Last weekend we were at a homeschooling conference, which was helpful for me on many fronts.
About a month ago, I set up a schedule for chores and was trying to stick to it. The keynote speakers at the conference were Steve & Teri Maxwell. They have 8 children and have written 2 books about scheduling - one geared on homeschooling multiple children and another geared towards chores. Two weeks into our new "Team S---- Housekeeping Chart", I had been experiencing some "blips" and was thankful for their advice along the way. At the end of the one session, devoted to chores, I was particularly encouraged to keep at it with my boys - despite the "reminding" and "quality control" that needs to be part of the whole endeavour.
I have found one of the most difficult parts of setting up the schedule was finding age- appropriate tasks for my boys to do. Here's a list of the chores they have:
7 year old son (Monday) feed cats, gather laundry, sort laundry, put away laundry
(Tuesday) feed cats, vacuum kitchen, dust lampshades
(Wednesday) feed cats, empty garbages, polish shoes
(Thursday) feed cats, wipe bathroom counters, gather library books
(Friday) feed cats, clean french doors, wipe mirrors
(Saturday) feed cats, clean out van, vacuum main floor & kitchen
5 year old son (Monday) dust railings, put away laundry
(Tuesday) wipe doors (week 1) wipe knobs (wk 2), wipe window frames (wk3)
(Wednesday) wipe baseboards
(Thursday) dust door jams
(Friday ) wipe cupboards (week 1 - kitchen, wk 2- bathrooms, wk 3- bookcases)
(Saturday) tidy garage, tidy shoes
We have yet to make it successfully through a whole week, but we're getting there... and I'm noticing that the boys are mastering the chores bit by bit. Now they are starting to complain less, and accepting their jobs as part of the "Team", and they're becoming familiar with supplies, etc.
Some of the things I have learned:
- pay attention to SAFETY ( a good reminder for me from Steve Maxwell).... I especially like vinegar and water as cleaning ingredients, paired with a good cleaning cloth from the dollar store
- try to choose chores that are age-appropriate... I'm still figuring this out
- be clear in teaching the task and expectations
- inspect the chore after it's complete.... Teri Maxwell mentioned this. I was thankful to learn that this can be an excellent opportunity for me to affirm my sons, as they complete tasks properly. Without this inspection time, I generally only notice when a chore is NOT completed well... and that means only giving negative feedback, which I want to counteract with positive words.
- try doing chores after lunch but before play time.... I have tried doing chores before homeschooling, and found we were using up their best brain time to "dust railings". For the last 2 weeks, we do our morning checklist, homeschool, lunch, chores, and then play time. I find the incentive to stick with chores is exceptionally high at this time, since playtime is the desirable reward at the completion of chores.
These are only my findings thus far. In the coming weeks I want to try out the Maxwells' "ChorePack" idea. If it works, I'll post on it FYI.