Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Try This Tuesday: Whiteboard Calendar

Lots of people use calendars so this isn't all that original, but for today's Try This Tuesday I wanted to share our whiteboard calendar. Previously I had used a big posterboard with pictures, but the boys were learning to read and I was looking for something that we could re-use month after month. I didn't like the pre-marked whiteboard calendars at Walmart b/c they were too small to fit everything in. With school, therapy, and everything else going on, we needed a little more space to be able to keep track of everything and write big enough for the boys to be able to see/read it.

So imagine my excitement when I found this -- a huge (about 4+ feet long) blank whiteboard. I brought it home and used permanent marker to make the squares for the calendar (so I wouldn't have to redraw those every month), with extra space to the right for notes.

I tried to color code to some extent. Therapy appts were in green, special events at home or school were in red. I wrote the word "school" in blue on every day that there would be school (same for church) and a big "no school" if there was a school holiday. That way, the boys knew every day where they would be going and if anything out of the ordinary was going to happen on a particular day (well to the extent that we could plan for anyway). I had notes to remind us when homework or library books were due.

In the blank space on the right, I listed out all of their teachers and therapists info to help us keep track. There was a note with the carpool times for drop-off and pick-up at school. I had a section for a "to do" list and "upcoming events" (ie. anything in the following month that I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to include when I updated the calendar).

The calendar was great for making sure dh and I were both aware of important dates and deadlines - I was usually the one that made notes of whose homework was due when, and he was usually the one that helped them get it done after school so the calendar helped a lot with communication. It also helped the boys to clarify expectations of what was coming up, as they were prone to meltdowns if anything didn't go the way they expected it to or if they didn't know what to expect. Predictability was (and is) their friend.

CB and BH love calendars. They went through a long phase where they were near-obsessed with calendars. After all, if you like things lined up, and you like numbers, what could be better than a calendar, which has numbers all lined up :). They used to run downstairs on the first of every month as soon as they woke up, excited to see the month's new calendar. I remember one time when I had made the mistake of forgetting to update the calendar, CB said to me, “I wonder what Henry’s looking at?” (Henry is his bear) I told him I thought Henry was watching cartoons with us, but he said, “I think Henry’s looking at the calendar and thinking it doesn’t look like October.” Oops! I hadn’t updated it yet… I guess that was my hint :). I asked him if he thought I should go ahead and change it to October and he and Henry both nodded, LOL. It was great because a few months prior to that he'd have had a full-blown meltdown over the calendar not being updated by the time he woke up on the 1st. I was proud of him :).

You may have noticed that I'm talking past-tense here about our calendar. Sadly, after about 2 1/2 yrs of use, being taken down and put back up repeatedly and having boys put stickers on it and do some of their own coloring on it, our calendar was looking pretty worse-for-wear. So, when we recently painted our living room walls (to cover up all the lovely artwork!), we opted not to put it back up (dh didn't want an eyesore on his newly painted walls, and I can't say I blame him!).

We'll probably get a smaller one that will fit on the fridge to use now. With all 3 boys starting school again soon, we're definitely going to need something to help us keep track of everything as well as give them the peace of mind of knowing what to expect every day. Maybe we'll do a separate picture calendar for LB. Although the one I made him recently to countdown to school starting is now missing... he like it so much he took it off the fridge to play with it and now I have no idea where it is!


Anonymous said...

Sounds wonderful! I've been trying to do this sort of thing, with Daniel. I like the white board idea instead of a regular calendar. Thanks for the tip!!

Frogs' mom on August 5, 2008 at 4:22 PM said...

I love the size of that calendar. Frog, however, has a passion for erasing the white board - so I'm afraid we'd always have a clear schedule! The color coding is really helpful.

Jenny on August 5, 2008 at 6:03 PM said...

That's a great idea! I'm always looking for ideas to help me stay organized!

Trish on August 5, 2008 at 11:28 PM said...

I think it's wonderful that you shared this. I have a regular planning calendar for general use, but I did find a whiteboard with the days of the week on it and was using it for a while.

I kind of got out of the habit, but I think with school coming up that I need to get it out and start using it again. Thanks for the reminder!

Susan Lindgren on August 6, 2008 at 8:29 AM said...

I always start my calendar with the best intentions:( Now I have a printed on on a small corkboard, hidden in our pantry door. We will see!


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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