September 14, 2010

Checklists for Children

I'm a list-maker by nature. One thing that I have found to be helpful is to make checklists for children to remind them of routine things they need to do. For instance, now that my older boys are in school, here is the list of morning "to do" items:

  • Get dressed
  • Put away your pajamas
  • Make your bed
  • Eat Breakfast or grab to-go cup
  • Brush Teeth
  • Put Lunch & Water bottle in your backpack
  • Put on Socks & Shoes
  • Put on Sweater 
  • Grab your backpack – make sure your homework is in it.
I also have an after-school list. I post one copy of the list in their room, and another in the entry way. The checklist helps us in three ways. First, it cuts down on *my* frustration. Instead of constantly reminding them to do this or do that (and, when you have 2 or 3 boys at different stages in the getting-ready process, that's a lot of words), all I have to say is, "where are you on the checklist?" or "check the list!".

Second, it makes the boys responsible for their own daily tasks without asking them to remember a bunch of stuff first thing in the morning when they are still half asleep.

Third, I have one child who has difficulty processing verbal information, so for him, being able to read a list increases the chances that he will get himself ready in a timely manner, without my nagging at him.  And since my husband is usually the one getting the boys up and ready in the morning, it helps him remember, too.

For pre-schoolers, checklists are great, but they need to be short, simple, and combined with pictures or symbols. For little ones just learning to go potty on their own, I post this list in the bathroom:
  • SHUT DOOR (I add this to the list when we have a crawling/walking baby in the house.)
By each item on the list, I have a simple clip art drawing; for instance, a pair of hands or a bar of soap for "wash hands"; a light switch for "turn off light". You can search the internet for simple black & white clip art, draw your own, or cut pictures out of magazines. I can never get the hang of formatting clip art images within word processing documents, so I print them on a separate page and glue them to the list.

Some people have a chore chart which includes everyday tasks like making beds. But I find it easier to have targeted lists for particular days and times of day that can be posted in a location where the tasks are to be done, rather than in a central location. If you homeschool but go to church on Sunday mornings, you might want to put weekday tasks on your chore list in the kitchen, then post a Sunday Morning checklist by the front door just for getting ready. You can even make a list for yourself!  Keys, bible, diaper bag, etc. You know, the stuff you are always running back into the house for.

Another nice thing to do is include a message at the top or bottom of the list ("Welcome Home from School! Don't forget to...") and a scripture, motto, or encouragement.

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