Oct 9, 2010

Chores

We believe in the importance of working and having a good work ethic. So we start our kids off right from the start. Each of our kids got their first chore as soon as they learned to walk. They were responsible for helping to pick up toys every evening. At first, it was a simple: pick up the toy, throw it in the basket, then we went on from there.
Now, at ages 3, 4, 6 and 7, they have a lot of chores that they are responsible for every day. I prefer to give them the same chores over and over so that they know what they are supposed to do, and so they can gain mastery over that skill. Because, although I keep my expectations age-appropriate, I do expect them to get better and better at it as they go along.
We are strong believers in a stable, scheduled environment for children. We are flexible when we need to be, but the kids know that 99% of the time our day will flow in the same general direction. I am not a clock watcher, but we have ALWAYS laid down for naps directly after lunch. There is no argument about it because they just accept it as a part of life. So the bulk of their chores happen in the mornings, between breakfast and school. With that in mind, I created our chore cards and pockets.
They have a picture on a card for each chore. I used pictures because I still have two non-readers and the pictures are more visually appealing to the readers. Each card is color coded to the child.
I found these cool paper pockets at the Dollar Tree, so I glued eight of them onto the inside of a folder. Each night, when they pick up toys, they are supposed to put all their cards in the left-hand pocket. Then, after breakfast each morning, as they do their chores, they shift each card to the "I did it!" pocket. (Nate, who sometimes forgets to sound out words, was, at first, slightly indignant that I would write "idiot" on the pockets.)

IMG_2237edited.jpg picture by 4littlepenguins

Every day they are expected to: put their dirty dishes in the sink; wash their hands and faces; get dressed; put their pjs in the laundry; brush their hair; and make their beds. Nate wipes the table and Kaytie rinses the breakfast dishes. Additionally, they have chores that they do throughout the day on an as-needed basis. They fold and put away their own clothes. They pick up toys every night before bed. They unload and load the drier. Daniel and Abbie take turns setting the table. Kaytie and Nate are learning to vacuum. And we all work together to unload the dishwasher, fold towels, and empty the trash. These are extra cards that I load in the left-hand pockets each morning so that they can move them as they do them. 
When we work together on jobs, everyone has their own particular part of the job that they are responsible for. This eliminates "I did all the work" fights. Kaytie folds big towels, Nate folds hand towels, and the washrags are divided evenly (I divide them) between Daniel and Abbie. 
The cards and the pocket are for visual reminders for the kids. I can say, "Go do your cards." And the responsibility is then on them and I don't have to remind them of each individual job. At this point, they get nothing for doing their cards except for a happy momma and the satisfaction of a job well done. We do eventually want to give them an allowance in order to teach them the value of money. However, I have pointed out that they will not ever get "paid" until they can do their jobs cheerfully and without reminders from me. I have no problem with saying, once, "Have you done your cards?" but after that, I expect them to be able to complete them on their own.

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