The Waldorf Calendar: What You Need to Know

The Waldorf calendar helps children understand the passage of time and its cyclical nature. Find out more about this fun tool.
The Waldorf Calendar: What You Need to Know

Last update: 11 December, 2021

How many times does your child ask you how long until their birthday or Christmas arrives? Probably a lot, even if you’ve answered the question several times in the last week. This is because little ones don’t yet have a consolidated notion of time. And to help them understand and manage it, the Waldorf calendar is an excellent alternative. Keep reading the following article to learn what it is and how to use it.

Children and the concept of time

Until approximately six years of age, the notion of the passage of time is quite a complex skill to handle. And it’s not surprising, as it’s an abstract and seemingly contradictory concept.

On the one hand, the little ones have to understand that time is a linear spectrum where the past is left behind and the future is yet to come. And, on the other hand, they have to recognize its cyclical quality: Weeks, months, and years repeat themselves over and over again.

Thus, the implementation of a practical and interactive instrument helps them to put their ideas in order.

A child watching sand drop through and hour glass.

What is the Waldorf calendar?

The Waldorf calendar is a graphic representation of time, which makes it possible to turn the abstraction of this concept into something tangible and visible for children. It’s based on the pedagogy that bears this name and on the Montessori method, both of which promote autonomy and practical learning.

This calendar has a circular shape that symbolizes the sun and the annual cycle that repeats with each turn of the earth around it.

Inside there are 12 pieces that represent each of the months of the year. In its outermost area, there are 31 holes that symbolize the days of each month. In addition to all this, some calendars have spaces to indicate the seasons of the year.

Its presentation is very colorful and eye-catching, which favors children’s interest and understanding.

Each of the months of the year is painted in a different color, and those that correspond to the same season have a similar hue. Thus, summer shows yellow and orange tones, autumn red colors, winter blue, and spring green. In the same way, the balls that represent each day of the week also show different colors.

All these details and distinctive features allow little ones to understand the different cycles (weeks, months, seasons, and years) in a simpler way. In addition, it makes it easier for them to anchor themselves in time, that is, to recognize where they are.

How is it used?

The Waldorf calendar is very easy to put into practice when you understand the dynamics. The idea is to complete it as appropriate, with the addition of the different pieces that compose it.

The piece corresponding to the month is placed first and then a small ball is added that represents day 1. The color of the latter depends on the day of the week in which it fell. In addition, since the beginning is weekly, another piece is placed in one of the four spaces corresponding to the month card.

This way, the child already knows that they’re in the month of January, on the first day, in the first week, and that it’s also Monday.

Then, the successive days until the end of the month are completed with the 31 balls. At this time, the cycle ends and these are collected to be placed again in February.

What are the benefits of the Waldorf calendar?

The Waldorf calendar helps children to better understand the notion of time, but it also offers other advantages:

  • It can be used from 3 years of age.
  • As is common in Waldorf education, it’s made of materials that come from nature, such as wood. In addition, it’s painted with non-toxic water-based dyes, making it totally safe for infants.
  • It helps children develop logic and abstract thinking.
  • It enhances fine motor skills.
  • The Waldorf calendar favors the establishment of routines, as every day they have to make sure to place a new piece.
  • It helps children to recognize colors and shapes.
  • It allows for the consolidation of the learning of the days of the week and the months of the year, as well as the ability to count from 1 to 30.
A little girl playing with an advent calendar.

In short, it’s a very useful and fun teaching tool. If you prefer, you can also make it yourself at home with Eva rubber, cardboard, and other craft materials. In any case, it will become one of your children’s favorite objects.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.