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For a child in homeschool, calendar math is a critical way to jumpstart a daily schooling session. It’s been proven that strictly followed routines are most effective for children of any age, and the homeschooling child is no different. It is one of the ways that we detour kids ready to start the day, even if it is one of our more relaxed days, it gets them in learning mode. It also drills in the months, days, year, seasons, numbers, alphabet sounds etc.
Your student will follow your queues as you prepare to begin, and will eventually cozy right up into their spot on the carpet or desk, expecting you to begin the process. This can only be achieved when a protocol is followed, so it’s up to the homeschooling parent or guardian to ingrain the procedure. We like to make it fun and interactive, letting the kids take turns posting the day, season, or answering any questions.
Even in my years as a high school teacher, we started each class period with a certain drill. Students were to be seated, writing utensils ready, and bellwork notebooks on their desks. By the time the bell rang we were working, and feedback would be given within 5-7 minutes of the beginning of class. I didn’t have to remind them; they just did it–but it took plenty of repetition before it became a procedure. Even on days with substitutes, the process went on, and the evidence would be in their notebooks when I returned.
As for calendar math, it can be fun, stimulating, and allows for the student to get involved. It’s like bell work for elementary kids. There are plenty of great pocket charts and manipulative tools. It has pockets to store each component; date, weather, holidays, etc. Each section has a velcro square to attach the appropriately selected piece of information. The children love being in charge of placing the information–so much that we assign whose day it will be to avoid fighting over the responsibility.
If you can’t score a manipulative chart, you can easily make one. Simply get a blank piece of poster paper, and use a ruler and marker to chart out each spot: month, day, year, weather, holidays, etc. Cut out smaller pieces of different colored paper and use a glue stick to place them in the right location as a starter activity.
The point of the routine is to allow children to take ownership over vital daily information–the kind of information they will need as adults. They will also turn to that information when completing other work. Once our children learned to write, they were required to copy the date onto the top of each assignment, or to at least be able to answer back when asked wha
t “today is.”
In essence, the idea of starting the day with such a routine is to give them a better concept of time. Our oldest son sometimes struggles to understand the passage of years, decades, and centuries. He constantly asks if we were born in the 1930s or 1950s. Once the homeschooling year starts, he slowly begins to grasp how time passes, and how we chart it as a culture, making calendar math one of the most essential activities of the day.
During this time we also have daily questions in their composition books to answer. It can vary from practicing letters, handwriting, math, free writing or anything you want. I really like the idea of a composition book because it becomes an instant portfolio and you can easily track progress throughout the year.
For More, check out our complete guide entitled How To Homeschool.