Friday, July 31, 2009

Capitalizing

That sounds much more opportunistic in print than it did in my head...

Anyway, recently I'd grown weary of our morning and bedtime routines. Not so much the routines themselves, but the constant reminders to brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth, put on your pajamas, put on your pajamas, put on your pajamas!!!

I read Stephanie's posts about her success with Goal For It, and I considered trying it. In the end, I decided that Goal For It, while really cool, wasn't all that different from our Melissa & Doug Responsibility Chart. And the M&D chart, while neat, wasn't really working for us for a variety of reasons (the most basic being that we have only one chart, which caused problems because my two-year-old wanted to add her accomplishments to it, too). I probably could have figured out a work-around on that one until it occurred to me that the reason the M&D chart wasn't working for us - and why the Goal For It chart probably wouldn't work for us, either - was me! When reflecting on Stephanie's posts, it became clear to me that Goal For It worked for her because SHE was committed to it, not just her daughter.

Goal For It is the kind of thing my oldest daughter lives for, but me? Not so much. I'm not a structured person, I don't have a lot of things that I do habitually each day, I have trouble making schedules and plans and sticking to them...and I just knew that if I created a Goal For It chart that would require me to sit down with my kids, log in, go through each person's tasks each day, yada, yada, yada, it'd be just another system that we started and then fizzled out on - not the kind of example I wanted to set for my girls.

Then I thought about Practical Life activities and the gusto with which my girls do them. My two-year-old, in particular, is meticulous about doing each step in order and even reminds me when I forget steps. I decided to take advantage of their enthusiasm and put all of their morning and bedtime responsibilities squarely on their shoulders, with no check-marks or tallies or systems required of me. In the end, I created a list of things they should do each morning when they wake up and each night before they go to bed. I used clip art so that my two-year-old could "read" her chart, and I posted the charts in each of the girls' bedrooms.

The difference has been astounding. My oldest daughter wakes up and diligently does all of the items on her chart without any nagging/prodding/begging from me. My two-year-old needs a little bit more help (afterall, even with a step stool, she still can't reach the faucet), and I am more than happy to help out. But I cannot tell you what a difference the charts have made in their attitudes! Instead of doing something just because Mommy tells them to, they do it because it is their responsibility. Bedtime is still not 100% perfect, but it's running much more smoothly than it had been. Instead of constantly being after them to to brush their teeth, go potty, wash their hands, etc., the conversation goes more like this: "Great, now that your pajamas are on, what's the next thing on your chart?" See the difference?

The most amazing change has been morning, by far. One of the girls' nighttime tasks is to pick out their clothes for the next day. Then, in the morning, one of their tasks is to get dressed. So by 7:30 in the morning I have three kids dressed and ready to roll - how empowering is that?!

If you'd like to try something similar, you can download the morning and nighttime charts I made. I uploaded Word versions of the files so that you can change them as you like (for instance, I don't have "take a bath" on the girls' charts, because I consider that to be my responsibility, not theirs).

If you have a system that works for you, I'd love to hear more about it. And if you decide to try out the charts, please let me know how they work for your family!

3 comments:

montessori mommy said...

Thank you so much for all of the beautiful, helpful things you share! I absolutely LOVE your blog! I have just recently begun montessori homeschooling and I am so inspired by your blog. :)

Amber said...

Ahh, you've inspired me! - again - that is :)

Gigi said...

Thank you so much for this great post. I was JUST working on this with my kids this week. School will start in 21 days and I figured that I needed to get started on their routines again. We have been very relaxed over the summer.
Gigi