Here are just a few of the great things a simple family calendar can do:
- Eliminate confusion
- Increase individual responsibility
- Increase predictability (which means kids feel like they have some control)
- Teach numeracy and literacy to our young children
One of the greatest reasons that a family calendar is important, is because it puts all of the information in one place and allows all family members to have the same understanding. One parent doesn’t assume that the rest of the family knows when the dentist appointment is happening. Kids don’t have to guess when their 3 days at dad’s house happens in this 2 week period – they can see it.
Children often feel powerless in a home. This is one of the reasons that they fight for power (defiance, power struggles.) Everyone is telling them what to do and when things are going to happen and they either have to hold it all in their head or just leave it up to the adults. Once we have a place where things are clearly written down (with pictures/words,) kids don’t have to remember everything. They can check the calendar and feel like they know what is happening each day.
We can support children in learning to take responsibility by teaching them to help themselves. When they ask, “when is picture day?” rather than telling them, we can say, “Go and check the calendar and then please let me know what you find out.”
We can also teach our children to put their activities onto the family calendar. This is great preparation for their teenage years as they learn to build habits of organization. Reviewing the week in advance at a family meeting or even after dinner one night a week means that everyone’s up to speed about their own responsibilities: driving, chores, homework, appointments, practices and special events.
Lastly, having everything on the family calendar means that we don’t fall into the trap of not telling our kids about potentially unpleasant things and building up the emotional tension around them. When doctor, dentist, and immunization appointments are clearly marked, kids can prepare themselves rather than being surprised when they are told about them, only moments in advance.
This week, ask yourself these questions:
- Is our calendar hanging where every family member can clearly see it?
- Do we need to start using stickers or pictures on the calendar so that all of the kids know what’s happening?
- How can I get the kids to learn the responsibility of knowing what’s happening in their lives?
- When will we schedule a weekly opportunity to review what’s on the family calendar?