Having a calendar for our family has been a staple of our homeschooling. My children take comfort in being able to go to the calendar and look for themselves to see what events we have coming up.
For some kids, and adults, staying oriented to what day of the week it is can be hard. Those with ADHD or autism find it challenging as time doesn’t always have meaning to them unless it is grounded in events that affect them.
In the Beginning…
When my children were small, I purchased a big Teacher’s calendar and had it laminated. We had calendar time in the mornings and discussed the day and month and season. The laminated classroom calendar was big enough to write on, but there were drawbacks. Cleaning the dry erase maker off lamination at the end of the month was difficult. Sometimes I missed setting up a new month on time because it was so hard to clean off the last month!
When my kids got too old for singing days of the week songs, we dropped daily calendar time. However, they specifically asked we keep having a family calendar where they could look to see what appointments, classes, or events were coming up for our family.
Upgrading the System
For a time, we tried just having a big paper calendar up in our home. It took away my issues with erasing and writing a new month. It helped us all keep up with where we were supposed to be when. But those often tore and fell down. It was especially challenging because I tried to use it to keep up with upcoming appointments in other months. Flipping back and forth was hard.
I know we could go digital. But I know from past experiences, having the calendar on the wall is better for us. Asking everyone to log into a family google calendar is just hit or miss. My kids would rather see it as they walk through the house. They don’t want to have to remember to check an app. And until recently, they didn’t all have personal devices to even install the app on.
The Best of Both Worlds?
This year, I think I have finally found the perfect solution for my family. First of all, I purchased a big Teacher Planner that I can use to keep up with upcoming events for the whole year. It gives me a place to write down every dentist or doctor visit and I can take it with me where ever I go. Beyond that, I can of course use it for tracking and planning school work. So, I no longer need the 12-month calendar on the wall to keep up with things.
For hanging up in our home, I’ve purchased a whiteboard calendar. Yes, I do have to date it each month, but so far, the whiteboard surface wipes clean FAR better than the laminated teacher calendars of past years. It is also magnetic. That means I can move a magnet to “Today” each morning to help us all know what today is. That might sound like a silly thing to do, but if we don’t leave the house for a few days the difference between Wednesday and Thursday might not be obvious and a little cue doesn’t hurt anyone.
Color Coding Our Life
The magnetic board also has markers that stick to it with magnets. This means that I won’t be hunting for a marker every time I need to make note of a new appointment! I don’t know how many hours of my life I’ve lost hunting for a dry erase pen, but I’m looking forward to not doing that more!
The pack of pens I got had a whole rainbow, so I can note different family member’s activities in different colors. Using a variety of colors can help important dates pop out. It also can be easier to scan for a specific color when looking for something we need to do. So having ballet classes in pink and scout meetings in green can make the entire calendar easier to use. Writing all in black can lead to one thing blending into another, especially if there are several things to do on the same day. Having each event in a new color can make reading each thing easier. Color has also been proven to help with memory so you are more likely to remember what you were supposed to do today if you write it in purple!
I think I have it figured out…for now.
The combination of a personal planner and whiteboard calendar feels like the best option for us this year.
Are you using a planner or hanging up a calendar? What works for you? Tell me in the comments!
P.S. These are the calendars that I am using this year.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.
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