When you're little, the concept of time is a difficult one.
Heck, it's difficult when you're 30, too.
"Today is Thursday? I swear it was Thursday yesterday?"
"Didn't I just buy groceries yesterday? Oh, it was last Monday? Sure felt like yesterday."
Anyway, it's hard for kids to understand what a "day" really is... and a "week?" Forget it. Impossible to really grasp. When they know something exciting is coming up, it's hard to know when it's really going to be.
"Mom, when is it my birf-day?"
"In a few weeks honey."
(the next day)
"Mom, when is it my birf-day? Is it today?"
"No babe... in a few weeks."
(the next day)...
"Mom, is today my birf-day?".....
Does this sound familiar?
When Rylee was in Preschool, having a break over the winter holidays must have been confusing. I'm sure she was thinking, "So, is school over? Why am I staying home today? Am I ever going back to see my teachers? My friends? What's up with this?"
We hung a "Countdown" in the hallway... each night, before bed, we took down a snowflake. It helped us practice counting, and it helped Rylee understand that she was, in fact, going back to school... when the snowflakes were gone, back to school she would go.
(You might be wondering what's up with the mirrors and ballet-type bar in the hall. When Rylee was little -- I mean crawling little -- we hung a mirror low in the hallway for her to see herself. When she was learning to pull herself up to stand, we put a ballet-type bar above the mirror to help her... along with that, of course, came another mirror above the bar. I mean, who wants to pull yourself up to stand to look at -- a bare wall. It was the best thing ever. We had lots of fun memories -- funny faces and belly-deep giggles -- in front of those mirrors! Carter enjoyed them, too!)
We've found that Rylee really likes knowing what's coming up in life. Being prepared for things to come. I mean, don't we all really like knowing what's happening next?
So, we do LOTS of "Countdowns" in our house.
A few months ago, Rylee had swimming lessons 2 times a week... when her 4-week session was done, it would then be Carter's turn (to swim with me) during his lessons. After a few of Rylee's lessons and fielding Carter's question of "When is it my turn to swim, Mom?"a gazillion times, it hit me. Countdown! So, up it went... a little different this time -- no numbers, but instead pictures of each lesson we could cross out. (Didn't realize I'd never taught Rylee how to put an "X" through something until then... something else to practice!) When Rylee's pictures were all crossed out, it would be Carter's turn! Rylee knew when her lessons were over, and Carter knew when his would start. Perfect!
The signs take me less than 5 minutes to make. Toss a picture on a page, add some words, and print. (Don't even print on good photo paper... print on regular typing paper because you're going to hang it where the kids can see it daily, which means it will get rubbed against... corners will get bent, the paper will get wrinkled, and when the countdown is done, the kids will take it down, play with it for a few days, and it will eventually get thrown away!)
You can let the kids help you make the numbers... write on Post-It notes if you want. If you want to get fancy, head to an Educational Store and purchase some shape cut-outs. (I had a bunch from teaching.) If you think you're going to become "The Countdown Family" and use them more than once (like us), spend a few extra bucks, have them laminated, and cut them out. (Just a trick I learned from teaching: laminate them first, and then write the numbers on them. And use a permanent marker - not a dry-erase one. Dry-erase markers will rub off too easily -- permanent ones won't, but can be removed with some fingernail polish remover and good 'ole paper towels if you'd ever want the numbers off.)
The kids love counting and taking numbers down each night. They like knowing when something exciting is happening... and you will like not having to answer "not today... in a few days" a hundred times.
This was our most recent countdown....
Stay tuned for pictures from Carter's birthday party!
"When?" you ask.
Probably in a few days... I'll start a countdown for you. *smile*