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Why are we still doing the calendar?

  • 1.  Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-24-2017 11:12 AM
    Hello to all the early childhood professionals out there. I am curious how many of you out there have made the transition away from doing the calendar and weather as the staple morning meeting learning experience?  I have been in the field for 17 years and for all of this time I have been working diligently to inform my staff and students that doing the calendar every single day is quite limiting and there are other endless possibilities to what can transpire at morning meeting. As someone who supports project work, emergenct curriculum, and Reggio Emilia, I am struggling daily with the idea that we just can't seem to kick this part of morning meeting. I do not mean to offend anyone out there who is doing the calendar. I invite you to enter into this dialogue with an open mind and heart. Would love to hear from others who have taken the leap and introduced varied learning experiences at morning meeting. I need to know I am not alone!!!

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    Rosalie Witt
    Wilton CT
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  • 2.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-25-2017 05:06 AM
    I totally get what you are saying and I applaud using ingenuity during morning meeting.
    I do plan to order calendar materials for my new center.
    I stated in a previous thread on global warming that calendar and weather may not be understood by all children.  But this is what we do know.  Children need routines and they love repitition.  Some learn about taking turns. Calendar and the weather cover many curricula areas.  I think I will stick to it if my staff agrees because the calendar and weather brings consistency to the morning meeting.  Then we can delve into the other possibilities.

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    Patricia Jack
    Boulder City NV
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  • 3.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-25-2017 08:25 AM
    Recently, I was observing an early childhood classroom of three year old children. This is what happened at circle time:  (1) recite alphabet twice (once in English and once in Spanish)--then an individual child stood up and recited it--kinda. (2)  count to 100 twice (both in English)--then individual child stood up and counted to 100--sorta. (3)  chant the days of the week both in English and Spanish--then individual child stood up and said days of week in English and Spanish--maybe, maybe not.

    This is grueling ordeal continued with days of the month, colors, and shapes. It lasted 40 minutes and the teacher wonders why children's behaviors were so poor and attention so limited.

    So no to rote. Burn calendars and all so-called learning posters. Stop stuffing children's brains with what we think they should know. Stop being a drill Sargent. Recitation does not equal understanding. It just means young children are good at mimicking and memorization.

    Sandra Duncan, EdD

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    Sandra Duncan
    Schererville IN
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  • 4.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-25-2017 11:57 AM
    Sandra, I love your comments, but I want to suggest an alternative to burning the calendars.  Especially since lots of teachers spent their own money on that calendar.  In training I ask, "At home, if you sleep in the same bedroom as a significant other, do you wake up, turn to him or her and ask, 'What day is it?  What day was yesterday? What day will tomorrow be?'"  If you do, that s.o. is going to move out SOON!  You look at your cell phone, or you go to the kitchen where the calendar is hanging on the refrigerator.  So, I suggest that folks move the calendar to housekeeping.  Then they will see those children who are developmentally ready for the abstract concepts involved in understanding the calendar playing with the calendar and they can work with those children and not waste the time of all the others.
    Years ago, Young Children had a great article on this topic, by our favorite guru, Lilian Katz: https://www.naeyc.org/files/tyc/file/CalendarTime.pdf
    It describes perfectly what is really going on and why we need to change our practice.
    The other thing I ask in training is:  "If you want children to know what day it is, WHY NOT TELL THEM?"  It is rarely effective to tell people what is wrong with what they are doing and that they have to stop, unless you tell them why it doesn't make sense and WHAT TO DO INSTEAD.  I learned years ago from a very good young teacher to do the following:
    Take the words "Today is Monday." and write them separately on file cards or pieces of sentence strip.  Make a set of each day of the school week.  Laminate them.  During group time, say "Today is Monday" as you put up the words. After a few weeks, you can hand out the cards to the children and say such things as, "Who has the card with the big T on it?"  "Who has the card with the word with just two letters."  Later in the year, you might increase to "Today is Monday, January 10, 2017."  I also sometimes ask, "Who has the cards with words?"  "How do we know we are finished with our sentence?"  [might get the answer because the four numbers are there OR because there is a period after the number]
    THINK of all the skills children are learning, from putting up the cards left to right, to the use of punctuation.  And it takes a very short time.  And by the way, they don't know what yesterday was except the day they had pizza for lunch.  AND THEY DON'T NEED TO KNOW.
    Which reminds me:  In training, we look through the early learning standards for the state, and the kindergarten standards and we can't find anything there that would lead someone to think that they need to teach calendar the old way.

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    Joseph Appleton
    Dayton VA
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  • 5.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-26-2017 10:37 AM

    Joseph - thank you so much for posting the Lilian Katz article. I hope that everyone takes a moment to read it and share it with their colleagues. At best, please engage in conversation about what the article says and begin to examine and explore other possibilities.  I had the privilege of seeing Lilian give a presentation about two years ago and when she brought up the calendar and described the why, as you so brilliantly stated, I thought most people's head was going to pop off. I felt like I was a three-year-old jumping around in my seat clapping and jumping for joy. I was very alone in sharing my strong emotions.

