Monday, June 29, 2015

Summer Break: Flowchart to Fun

The kids have been home for summer break for over a week now.  I am so grateful for alarm-clock free days.  I love sleeping in late and get to now a few times a week.  My kids like the freedom to have fun at home, but they thrive on a schedule.  We’ve had a few lazy days where no set plans have been made.  Those days are fun, and with how busy our lives get during the school year, we need a lazy day every now and then.  But, when we have too much idle time too many days in a row like we’ve had now, things can get a little messy.  

Since messes are no fun to clean up, I decided that it’s time for us to straighten up our act.  We, meaning I, need things to flow smoother around here.  So we, meaning the kids, are going back to a schedule.  Yay!

The kids may not be cheering, but they’ll have plenty of fun sprinkled in their day.  But, first things first.  

The kids do help out around the house, but they tend to do that only when asked.  I’m the one who does the big chores like vacuuming, sweeping, and tidying up.  I don’t mind doing the bulk of the work, but since we’re all living in this house together, everyone should be pitching in more consistently.  In thinking how to get back on track, I did some summer chore brainstorming. 

I could print a daily chore list.

But not every day is the same. 

I could bark orders. 

But that’s no fun. 

I could threaten to take the fun away if the kids don’t help out.

But I don’t follow through on taking toys, computer time, or their lovies away.  And the kids have figured that out.  

I brainstormed a little bit more.  I thought about a chore list and a check list.  Those have lasted a few days when we’ve used them in the past, but I need something else.  So, I thought about what motivates the kids.  I thought about consequences for not following a list and for not following through with directions.  I thought about what happens when things get messy and how we really need some order in the house.    

I need something simple that outlines first this, then that.

I need something that can be tacked to the wall as a quick reference. 

I need something that will work no matter how full or relaxed our day is. 

I need something easily navigable for my youngest child on up to my oldest child.

I know what I need.  I need a flowchart!  

My kids love to play.  But playtime comes after taking care of ourselves.  The longer they’ve gone without their morning routine, the more I’ve had to remind them to eat first, to clean their room, and to be ready for the day on days we have to run out.  They know that once they’re done with the morning routine, they can play.  Then they can play all day.  They’ve been able to do that when we have nothing planned.  They love that.  And I love that they can play all day too.  

That takes care of the morning routine.  Our afternoon routine will see a little bit of formal learning. But not until after lunch.  

When we do the formal lessons, where I have the Pick an activity box, I’ll have an Afternoon lessons box printed that we can tape to the chart instead. 
Now, it won’t all be Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, but we will go over a few concepts taught last school year that need to stay fresh in their minds.  I also hope to do some vision therapy homework and some skill building activities that will hit on some OT goals my kids used to have when they were in therapy.  

The kids have already protested that they don’t want to do schoolwork, but some of our afternoons will include Spelling/Writing, Reading, Map Study, and Math Practice.  Since my children all learn differently, I have some ideas of how to review skills that I’d like them to retain.  We’ll use the white board, flash cards, puzzles, salt trays, and all manner of out-of-the-box ideas that I can think of to keep the kids motivated.  

Those flowcharts were designed for the daily schedule.  As far as bigger household chores like cleaning the bathroom, changing linens, and other tasks that need to be done once a week, I'll individualize a flowchart for each of the children.  I'm working on divvying up those tasks today and will have something that we can tack to the wall on Saturday when we turn to together to clean the house.  Just like the daily charts, once the tasks are complete, the kids will have the freedom to choose something that they want to do.  

We have almost two full months left of summer break.  I’m sure it will go by very quickly as most breaks do.  We’ll have loads of fun at the pool and with friends, but we’ll also take time to be more organized.  Being organized is good.  Time will tell if these flowcharts are good, too.  
Hopefully they will be and help the kids learn to go with the flow. 

xo, Cat

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