Update: I have to confess that I don’t use this system anymore. It was one of those things that seemed like a clever idea at the time, but just didn’t work for us. I’ve learned that for the preschoolers in my family, nothing can take the place of old-fashioned reminders and instructions. One of the charts still hangs on the wall in the event one of them takes an interest in using it, but for now, it serves mainly as a reminder for me to remind my preschoolers to brush their teeth and such. Try it out if you like, but don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work!
Chore systems… I seem to be constantly re-evaluating ours and tweaking them to fit the ever-changing dynamics of our family. Sharing chore ideas was part of the reason I ever started this blog, and there have been no shortage of updates since! Several months ago, if you remember, I wrote about how we had begun to implement the “Managers of their Chores” chorepacks. For the most part, these chorepacks have been a tremendous blessing to us. They have been very effective at keeping most of children on task. They continue to be heavily used on a daily basis, and have saved us a ton of frustration.
Yes, I said “most” of our children. The younger set (age five and under) had some problems with the chorepacks:
- I’m not sure that our four-year-old ever really grasped the concept of the cards.
- The chore cards would often fall out of their packs, and we’d need to re-sort them several times a day.
- While they understood the concept of “always put the chore pack away each day,” their understanding extended only to the realm of theory, not practice.
- We spent several mornings a week looking for misplaced chorepacks and lost cards.
Again, these problems were limited only to the “age five and under” children. For the older children, the chorepacks were worth every (very reasonable) penny.
I decided to design a new system for the younger kids who need to do morning habits and chores on a daily basis. Here’s what we came up with:
Everything you see above was printed on cardstock paper and then laminated.
On the right is Chelle’ morning chart, listing all the things she needs to do before eating breakfast. The little black rectangles are pieces of magnetic strips. The little princess crowns have magnets attached to the backs. After she does each item on her list, she places the princess crown next to it.
On the left side is Young Mike’s morning chart. He has knight helmets for his magnets. All the magnets are in place, showing that his ‘before breakfast” tasks have been completed.
The pictures on the list stand for:
- make bed
- get dressed
- put pajamas in hamper (or under pillow, depending on what day it is)
- tidy room
- brush hair
- brush teeth
When all have been completed, they come downstairs, where breakfast is typically ready and another chart awaits on the fridge:
The pictures on the list remind them to:
- Young Mike – empty silverware from dishwasher, Chelle – set silverware on table.
- Next they eat breakfast – no picture is necessary to remind them to do this!
- help clean up the kitchen: Young Mike dust-busts the floor, and Chelle wipes the chairs.
- tidy downstairs jurisdictions
- throw laundry down the chute for whoever’s laundry day it is
- ask me what their extra chore is – there is a different chore for each day of the week.
After several weeks of use, I’d have to say that this system is about as good as it gets for this age group: fun, hands on, visual, doesn’t get lost, and most importantly, it works!