We have seen for ourselves benefits of visual management. So we figured it could be helpful for our toddler also. My calendar is full of things like play dates and story times these days. And as we added in a day of school for Abraham each week I wanted to help him understand the concept of a week a little better so he could start to grasp that there was consistency to which day he went to school. I felt like without this visual management for him, he would maybe assume that I chose when he was going to school at random. He seems to do really well with consistency and routine so I figured with a new addition to our schedule as big as school, being able to see how it fit into the other weekly activities we do would be helpful.
I did a few brief searches online and saw a few things I liked. But I had an idea in my head of what I wanted and nothing was quite what I was looking for. And there were plenty to choose from with downloadable templates. But in the end, I decided to make something myself.
It is a very high-end calendar made of white poster board, some washi tape, and some activity cards I have hand-drawn. (A bonus of doing it this way is that it has really stretched me creatively, specifically in having to sketch out each card. Drawing has never been something I felt confident in, so this has been a challenge, but it has actually been fun!)
There is one column for each day and a star that gets moved from each day to the next. Some cards stay pretty stationary (church, school, etc.) Some cards I keep in a drawer and they get added as appropriate (birthday celebrations, doctor visits, grocery shopping, etc.)
One thing that seemed helpful with this way of laying out our week was that when Ben had a trip that spanned several days, I put one card on the day he left with a string connecting it all the way to the day he would return. I think this helped Abraham’s toddler brain begin to comprehend length of time and see that there was a finite time that Daddy would be returning.
I used to wait to tell him about something exciting that we were going to do until just before the event. (Sometimes, in the car as we were about to walk into the event.) A toddler can only understand so much about the concept of time and if I told him at the beginning of the day a friend was coming over to play, but then something came up and they didn’t end up coming after all, he would be so disappointed. So I hesitated some before making this calendar for fear of constant disappointments as cards had to shift around or be removed. But I figure it is a good way to start helping him understand that while we can plan things, sometimes plans change and we have to be flexible.
He really enjoys moving the star each morning. And it helps him feel involved while we are planning out our days and looking at our own board each morning.
So far it has been a really valuable tool. We recently added a token system as a way to limit the amount of screen time he requested. I’ll share more about that soon.