We know from research that young children don't truly understand time concepts until the first or second grade. While some children can memorize the sequence of the days of the week, they lack a full understanding of what a day actually is. With this in mind, look for meaningful ways to introduce preschool-age children to concepts such as before and after and later and next. You can use a calendar to keep track of important events. Mark the days when you will have a visitor, school will be closed, or a site visit is planned. This approach helps children to learn the purpose of calendars and how calendars can be useful to them personally.
Here's an example of one of the ways I used a weekly calendar with my preschool class. Each week, I'd take a big white sheet of paper and mark the days of the week. I'd also allocate one day for the upcoming week. Each day, we'd fill in one square during our last large group time. It was a way to reflect on the day. We'd add a photo or a child's drawing to the calendar as we discussed the events of the day. It really helped the children to have a ready answer to the question, "What did you do at school today?"
This is the other way I used a calendar when I was teaching pre-K. The calendar contained an entire month or a few weeks at a time. On the calendar, we would mark important events or special activities. Some children would join me during Monday arrival and we'd talk about the week together. I'd add events to the calendar as we discussed them. This photo is actually the calendar I use at home with my son. (I’m always stealing my best classroom ideas to use at home with my kids.) We sit together on Sunday evening and fill in the week’s events. As the week goes along, we add to the calendar.
Here’s a calendar that a teacher uses to create a weekly plan that the children can read:
This is an example of a calendar created by a child. She had 38 days to go until her birthday, so she made a “calendar” to count down the days.