In this post I’d like to talk about an artifact I’m very proud of.
It’s the weekly calendar I made for my son Alessandro.
First of all you need to know the context: Alessandro was little more than 3 years old and he had recently started his first year at the kindergarden.
Alessandro started developing his own concept of time flow and collocation of events in time.
He was not assuming that time can flow in only one direction and he had no way to express if a moment in time was far from now or not.
Actually he identified past events with ‘yesterday’ and future events with ‘tomorrow’. Moreover he was not assuming that time flow is unidirectional. His idea of time flow was more…free.
All this was an interesting and amusing experience for me. I did not considered it an issue since I read enough about kids’ ideas about time.
Unfortunately few major changes in his life made him concerned about what was going to happen in his life the very next day. Kinder garden, swimming lessons, granparents’ house, etc…every day was a roulette of options.
Every single day he asked me: “are we going to school today?” “and tomorrow?” “are we going to the swimming pool?”
Every time my answer differed from what he hoped and obviously he started complaining about it.
It was very easy to understand him: he did not know what a week is and it was impossible to understand why Dad decided to bring him to school (week days) or to stay home with him (weekends).
He was victim of events with no chance to modify them or even understand the reasons behind them.
I then decided to prepare a weekly calendar.
It is a sheet of paper with 7 rows. One for each weekday.
I’ve drawn something different in each row.
At the beginning of each row I wrote the name of a weekday each with a different color.
I attached little velcro squares alla along the rows. Each square was a placeholder for an activity image. Every day Alessandro could fill the relative row with little drawings representing what he did (swimming pool, biking, going to the kindergarten, etc).
I printed lots of predefined colorful activities to stick to the weekly calendar.
I chose images with: kids going to school, kids playing, kids reading, kids cooking, kids riding a bike, kids sleeping, kids in a bathtub, etc
Alessandro reacted enthusiastically from the very first day and, in a couple of weeks, he was aware of when he was going to stay home (weekends) with Mom and Dad and when he was supposed to go to kinder garden.
The ‘uncertainty’ about the future became a game of tracing the activities he enjoyed during the day.
Every new activity he discover he asks me to print a new image (kid skiing for instance).
After a couple of months he had learnt week days thanks to the different colors in the picture.
He then changed the way in which the calendar was used: he started to plan his days upfront in the morning instead of sticking picture at the evening. After having chosen the activities he informed me about his plans.
Worth mentioning the fact that he got really upset if Mom and Dad did not follow his plans for the afternoon activities 🙂
I must say that the night I spent drawing the calendar has been time well spent.