Can I Get a Hallelujah!


Sometimes you just know that some practice that has been handed down from generation to generation just has to go. You know it in your heart of hearts….. but some still hold dear to that practice. So not having the words yet to articulate why it needs to go you begrudgingly put up with it.

Then a rock star in your field says something at a conference that gives you the courage and conviction to finally confront that practice.

Like Bev Bos who once said at a conference “Rip those alphabets off of your walls.” That is all I needed to broach the subject with my colleagues at the centre.

I had one of those moments today. I was at the amazing “Journeys of Possibilities Conference”. Lillian Katz was at the podium delivering her keynote address. She said “Do you know the calendar ritual? Do you do that here in Canada?”  Some moans came from the audience and knowing nods.

She spoke of visiting a class where the children sat around a commercial large print calendar and counted out the days, counted and clapped out the syllables in the word calendar and sang the calendar songs. Lillian spoke of quietly sitting there listening to this ritual. At the end of the ritual Lillian asked if she could ask a question. The teacher said of course. “Can anybody tell me what a week is?”

A little girl piped up “it’s short for weekend”.

Then Lillian said it:

“Look unless you are paying the bills or worrying about getting pregnant you don’t need it.”

Once we stopped laughing she continued. “Look Children will learn when they learn. You don’t need to take up 25 minutes of their day with this.”

All I could think at that time was “Can I get a Hallelujah!”

Thank you Lillian!

About Danielle

Danielle is an Early Childhood Educator,blogger, self admitted ECE geek, Preschool teacher, Mother and project coordinator for The Images of Learning Project. These days she juggles presenting, conference calls and blogging with playing with her daughter and nursing her son. She looks forward to the day where she can once again finish her morning coffee.

18 thoughts on “Can I Get a Hallelujah!

  1. I total agree Danielle. I have seen some very inspirational educators speak and like you, was quick to run back to the service and announce ‘No more calendars, No more rote learning, no more….’ It was as if the light bulb had turned on for me… Wow somebody else believes in this and is questioning why.

    What is very inspiring in Australia at the moment is we are introducing a new framework and have been implementing a new play based curriculum in the Early Years field that is encouraging Early Years Professionals to reflect and question practices and ask who we are doing certain things for and why? Is it beneficial to the child(ren) or is it just because this is the way we have always done it? it is very exciting!

    keep up the great work

    1. That sounds exciting Dani. We implemented a framework a few years ago that also encourages educators to question. It has been a wonderful way to start the dialogue. I thought the calendar was all but gone from our profession but for the last few months I have been working as a supply teacher and all the centres and schools I have subbed in performed this ritual. I will say its a lot harder as a supply teacher to question practices then being a permanent teacher. I guess this post was my public questioning.

      I would love to hear more about how the framework role out goes. I have a soft spot for Australia and your Early Childhood Educators as my best friend practices there and Glenda Macnaughton was one of those first authors that had me rethinking practice.

  2. Hallelujah! I first saw Lilian about 35 years ago at a local conference. The line I remember best is when she said, “Why are you Americans so hung up on doing the calendar with little children? The only time I ever needed to use the calendar was to check to see if I was pregnant.” I quote her occasionally in my workshops. What does a 4 year old care about what day it is?

  3. Danielle. I am so with you. A mother of four, gown on the farm, boys, and educato. after participating in so many workshops, conferences and so on, I curl my toes when I see these circles. I can’t work where I have to be like that, which makes it very difficult for me to work any place. I find it bullying behaviour on behalf of the teachers. These have all gone to the same schools as us. What is the matter. Where did they get these ideas from. Thank goodness once in awhile I come accross places that embrace individual teachers.

    1. Hi Birgit,
      It can be very hard to participate in a program that doesn’t mesh with your own personal philosophy. I believe that educators who do practice the calendar do it with the best of intentions. We need to question our practice more though and wonder why we continue with practices that we inherited!

  4. Hallelujah is right! As a parent once said to me as she was investigating kindergartens for her son “Do they think that if they put the alphabet on every surface children will learn to read?”

