Morning and evening “routines” should be just that – routine! Customary. Habitual. As adults, we know that the same things need to be done each morning before officially “starting the day” and each evening before “climbing into bed”. For kids however, it is often helpful –and sometimes necessary- to have the expected routine posted…and for pre-readers especially, to have it in word and picture form.
When my oldest child was around 3 years old, I began using charts with pictures I’d clipped from magazines to show him what needed to be done each morning and evening. The morning chart had a crowing rooster on the top of it to let him know that this list was to be followed in the a.m. I put images on the chart of the things he was to do such as getting dressed, making the bed, eating breakfast, brushing his teeth, and putting away his pjs.
The evening chart (topped with a yawning child) pictured cleaning up toys, using the bathroom, getting that last drink of water, putting pjs on and dirty clothes in the laundry basket, brushing teeth and choosing a book for us to read together. Those two charts have been fun for the kids to “read” on their own, and gave them a sense of pride and accomplishment in their little independent ways.
Many families have found other means to accomplish the same thing – the training of their children to become responsible little people. I’ve seen some parents take photos of their own children following the expected schedule and then print and post these pictures for their kids on a chart. A wonderful idea.
The ‘instructions in images’ were very helpful for us. But as the kids grew and my older ones didn’t need that cute picture-chart any longer (and became responsible for more things), I tried a new tactic. I listed whatever needed to be done on hole-punched cardstock and attached them to a ring clipped on a lanyard. They kept the lanyard on a hook in their bedroom and put it on each morning and evening, wearing it around their neck or waist until the items could all be checked off as successfully complete. This method allowed me to make changes to their chores with ease – to add or subtract chores (depending on the schedule for the day or an earned reward), to switch up who was responsible for certain jobs, etc. It also helped the kids because they always had their “list” with them – rather than having to return to a posted chart in a certain location every time they finished a chore to see what else they were to do. The last item on their morning list was to come to Mom for a hug. I loved it…and it let me know when their chores were done! In the evening, I could check with them as we said good-night.
Currently, neither of these systems is being used in our home. But not because they were unsuccessful. We’re just in a new stage of life and are on to a new technique! And it, too, is working well. It really isn’t the mode we use… it’s simply finding a process that fits our home/family for our current stage in the journey of life…and then implementing it. It takes consistency on our part… first in the training and then in the expectation. But when we look back, and we have raised responsible kids that are helpers and true blessings, we will be so glad that we took the time today to focus on routine responsibilities.