So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (NKJV)
“What are we going to do today?”
“I have nothing to do.”
“Can I watch TV now?”
“When will you play a game with me?”
Do you have these same questions at your house? Are you going bonkers, getting through a long day with your preschooler? How do you stop the questions, and keep the day moving in a smooth fashion, while getting all the chores done, too? Please let me share what works in our family.
More than 20 years ago, we had a 3-year old girl who was always hoping for play time and art time and watching Barney on TV. Mommy wanted to do all those things, but I also had chores and errands and meals to fit into the day. So, I came up with a way for our daughter to see her day at a glance, knowing that her favorite activities would be coming soon.
We had a stack of Family Fun magazines at the time, so I cut out photos and cartoons of kids doing various activities, such as reading books, going to the park, eating lunch, etc. I glued these clippings onto note cards and strung them up with clothespins, so our daughter could check the next activity. Using clothespins made it easy to rearrange the note cards with each new day.
A few years later, we also had a little boy who wanted to know the daily plan, but first I needed the chores to be completed. So I took photos of the kids doing jobs around the house, from feeding the cat to sweeping the kitchen. I cut the photos into star shapes, put magnets on the back, and arranged them on the refrigerator. When each chore was completed, it was put into a special envelope. When all the jobs were finished, it was play time.
I used the star chores again with our third child. When he completed all the stars for the day, he received a “star-buck” good for buying a prize at the “Mom Buck” store once a week. Now he is almost 16 and would prefer Starbucks over one of mom’s star-bucks :-).
With our fourth child, we have made the stars a combination of chores and activities, so he can see the whole day at a glance. Each morning I rearrange and exchange the stars to show our plan. Joel’s day usually starts with feeding the cat, eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing his teeth, making his bed, and doing an extra chore. Then it is school time where he plays with Mommy, has stories, does a craft, and eats lunch.
After lunch, Joel heads outside for swings or sandbox, then comes in for a PBS Kids show. The late afternoon brings Legos or a project with Daddy. Dinner is followed by bath time, stories, and a bedtime prayer. Joel is so used to his schedule that he will remind me, “Mommy, you have to do my schedule!” He will even get sneaky and switch “pick-up toys” with “reading stories” so he can skip clean-up time. But Mommy is wise to this!
Over the years I’ve found our star chores and schedules can be used even into the early elementary years. When the kids have outgrown the photos, it is time to start a regular lesson book (about third or fourth grade). By then the kids have such a good routine, they know just what to do. I hope this will help answer the preschool questions at your house!
Apply your heart to instruction,
And your ears to words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12 (NKJV)
This article is part of my Home School Tea Time series, sharing a few things God has taught me in our 20 years-and-counting home school journey. Today’s message helps you plan your preschooler’s or early elementary student’s day. Be blessed and be a blessing!
New King James Version (NKJV)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.