Sharing today about the kids’ routine chart! Several of you asked for more details on the chart I mentioned in this post, and how I get the kids to stick with it.
Children love routine! It gives a sense of security and confidence when they know what’s going to happen next. As they get older, that knowledge also brings a sense of accomplishment: I can do this myself. No one told me to. I chose to.
First of all, can I say – we had the same routine chart up in their room for almost 3 years now. When I went to take photos of it for this post, I was all – ew, it’s dirty, let me print a new one. But I had printed that one in my pre-organized-blogging days and couldn’t find the exact one. #oops #nothelpful
I hunted around on the interwebs until I found one that has all the same items on it, and is available as a free printable. You can find it here. (I Heart Organizing has great family-friendly printables for all kinds of stuff.) This time I saved it so if I need to reprint it in a few years, I’ll know where to find it. 😉
There are 8,000 ways to implement routines and charts with little ones, but this is what has worked well for mine for going on 3 years now, soo I don’t plan on switching things up any time soon! 😛
Here’s the routine chart.
As you can see, it covers all the basic steps for getting up and out the door on a regular day. When we’re not in school, I still have them follow the first several steps.
HOW WE USE THE ROUTINE CHART:
1. Focus on the skill before the chart. I don’t have them pay much attention to the chart as toddlers. I do each step with them in the mornings until they’re able to do it for themselves. With my kids, this is usually around 3/3.5. At that point, then I start focusing on the chart, and encouraging them to complete each step without coming back to me till the end of the list.
I can’t emphasize enough that teaching skills/routines is easier to start younger!
Obviously, I don’t expect Lucas (age 2) to be as totally independent as Mikey (age 6), but you better believe that Lucas is learning to dress himself, feed himself, help himself to food and drink, put away his laundry, clean his room, etc. Does it take longer to teach him how to do it than to do it myself? Absolutely. But if the trade off is that my 4-year-old is confident enough to complete all the basic steps on this chart, get herself breakfast, and start her day – I’m all for taking a few minutes to teach my toddler.
2. It will take 2-3 weeks. Once he’s able to do each step independently, I start pointing to the chart instead of doing it with him. Like, I literally point to the chart, and ask: “What is this? What should you do now?” That kind of thing.
Implementing any kind of routine takes time, and this no different. Expect it to take 2-3 weeks to sink in. Do it every day. If you do a day, skip 2, do another one, skip 4… that doesn’t count. 😉
3. Don’t offer rewards. I feel pretty strongly about this one with my kids, although I know rewards work well for some. In our family, rewards are special things – you earn them for exceptional actions, not every day ones. Every day actions, whether routine chart, chores, etc. – these are part of family life. We each do our part to help home and family comfortable. You follow the routine chart because that’s what we do in our family, not because you get a lollipop, sticker or new toy if you do.
4. Give thoughtful praise. As “rewards” go, words of affirmation are high on the list around here. “You did the whole chart with NO help! I’m proud of you!” “I saw you check the chart for your next thing – that’s exactly how it’s done. Great job!” You get the idea.
Kids pick up on tone long before they can articulate it. Nobody likes being patronized or talked down to, but everyone likes to know that their effort is appreciated.
Psst… I know there are tons of fingerprints everywhere and my floor needs to be washed. But hey, I never promised perfection in this post, just a routine chart, ok?! 😉 haha
5. Model it. Did you think this chart was just for them? Sorryyyyy… it’s for you, too, Mama! 😀 Actions speak louder than words! Am I brushing my teeth, getting dressed, staying focused until my (invisible 😛 ) chart is done? Or am I running crazy/distracting myself or chasing all my kids without taking care of myself?
The kids understand that Mom’s “chart” has different steps on it than theirs – I have to change the baby, DRINK MY COFFEE!!! ;), etc. – but the concept is the same. Each person should be following the steps on the chart.
6. Help them once in a while – just because. You know what’s wonderful about independent kids? Being able to step in and do that Mama thing every now and then. <3
Sure, baby, I’ll tie your shoes – not because you can’t, but because I love you and want to be kind. Yes, I can grab your glasses for you from your bureau – not because I have to, but because I choose to. I would love to butter your bagel/pour your juice, etc. today!
Having the choice to help – and giving them the choice to ask for help or not – is rewarding to all of us, parents and children.
Confidence, independence, security, kindness – these are important to a young child’s development, and something so simple as a free printable routine chart has brought such positive results in our family.
Do you use any kind of chart or system with your kids? Share in the comments!