Teaching Kids to Use a Calendar to Manage Their Schedule
As a mother of three — and then a child care provider once mine were out of the nest — I know very well the need for effective time management, for parents, caregivers, and children. I have long been an advocate of teaching kids to use a calendar to organize their time and their activities from a very young age. As soon as a child is able to identify colors and basic shapes, he is ready to begin to use a calendar to understand the concept of chores, fun activities, and later on, educational activities.
Tips and Tricks for Teaching Kids to Use a Calendar
Time management can start with having children be responsible for setting their own alarms to get up in the morning. Even though you as the parent or caregiver also get up with them, make it their responsibility to set their alarm each night and to get up and start to get themselves ready each day. Part of the morning routine should include checking the calendar every morning to see what is on hand for the day ahead.
Young children enjoy having their very own calendar to decorate, add stickers to, and follow along with activities and accomplishments. For my little ones, I would choose a template online that featured their favorite cartoon or television character on a calendar, and I would follow through the theme with stickers. We would sit down together and choose a crayon color or sticker to represent such things as cleaning their rooms, studying/homework, field trips, school projects, etc. For the smaller children I would use colors or shapes to denote activities such as brushing teeth, picking up toys, helping with chores, and bedtime. As they got older we added in educational activities. The goal was to get each child to independently look at the calendar and be able to immediately identify the activity of the moment by the color or sticker on the calendar. This set the stage for getting them to use calendars to effectively schedule and manage their time when they got older. It also helped to free up a good deal of my time for other things.
Teaching kids to use a calendar is something that benefits kids of all ages. Of course younger children will need a bit of guidance to learn the days of the week and how they are displayed on a calendar. This is another learning opportunity. I found that when we added silly stickers to the weekends to denote fun activities, the kids got the hang of identifying all of the days of the week pretty quickly.
Older kids can use calendars to keep track of practice schedules for sports or other extracurricular activities, appointments (parents can also keep track of appointments, but it is a good idea to have the child do it as well in order to develop the habit of keeping track of important events), deadlines for school projects, chores, etc. In this way they are learning to be responsible for their own time management and schedules. This teaches them a valuable habit that will serve them well throughout their lives. Once my kids hit college, Google Calendar was their best friend. Aaah, technology! But hey, whatever works, and it most definitely has worked well for them!