Monday, May 14, 2007

A Homeschooling Calendar

I started this tradition with my younger son about five years ago when he was five years old. At the time I was a newly confirmed homeschooler, and still considering unschooling, so I was constantly looking for fun and non-coercive ways for him to practice writing. Plus every morning he would wake up and ask me "what are we doing today?" So I combined the two and came up with a calendar for him to make for himself. He loved it so much that he continued for two years before he decided he didn't need it anymore. But about two years ago I started again with my younger son, who had then turned five years old and began asking "what are we doing today?"

We start with a large blotter calendar, you know the kind that typically go on the top of people's desks? I get our at Staples, because they are the only ones I have been able to find without the information already in there, and no lines running across the whole thing for notes (which we find very distracting, since we don't use words to fill in our activities).

I use a pencil to write in the name of the month, and the numbers, and then my son traces over that information with a marker. Then we head downstairs to the computer and find clip art to represent each thing we are doing that month. So we have garbage cans for Tuesdays to remind us to take the trash out, birthday cakes for parties, soccer balls (with shooting flames, no less) for soccer practice and games, a small stack of books for library day, and so on. I am blessed to have a color printer to print these things out on.

My son and I practice using scissors by cutting out the clip art, and then together we glue them onto the calendar where each thing belongs. Every day now, he can check the calendar for what we are doing, and he no longer needs to paste Daddy on every Saturday and Sunday, because he knows the days he stays home without needing a reminder.

This has been a terrific way for both of my boys to learn the days of the week (still working on months though), and given them good practice in writing and cutting. It also gives them a sense of security in knowing how their day looks without having to ask.

This has remained a non-coercive activity since we began. In fact, we finally just finished the month of May today, which is what prompted me to blog about it. For the last 13 days the pieces have been laying on the kitchen floor underneath where the calendar hangs. It just occurred to my younger son though, that he wants to start counting down the days to his birthday party (11).