We all know how important it is to read, interpret and manage a calendar, but my question is who should be the one teaching it? Should it be parents or teachers, or both?
As a relief teacher, I visit different classrooms and year levels on a weekly basis. I was recently in a Prep/One classroom (Kindergarten or Foundation) and was talking about the calendar when a little girl started to get very confused and worried. She stammered “but, but, what happens tomorrow?” She could see that June ended on the 30th and there were not more cards on the class calendar. So what about tomorrow? She had no concept of what exactly a month was and the idea that when July starts, the dates start at 1 again. As cute as her misconception was, it made me wonder how many other children are there in schools who haven’t been exposed to calendars at home and haven’t been incidentally or explicitly taught about calendars in the classroom.
I did a quick scan of the Australian Curriculum and the US Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.
In the US Common Core State Standards for Kindergarten I found no mention of teaching days of the week, months of the year, weather or calendars. I looked at the First Grade and Second Grade outcomes, then decided to do a keyword search. I found nothing! We can be thankful that teachers have common sense and many explicitly teach calendars as part of their morning routine, I just can’t find the specific standard that addresses this!
In the Australian Curriculum I found links at Foundation and Year 1 beginning with making connections to events and days of the week, then naming and ordering the days of the week and months of the year. In Year 2, students should be reading and interpreting calendars.
So I thought I would share a few tips with your for teaching calendars in your classroom. Many require very additional work and can be easily implemented into your classroom routine. In the early years, the easiest way to teach calendars is through daily discussions.
- Have a calendar on display in your classroom with birthdays and special events marked
- Discuss the date on a daily basis
- Say “My turn, Today is Monday July 3rd, your turn” and children repeat back “Today is Monday July 3rd”
- Ask students to identify days 3 days ago, what day will it be in 2 days and how many sleeps until a certain event
- When switching months and seasons, discuss the change with the students
- Sing days of the week and months of the year songs (there are some great ones on youtube)
- Encouraging students to record the date in their reading diary
- Using a date stamp on work if children are unable to write their date
- Encouraging families to make a family calendar at home
You could supplement your calendar activities with this easy to use Weather Booklet.
In older year levels, often the assumption is made that children know how to read and manage a calendar and in the increasingly overloaded curriculum, it is often overlooked. But there are some simple things you can do that don’t take up much of your day.
- Have a calendar on display in your classroom with birthdays, special events and reminders (eg. homework due)
- Always encouraging students to write the date in their workbooks and on worksheets
- Using a diary to record home reading, homework assignments and special events
- Date Math – If the date is 09/12/2017 then children make up as many sums as they can using only the numbers in the date. eg. 7+2=9