    The why for me is the most important piece in what we do. It is what defines intentional teaching. If we just do things because they have always been done that way then we lose our intentionality and purpose. This leads to practices that are not developmentally appropriate. If you understand child development then you understand why the calendar is not the best option for morning meeting. I also want to say that I agree that the calendar does have its place in the class and can be utilized in various different ways. Thank you for sharing your anecdote. I think as teachers we learn from each other. We are our most important network of supporters and cheerleaders. I started this conversation because I want to start having the conversation about moving forward in our practice and this topic is just one that really gets me.

     

    It's funny that you mentioned the house keeping corner.....this might be my next question on the forum!  :)




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    Rosalie Witt
    Wilton CT
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  • 6.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-26-2017 10:42 AM
    Sandra - thank you for sharing. Though this anecdote made me cringe it is the very reason why I think we need to rethink and revamp this practice. 40 minutes of morning meeting!  I had a student teacher who was working with five year olds. They had been through the program since 3 and every year, every day they did the calendar. My student teacher shared that after three years the students could not tell him what day of the week it was, the month, or even the date. They did not recongize any one element on its own. Only in sequence as it was recited. This is simple not learning. It is memorization. :(

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    Rosalie Witt
    Wilton CT
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  • 7.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-26-2017 10:58 AM
    Wow!  What a brilliant idea to put calendar in home living area!  This idea brings relevancy to the calendar. Thank you for this amazing alternative for the classroom calendar. Maybe even using an authentic calendar rather than catalog purchased calendar might be good.

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    Sandra Duncan,EdD
    Co-Author Inspiring Spaces for Young Children and Rethinking the Classroom Landscape
    219-743-2923
    Sandrdun@aol.com
    Schererville IN
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  • 8.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-30-2017 11:32 AM
    ​So, now I am curious. I have seen beautiful and sensitive responses to the original question from extremely bright educators who have done research on this calendar issue. (and by the way, I know we can find research to back any of our practices) I have also been curriculum specialist who 15 years ago was almost escorted out of this program because I said we would no longer be using the calendar to "teach" any of the concepts that teachers were claiming could only be taught with the calendar- patterns, sequences, days of the week, months, numbers, and on and on. I asked the group to look at their concepts and realize that the pieces that are developmentally appropriate are already in place with cubes that are different sizes, colors,shapes, textures and that is just one manipulative in most classrooms that would be a concrete example.

    So, place a calendar in the Dramatic Play area on the refrigerator so children make that connection and save your money to buy appropriate materials or, better yet, use natural materials and stop buying expensive items. Babies teach us what they like when we buy an expensive toy that "teaches" and watch the baby ignore the toy and play with the box, wrapping paper, ribbon and are not interested in the toy.

    I truly hope that early childhood professionals will support what many contributors to this question have said about using a calendar with our youngest children. Stop following the crowd and take a stand for your children.

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    Carol Rowland
    Community Action Project of Tulsa County
    Tulsa OK
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  • 9.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-25-2017 06:58 AM
    OMG Rosalie!  I have been in early childhood education for over 40 years and this is one of my pet peeves of all time!  I'm convinced that American educators don't think any child will ever survive unless they drag them through these silly routines every morning, especially since developmentally, children at this age can't understand time and symbolism of the calendar, etc.  I do lots of consulting work and college-level instruction in early childhood and this comes up all the time!  The daily recitation drives me crazy---a friend of mine and I call it "pagan calendar worship"!  The chanting in unison (e.g., "Today is Monday, March 17, 2017") just reminds us of natives worshiping a totem!

    Just because children are perhaps reciting this accurately does NOT mean that they understand it or know what to do with that information.  This is one of many non-developmentally appropriate practices that I observe in many early childhood settings, and teachers and parents feel impressed by the children's false positive performance.  Let's band together to change this practice---way too much time is spent on it for nothing!  These children are concrete learners---there will be plenty of time to move into symbolic learning as they get older.   I hope people will finally begin to realize that the content does NOT match the learner's developmental level and cease this time-wasting practice!

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    Rick Ellis
    Rick Ellis
    Bordentown NJ
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  • 10.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-25-2017 07:36 AM
    Developmentally, children are not ready for abstract thought, they live in the here and now and are concrete thinkers.  Concepts such as time are very difficult for young children to grasp.  Group time has tremendous opportunity for learning, and yes children love repetition because that is one of the ways they learn concepts (how many of us in the field have read the same book over and over!), but the calendar is not the best use of creating a environment for learning. Personally I value, song, book reading, and discussion about topics that are relevant to the children in our class.

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    Susan Ferguson
    Wellesley College
    Wellesley MA
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  • 11.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?

    Posted 06-26-2017 11:23 AM
    I accept your challenge Rick!  We do need to band together. It's the only way. When there is a ground swell and more people are talking then there is a chance. When we just allow it and accept it we may as well just be giving our endorsement of it.

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    Rosalie Witt
    Wilton CT
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  • 12.  RE: Why are we still doing the calendar?