  5. Thank you Thank you Thank you. I am going to forward this to all my daycare families. I always feel like I have to justify this to the families.

    1. That is the part of the struggle isn’t it. Sometimes families excpect these outdated practices because thats what they think “school” is about. Thanks for stopping by Christine, always great to hear from you.

  6. But where does that idea come from? I did not learn that in college. I don’t remember any philosophy statements where circle time was included as part of a philosophy. We go to workshop upon workshop and I have for years and years. Why is it the once that beleive in calenders and alphabet tells the rest of us how to think. Well. Not all places ofcourse, but I can hold circles and hold the attention of the children. I am not sure if I see it right, but doing calenders call for no preparation. No creative thinking. No home work. When I do circle, I like to be a little prepared and interesting.I think we need to get brave and say like Bev Boss. She is not shy of her philosophy, and people listen. But we are so darn affraid to say “Sorry” but calenders doesn’t not work for me. I look out the window, and I know what the weather is like.I have a lot more to share, and the children have a lot more to share. Once I allowed my self to be me, I had much better cirle time with the children.
    By the way. Thank you for your blog. We need the conversation.

    1. I do not know where the idea came from. My guess is a company trying to sell Calendars. I am sure it seemed like a good idea at the time. I have actually stopped cirlce time completely at my program. We have a meeting time but sometimes that meeting happens while we are having snack. Generally its a time to share ideas and thinking about what we have been exploring lately,and its not compulsory. We all find our own rythm and what works best for us and the children in our care. Having a program based in a pedagogy of relationships and listening is what I strive for. Thanks for sharing your perspectives Birgit.

  7. This is WONDERFUL. The calendar was considered a mandatory part of the day at the international school I was at, and the director’s justification was math – rote counting, number recognition, cardinality, patterns – and as much as I understand that, we don’t need to use something as abstract as a calendar to teach those things. Children are exposed to all of those things in a well planned environment with meaningful materials and provocations.

    Hallelujah, Lillian Katz!

  8. Wow. I am so glad I have that information. In my conversation with moms or parents, I hear the new slogan “1000 by 5” and parents freak because they can’t get their children to sit down all the times reading books. So I have to tell them that none of us read 1000 book by 5. Some books my children wanted to hear over and over and we certaintly didn’t have that many books growing up.
    I did a PN called “Teacher. Let’s write up a story”.It is a PN about language,literacy and writing skills and how we can incorporate that into every day life playing with the children by providing play opportunities that encourage these skills. I would like to do a workshop this fall calling it “Literacy for a rainy day” just to illustrate how much we can do as parents to encourage the use of language with out having panic attack about making our children super intelligent.Just have fun. Love the children and watch their own creativity unfold. But I think some are still suck in the model that we need to be taught every thing. We can figure it out.

  9. As a Kindergarten teacher I am ready to embrace the no calendar, but the children do like to see what day Gym is on, when we are going on a field trip and to have special jobs when he/she is the helper of the day. I also was there when Lillian Katz spoke and just need a little support to actually throw the calendar out.
    Thank you for this blog, it has really encouraged me to make some exciting and dramatic changes, (I even tossed out the Barbies and the plastic toys).

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kandace. So great to hear you enjoy the blog. I support you a %100 on throwing out the calendar. It can be a hard first step but I promise you won’t regret it. I agree though kids like to know when field trips are etc. In my class we tend to talk about these exciting dates at group time. Let us know how it goes!

  10. Never ever used it with my preschoolers and never will. I must have some negative memories of the calendar routine from Kindergarten when i was a child. I do occasionally introduce a new month and say goodbye to the one that is over, like I would introduce a new child in the class and say goodbye to a friend who was visiting for 30 day. They have years of calendar time coming up in Elementary School. Why get into it now!

    1. It’s true Rhonda. I did a tour of an elementary school recently and saw calendars in every classroom. It was a k-5 classroom. That’s six years of the same routine.

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