During our first week of school, I found myself nagging my first grader on the daily. Little arguments ensued which was basically my son trying to convince me to give him 5 more minutes to do whatever it was that he was doing. And his negotiation game is strong. It takes a lot of effort on my part to stick to my word and not cave. I also don’t particularly like having to say “no” all the time.

Nevertheless, I created this chart which we implemented in week two of school.

Many families use charts for helping their little ones learn responsibilities. But it’s not always as simple as putting together a fancy chart to get kids to follow along.

If you’re’ looking for a way to get into a weekly routine, want to nag less and get the kids involved in taking their responsibilities, implementing a simple chart like this may be helpful if done correctly.  I’m not terribly artistic, so I kept it simple and didn’t invest too much time putting it together. If art is your thing, you can take it to the next-level!

Here’s how to set it up so that you’re successful:

  1. Have a schedule in mind that you think will work for your family, REALISTICALLY. Keep your expectations about yourself, spouse and kids reasonable. Baby steps. Perhaps wait a few days or even a week and take some notes on “problem areas” in your after-school routine. For us, it was homework and dinner. These two were like curse words!
  2. Make sure the times are clear. Since my chart was handmade and I literally put it together in 10 minutes, it isn’t the most accurate. But a few minutes here and there really don’t make a difference.
  3. Incentives to stick to the schedule should be built into the chart. No prizes, candy, toys. The incentive is “free time” to do ANYTHING THEY WANT (within reason of course).
  4. “Free time” should be ample and visually clear on the chart. Put the free time directly after the “problem areas”. In my chart, “free time” is indicated by the orange squiggly lines. The catch is the sooner you get the responsibility done, the sooner you can take advantage of the “free time”. The longer you drag out the responsibility, it starts to dip into the “free time”. Choose wisely, kids!
  5. Get buy-in from the kids. This is just as important as anything else. The kids have to be excited and committed to the chart otherwise it’s not going to work and you’ll now be nagging about the chart.
  6. Place the chart at their eye-level. They need to be able to go read it, look at it, become one with it. Ours has found its residence on the fridge.
  7. Perception is everything so all family members must follow the schedule. If some of the children feel like they are getting short-changed, then again, this is going to fail. My three year old engages in other activities while my six year old does homework and then they use their “free time” together to usually watch TV.
  8. Stick to it! It takes a little time before the kids get use to checking the chart for what’s next on the agenda. When the begging starts for doing whatever it is that they want, you simply refer them back to the chart. If it’s “free time” then the answer is yes.
  9. If you find that the schedule needs to be tweaked, don’t hesitate to modify it. But again, make sure to get buy-in. Let the kids know that you noticed that certain things weren’t working so you want to make it easier by adjusting the schedule. No surprises.

If you decide to go the chart route, I’d love to hear from you on how it’s working. Best wishes to you and your kiddos for an awesome school year!