Here’s a simple new year’s resolution for you:
Get a calendar and look at it regularly with your child.
There are loads of good reasons for doing this – here are just a few:
– It will be fun! (See below for what to do to make it fun if you’re not sure).
– Your child is eventually going to have to learn the features of the calendar (names of days, months seasons etc) so why not start now?
– Teachers often do this with their class – so doing it with your child before school will give them a little headstart.
– Discussing the date will naturally introduce ordinal numbers to your child (first, second, third etc). Many children struggle with ordinal numbers in school – so the sooner your child knows them, the better.
– Not only will it give practice in counting it can also provide basic addition practice. For example, you will inevitably forget to look at the calendar on some days – when you catch up you can say something like ‘Now it has been two days since we looked at the calendar. It was April the 13th two days ago and today it is April the 15th: 13 + 2 = 15!’
The days and month names provide great reading practice – by emphasizing, say, the ‘F’ in Friday and February each time you read these words you reinforce in your child’s mind the sound that the letter makes.
Some suggestions to make it fun
– Get excited in the leadup to important dates. These can be days like Christmas Day or family birthdays or even just the first day of a new month. Any day of any significance can do the job – for example, if the whole family is heading away on a vacation in a few weeks’ time, mark the date and then count down to it, getting more and more excited as it approaches. Each time you and your child note and discuss a landmark – for example, when there are only 3 weeks until the date – you are providing them with invaluable mathematical practice, not to mention enhancing their awareness of how the calendar works.
– Display the calendar prominently on a wall or fridge and create some simple weather icons (eg hot, cold, rainy, windy, snowing etc). You and your child can then make a ritual of looking outside, discussing the weather, and then pinning up icons accordingly.
– Have four cards made, one for each season. In the leadup to the change of season, get excited by the approaching date and then together take down the old season icon and put up the new one. This can also lead to a discussion of how the northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons and weather.
– Talk about things the family have done and plan to do, using the calendar. You could point to the previous Saturday and say ‘Last Saturday we went to the beach and built a sandcastle. Next Saturday we’re going to go to the park and have a picnic’. Be creative and funny and encourage your child to have a go too as this process will enhance their ability to use descriptive words and also to correctly use past, present and future tenses.
Using the calendar is an easy and effective way to build your child’s knowledge of days, months, seasons and the weather as well as numerical order, ordinal numbers and time. So why not get started today!