It’s Nanette here and I wanted to share something with you that has made quite a big difference in my own household.
I have 3 kids – one of preschool age, who is at home with me during the day, and two attending primary school (8 years old and 6 years old).
I was watching the two older ones get ready for school this morning and it reminded me of some time ago where every single morning was a frantic rush to try and get them to remember what they had to do…and to still be ready for school on time. I would have to ask them every couple of minutes – “have you brushed your teeth?” “Where are your socks?” “Did you pack your school bag yet?” (and many other things in between)…
I decided that I needed to change something to make our mornings run smoother. We all know that a calm, happy start to the day makes such a positive difference 🙂
So this is what I did:
I made a list of the tasks that they had to do every morning before going to school. Then I looked for pictures of these tasks, printed it out and had it laminated. I also made a visual schedule that I printed out and laminated. On the schedule was the list of child-specific tasks that they had to do each morning and two columns to indicate tasks that they had “to do” and tasks that are “done”.
How does this work?
Every morning all the pictures are in the “to do” column. As soon as they complete one task, they move the picture to the “done” column. This enables them to look at the visual schedule and see which tasks still need to be completed. They absolutely love their charts and the way that they can monitor their own progress through the course of the morning. It gives them a sense of responsibility, but also increases independence and the wonderful feeling of accomplishment when they are able to do (and remember) all these things by themselves!
The youngest one doesn’t quite understand the idea of the visual schedule yet. He actually makes me laugh, because he hears the older two telling me, very proud of themselves, “my chart is done” when they have completed all their tasks. So he would run to his chart, quickly move all the pictures to “done” and then excitedly inform me “my chart is done” even though he did not actually do the tasks on the chart :). I made the schedule for him, because he wants to do everything his older siblings do, but I still help him to work through his morning routine tasks and then I refer to the schedule to teach him how to use it – no rush, though, he’ll get there when he is ready.
The same idea of using a visual schedule to self-monitor, can be used for different routines and tasks. We always recommend using real photos of your child for his/her schedule, but in this case my kids wanted to choose pictures to use and I settled for that option to keep them part of the process of teaching them these planning and self-monitoring skills.
Don’t get me wrong – there are definitely some tasks that young children cannot do by themselves yet and that is perfectly fine. However, try to provide just enough support for them to get the feeling of “I did it!!”
I’m happy to share with you what these charts look like – send us a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll send you a picture of the chart. We have some excellent DIY projects that are simple and easy if you want to have a look at this channel: Pretty’s DIY FREE videos