Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why I LOVE My Chore Cart

Last month while browsing blogs, I discovered a new chore chart that I was really excited about.  Part of my excitement was the fact that I already had the pocket chart (though mine is WAY too big and I had to fold it in half and pin it to make it shorter), so all I had to do was print out the cards, laminate them, cut everything out, and get started!

My girls were excited about the chore chart as well!  They loved the tickets they would earn, stars on a reward card, the idea of earning prizes or money that they could save up and go shopping with.  If they complete every chore by their name then they get a sticker on their reward card.  6 stickers fills the reward card which can then be exchanged for a prize/reward.  If they only do some of their chores then they get a ticket for each chore they completed.  Tickets are supposed to be traded in for really small prizes, or money.  My biggest concern when I first hung up the chart was the fact that the tickets could be traded in for small prizes.  With clean up prizes already being given out, I didn't want a surplus of small useless odds and ends laying around.  I was also a little worried about the cost of the larger prizes adding up. 

I decided that tickets could be exchanged for quarters, and completed reward cards could be traded for either a trip to the dollar store, or larger prizes from a prize bag.  They usually finish all their chores every day so there aren't a lot of tickets being handed out, but a lot of stickers make their way onto those reward cards!  My "big" prizes have been found mostly in the dollar section of Target, so they are cheap but the kids don't know it!

The girls also like that everything is visual - they can see exactly what chores they need to accomplish that day, and it's satisfying for them to physically move the chore cards down to the "all done" row.  They also like that their chores are not the same every day, except for the homework and pet-related cards.

I also love that it changes every day.  Chore charts in the past haven't worked because our chore needs change all the time.  I needed to be able to customize it every day.  Every night or morning I can decide what I want them to do based on what needs to be done.  If I know there will be a load of kids laundry that needs to get started in the morning, I can assign that chore to Sweet Pea.  If the floors aren't too dirty but could use a light mopping I can assign it to Babydoll.  If I have a sink full of pots and large stuff to wash, I'm not going to assign dishes to either of them... it's just too much for them to get clean.  I love the daily customization it allows! 

Every day Sweet Pea (age 8) is assigned the same two chores: Homework (which includes her daily reading aloud, spelling practice, and the once-per-week worksheets that come home), and filling the dog and cat's water bowl.  Then depending on the day she usually has 2 more chores, but if it's going to be a really busy evening I'll only give her one more so she has the best chance at succeeding.  Every day Babydoll (age 4) is assigned "feed dog" and "feed cat" and is given two other chores based on our needs that day. 

Some of the chores Sweet Pea gets are: clean litter box, start laundry, fold laundry, clean bedroom, vacuum, sweep kitchen, mop kitchen, make bed, and empty dishwasher.  Some of Babydoll's have been: sweep kitchen, mop kitchen, fold laundry, pick up bathroom (keep things put away and tidy, not actually cleaning it), dishes (sort of), make bed, clean bedroom, and set the table for dinner.

There are also "best bee-havior" cards that are supposed to be handed out for especially fantastic behavior.  Babydoll earned one when she voluntarily cleaned their very messy room without any kind of coaxing or help from anyone. And she did a very good job, so I gave her a "bee-havior" card.  She then got to exchange that for something fun - she chose a playdate with her friend, who then came over to play the next morning.  Sweet Pea earned one, though it was a month ago now and I can't remember what it was for.  It was something above and beyond typical expectations.  She also chose to have a friend over for the afternoon.

The very best part of this new system? I haven't had to beg/plead/nag at all!  I simply ask (if I even have to) if they finished their chores, and with a quick look they can either answer that they had, or can choose to do the chore.  It isn't a power struggle, I don't fret if they don't get every chore done or punish them for it, they simply get a "lesser" reward (which really isn't even a lesser reward consider the "bigger" prizes are still pretty cheap!)  They have been doing their chores now for one month without complaining or grumbling, except a couple times when they were bummed to have the same chore two days in a row. 

So there you go folks, a chore chart that actually works and is fun for the kids!  I wish I could take credit for it but I can't.  I found it at Confessions of a Homeschooler.  You can find the link in my initial post about this chart, here.


Stephanie said...

I just printed out these cards yesterday. My 2 oldest are 3 and 4 1/2 so I am going to start with the simple "chores" that we struggle every day with like brushing teeth and getting dressed. I don't have a pocket chart yet so I think I might get a foam board and use velcro dots.

Abby said...

Great idea for an alternative to a pocket chart! Preschoolers love sticking and unsticking things so velcro dots will be a hit I'm sure! You could do the same with tag board too, even have the kids color and decorate it themselves!

Thank you for your comment!

Jeni said...

Hey Abby,

I hope your comments are working right for you now. I like reading about your chore chart. It makes me want to get back to using mine. It does make the day go so much better.

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