June 7, 2014

Morning Place Mats

What parent wants to follow their children around reminding them to take care of basics like getting dressed or to pick up after themselves?  What parent wants to nag about getting everything together before school or getting their chores done?  We're not perfect and yes my children sometimes leave a trail of dirty clothes, leave a room a disaster, or leave their lunch at home.  But, I don't want that to be our norm.  I want to raise boys with awareness and responsibility.

http://ichoosejoy2day.blogspot.com/2014/06/morning-place-mats.html My children work best with routine, so I work with that.  When my oldest was in 1st grade and my youngest started 3-year-old preschool, we started setting out a place mat for each boy at breakfast.  Our oldest has always been an excellent reader, so his place mat has words.  Our youngest has a picture schedule.  The left column labeled "To Do" is their morning routine.  The right column is our version of "Get Your Gear," which is a list of what they need to gather to be ready for school.  If they are not staying on task in the morning, I simply say: "Check your chart.  Are you all ready?"

Morning place mats work for us for a variety of reasons: The boys like it.  If they are off task, I can ask a basic question and I do not have to remind them about specific responsibilities all morning.  They like being responsible and independent.  I, of course, like this too.  Also, they are motivated to get ready so they can fit in some free time (like playing or reading) before school.  Sometimes, when they don't need reminders and have been very responsible, we even let them have a little screen time before school.  It's so nice not to have rushed, stressful mornings!

This system has worked wonderfully unchanged over the last 2 years.  As the children got older, they've helped with more "chores" throughout the day.  In the morning and after school, the boys have gotten used to looking for dishes or silverware to put away, laundry to fold and put away, or another way to help out around the house.  The great thing is that jobs have gotten done with very few reminders!

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