Our schedule is full. Our cups runneth over. Our plates are piled high. We are inundated. Dentist and doctor appointments, after school projects, assignments with long term deadlines, homework, baseball, swimming, basketball. Places to go, people to see, things to do. That snapshot to the left? That’s our actual calendar, minus a much needed update now that the school year calendar is in. Much bigger, I’ll give you, easier to read, but you get the gist.
For a long time, we’ve incorporated a scheduling system with the kidlets to help them organize their days, most importantly, their homework, using something that would help them visualize their time. We used to use blocks, but now have gone to using paper.
First they’ll write down everything they have to do after school, estimating the amount of time it takes to do each thing (the columns to the left above). This includes each homework assignment, chores, bedtime routine and even dinner.
They’ll total the estimated time and then move over a column and enter their start time and end time (bedtime) and come up with the total amount of time they have to do the things they’ve listed.
After they’re done with those tasks, they’ll use the “blocks.” There are four for every hour, each block representing 15 minutes. In the example above, the bottom right are the blocks, each column representing an hour, therefore a total of five hours are available to them. The colors match up with the tasks they’ve already identified so it’s easier to glance at it and know what they’re “in for.” In this example, the yellow-gray blocks represent free time. They were amazed to see that they were going to have almost two hours of free time, which was enough of a motivator to get cracking on the less desirable aspects of the schedule.
It may sound a bit anal retentive, but in truth, it’s become a wonderful motivator. Without us having to harp on them, they’re able to stay on task, get the job done quick and efficiently. They’ve learned that if the task isn’t done right the first time, not only do they have to do it again, right; but they’ve learned that they’ve doubled up on the time it takes to complete the chore which means it takes away from free time.
We started doing this about the time they were starting fourth grade. As the system progresses to match their cognitive levels, we still have to work with them initially to make sure they’re using the system routinely. They seem to like it and I can tell you we sure do! I especially like it because when my husband steps in to oversee their jobs (believe me, he’s very much a hands-on dad, but in this instance, I’m more hands-on for this), it’s easy for him to pick up and keep going, like he’ll need to do in a few weeks when I’ll be away for a few days.
Interested in this system for your kids? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to share!