Another homeschooling mom showed me a chore system she has been using with her kiddos for years (she has 9) and I was motivated to look into it. Why? Her home is in order. Her kiddos do chores without being nagged (I’ve been there several times to visit and seen them just going about doing chores without being asked). My home and kiddos… well, let’s just say that I was frustrated.
I bought one of the systems on ebay to test it out. It made such a difference that dh decided it was worth the money to buy two more for Faith and Cutie Pie.
The system comes with the plastic colored tags and sheets of stickers for you to decide when the chore should be done. You can make your own chores with the blank stickers given in the kit. The kit comes with the basic chores. We have added things like “Do something kind for a brother or sister”, “Take a nap”, “Do your BSF homework”, and “Read a book to a younger sister”. The system is not geared towards homeschoolers, but works just great for them. It has quite a few stickers that are for families with kiddos in school outside the home. Most of the testimonials on the website are from publically schooling families.
The rewards are pretty important. We have made a poster listing what the children can choose and it is posted in the hallway by their rooms.
Almost all of ours are freebies: have your nails painted, choose which movie we rent at Blockbuster, go run an errand with Dad, 15 minutes to stay up later, oatmeal pass (this was specifically geared to 2 of the girls who do NOT like oatmeal for breakfast), sit in Daddy’s chair for all meals one day (dh has a super cool rolling chair at the meal table that the children all want to use), set up a time for a friend to come visit, 30 min on the computer, etc. BUT some cost us: treat from the treat box (pencil grips, post-it notes, cool pens, candy, oatmeal creme pies, etc.), a drink from a fast food restaurant, an ice cream cone, and rent a Wii game. The key is that you reward them when they are ready to trade their tokens in. Immediately, if possible.
It has changed our family dynamic. I’m not nagging or frustrated. They are doing most things joyfully and being rewarded for doing things they are supposed to do. You might be like me and be wondering, “Why should I reward them for doing things that they are supposed to do?”
I struggled with this for many years. I’ve finally realized a couple of things: God rewards us (through blessings here on earth and with jewels in our crown in heaven) for obedience AND praising your children is much better for your relationship than nagging is for it.
We have our 3, 5, and 7 yos using this system. The 3yo is sorta getting it. She’s only been doing it since yesterday. It may take her awhile, but I figure early training will help, plus she would be very sad if she was the only kiddo not doing one. The 7yo has been doing it for a few weeks now and comes to breakfast with her hair brushed, bed made, and dressed without one word from me. Lots of that going on throughout the day!
We have not stuck with this all the time, but when we do use it, it blesses the structure of our home. My biggest issue has been finding treats that are free (money has gotten tighter and tighter), that aren’t made with HFCS, MSG or Apsertame, and that the kids still want AND it not always being computer time/television time.