This blog post is part 2 of an ongoing blog series called Real Life Organized. Join me as I pull my home and family back to basics, work to become more organized, and celebrate the successes.
I like charts (in case you couldn't tell from this post dedicated wholly to practice charts)! I could write a song about how much I like charts. I have found with 5 kids that they are the only way for us to encourage consistent and positive behavior in our home. Plus, it helps me keep track of where each of my kiddos are at a glance so that I can be more efficient at addressing individual problems AND achievements (that last one is super important)! Charts also teach children how to be independent, take initiative, and encourage personal accountability. I believe charts can facilitate both extrinsic and instrinsic motivation which is fancy talk for getting kids to do stuff without being nagged! Sigh, I could go on all day about my crush on charts!
But enough about me and my weird obsessions. Let's talk about how to organize jobs and schedules for kids.
So Here's Our Family's Strategy
Create your 'Big Job' chart. These are the main chores that kids do daily.
- Brainstorm and Plan out your 'Big Jobs'
- Divide your house into main areas (kitchen, bathroom, vehicles, bathrooms, etc)
- Find jobs in each of the rooms that will contribute to the overall feel and look and function of the home. Kids like to see their work matter and make a difference. They need to know that they contribute to the families well being.
- Make a weekly schedule for each of your 'big jobs' i.e. the different areas of your house. Each kid will keep the same big job for a whole week.
- Each big job should only takes about 5 - 20 minutes of the kids time per day, Keep it as simple as possible.
Create Your Kids Daily Schedule
Really ponder what it is you want your kids to learn through routine, habit, and daily consistency.
- Begin from the time they wake up to the time they go to school (read below to see why the morning matters). Ask yourself, "What do I really want them to accomplish"?
- Cover all your basis, but keep it simple and as short as possible.
- Put the jobs in an order that they most likely will complete them in. At our house, the kids will not be given breakfast if they aren't dressed first and have their bed made. Sounds super strict, but food talks and those two things are priority to getting to school.
- List big job on this chart, but leave the specifics to a different chart to keep this one looking simple.
- We chose to not list prayers and scriptures on our schedule chart even though we are very religious about doing them (pun intended). We really thought about including them, and it's not a bad idea. We were simply trying to keep prayers and scripture study more about the joy of it and less about simply checking them off.
- Good Tip - Place in sheet protector to mark and reuse a bazillion times.
Tips for Preschoolers
Start young! Kids are more capable and more enthusiastic when they are little then we give them credit for.
- Find ways for kids to help out beyond job chart. My preschoolers love to work, sometimes that is cleaning a wall with a spray bottle filled with water and a rag. Include them in your daily work.
- Use pictures instead of words so they can still fill the chart out on their own.
Chart Rules in Our Home
Reinforcing our charts and making them a habit has been well worth the effort
- Expect your new efforts to take time to become routine, maybe even up to a year. So stick with it, and be patient.
- Rewarding good behavior is the best reinforcement but in real life there are both rewards and consequences so in our home we have both.
- REWARD - When our kids complete their whole chart in the morning on time they get to fill in one of of their 20 boxes. When all the boxes are finished they get to spend extra one-on-one time with mom or dad playing a game, running errands, going to the book store, staying up a little late visiting, having a treat...you get the idea. And they LOVE the special time!
- CONSEQUENCE - Whatever jobs don't get finished in the morning, get doubled after school AND they do NOT get to fill in a square (it's double wammy)! For example if they didn't put their laundry away, they put it away after school AND start another load of laundry, or put away the towels. If they didn't clear off their dishes, they may have to wipe the kitchen table off after dinner, or wash the pans in the sink. If it's practicing they didn't do, they do double practice time. We try to keep the extra job related to the one they didn't do so that it seems like a natural consequence.
- I really try hard not to nag! The rewards and consequences are in place, it's up to them to decide when and how they will do it. We are trying to teach them that when you have good habits and work quickly and consistently, life is better. When you procrastinate or don't get the work done you don't reap the rewards....REAL LIFE LESSONS.