A Calendar to Give Children Control of Their Days

How do your kids keep track of what is happening and when it will happen in their lives? For probably three years now, we’ve used this little beauty (it lives on one of our kitchen cabinets next to our eating table)… When the girls were really little, I’d just write their initials and draw a little picture representing what they were going to do each day (since they couldn’t read). When quarantine hit, I took it off of the cabinet, because there was no reason to have it up. But, we dragged it out again a few weeks ago, because we finally have a few (socially distanced, outdoors, and safe…) things to do these days, and we realized both children benefited from having control over knowing what to anticipate each day and week.

Now that the girls are older, our second grader likes to fill this out for both of them. She writes their names, and as I used to do, draws a little picture to represent the activity (since our 5-year-old doesn’t read). We also use this to keep track of other things, such as which girl gets to wear the beloved bat headband each day (our mornings have been so much more peaceful since my husband thought of this brilliant idea on Tuesday of this week!).

Pulling this schedule back out and using it truly made a big change in how both girls approach their days and weeks, as they can take ownership of knowing what to expect and what to be ready for! So, you can imagine my delight when I came across this passage in The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson (affiliate link used):

“When children are young, much of the work is demonstrating to them that they do have control. One wise friend of ours who was a parent educator for twenty years advises giving calendars to preschool-age children and writing down all the important events in their life, in part because it helps children understand the passage of time better, and how their days will unfold. We can’t overstate the importance of the calendar tool in helping kids feel in control of their day… Spend time going over the schedule for the day, giving them choice in that schedule wherever possible. This communication expresses respect — they see that they are not just a tagalong to your day and your plans, and they understand what is going to happen, when, and why. As they get older, children will then start to write in important things for themselves, which further helps them develop their sense of control.”

The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives by William Stixrud and Ned Johnson, 2018, page 67

Do you have anything similar in your homes? Please share so we can all benefit from everyone’s brilliant ideas!

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