Monday, August 12, 2013

The Back to School Countdown Is On!

The countdown to the first day of school is on in our home. Next week we have parent's nights at both the private Christian school where my super six year old will head back to first grade and at the special needs preschool where my persevering preschooler will have another go at a classroom setting. The Monday after that we begin hot breakfasts at the table, back packs loaded up, school drop offs and school buses. We haven't ventured out to purchase the school supplies yet but we are stocked up on uniforms and new shoes. And each boy has carefully selected his backpack. Just walking by the front door and seeing the bags hanging at the ready makes me happily anticipate Fall. Apple picking, high school football games, school projects. Love love love it.

I love the stick on hooks- the boys can keep their bags off the floor and I don't have to constantly remind them- win!

 A new school year seems like the perfect time to upgrade our chore/reward system. For the past year we have been playing around with a few different systems, trying to find the one that works for us. We tried check off sheets and token systems and we liked both, but they were often difficult to use and required a lot of hands on attention from Mom and Dad. All of our trial and error has also shown us that our persevering preschooler needs colorful charts and the ability to "do it himself". Always with the "I do it myself!" So I sat the boys down and asked them what they wanted. The super six year old did all of the talking and a new chore/reward system was born. His "demands":
  • monster trucks MUST be involved
  • rewards should be paid out weekly and no IOU's. (We were terrible about actually having the offered "reward" available when earned.)

Sounds easy enough. So we got to work. First I searched online for monster truck and fire truck clip art. I added these to a Word document so that I could print out six trucks on one page. I also printed out a monster truck stadium and a fire station. I created a "title" for each boy- the super six year old came up with these as well: "CRUSH YOUR CHORES!" for his monster truck theme and "FIRED UP TO HELP!" for his little brother. One quick trip to the copy store to laminate it all, a few Velcro dots and scrap book paper, and our new system was ready for use.

I decided to go with one day at a time instead of weekly in order to make it easier  for my youngest to understand. This way I can tailor the responsibilities to what is going on each day, which allows us to be more flexible. I simply write the chore on the truck and place it on the "TODAY" sheet. (Each truck is connected with Velcro to the daily chart.) Once the task is complete each boy just moves his truck to either the monster truck stadium or the fire station. Simple!
Some tasks are done because we are a family and everyone chips in to keep our home and lives running smoothly. Some tasks are done to earn money, which is a HUGE incentive for my six year old. If a task can earn money, the amount it is worth is written on the truck. (All of our current tasks are worth either .25 or .50.) At the end of the day I remove all of the trucks, but leave the ones with money attached. On Saturday the boys will get paid for the trucks "parked" that have collected all week. With only one task a day capable of earning money, we shouldn't be shelling out too much each week, but enough to make it feel super special to the boys.
I use a washable pen to write the chores on the trucks- this makes it easy to wipe them off and use again. With my youngster's propensity for tearing paper during meltdowns, I didn't want to go too fancy. Some of their daily chores include putting their dishes in the sink, cleaning up after their snacks, picking up their toys, completing a daily act of kindness, brushing teeth, (for the oldest), and using the potty, (for the youngest). Other chores, like cleaning out the car, pulling weeds, running the sweeper, cleaning out their bathroom sink, will earn them money money money!

So back packs are hung at the ready and chore charts are in use and working marvelously. (This morning I was wrestling with my youngest to get him dressed when I suddenly said, "Hey! Let's get dressed so you can move your truck!" He raced out of his jammies and into his his shorts in no time, all with a huge smile on his face. Good thing he can't read yet- the truck he parked in his station said "dishes to sink". Shhhh.) Our back to school dinner party is being planned - we are on our way to another great school year!

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