When we first started homeschooling grade level in 2012, I took the summer before to get our home life running a bit more smoothly, and it really paid off. We instituted a system for chores (see post here: Restore Sanity) that we tweaked off and on over the years. More recently, when our life got very chaotic, we decided to just assign one chore to each child, the same every day. It worked fairly well, after some bumpiness, but we had some feelings of being underappreciated and under-appreciating the work of others.
Complicating this is that we’re in summer phase. We’ve had a really intense year, “moving” basically 5 times, and homeschool really suffered. So we decided to take a full break from school for the summer; that, plus we are very busy this season with Nathan’s new work as a pastor (and we’re doing a garden). I am going to have five students in the fall and without help (we’re trying to find a tutor), the kids are going to need to start taking more ownership of their own learning. So for the summer I’ve decided to “encourage” more independence. Their new chore chart includes several school related things that they can do on their own time – reading, doing math pages, geography puzzles, etc – and if they do at least two in a day, after getting chores done they can have their 20 minutes of computer game time. If they do more school things, they’ll get bonuses. Today is the first day. Our master chore list hasn’t changed much. The most significant change is that each of the 3 olders are paired with one of the 3 youngers. The other difference is that I’ve printed out a weekly chart with checkmarks. Each of these is in a plastic holder that’s made to be used with dry erase markers, so they can re-use the same chart every week.
We’ve stopped our reward board (see here) system and just stuck with our normal system of allowances. Each week, each child doing chores “gets” $4 (Canadian money lol). But we keep $0.50 for sharing and 0.50 for saving (12.5% each), so they receive $3 each. They can spend it in the “Mommy Store” which is a little system where I buy treats like Kinder Eggs or granola bars and sell it to the kids at the price I pay. We use old The Game of Life money so they get used to handling and counting money, the $100,000 bill is our dollar, $20,000 is 0.20, etc – the old money is necessary, the new Life money just say “K” now. Or when we go into town, they can buy things at the dollar store or grocery store. This system has worked really well in a few ways; their money handling and addition has really improved, and, even better, there is NO whining at the store!!! They just ask if I can buy something for the mommy store if they can’t afford it themselves right then. Because, of course, at $3 a week it’s awfully hard to buy granola bars or chips or what have you because those things often cost more – up here, everything costs! You can hardly find something for $1 at the Dollar Store even, most of it’s $1.50 or more.
I’m really hoping we’ll be seeing fruit of this in the fall. Of course, in the short term it’s more work. My “dishwasher” is training her siblings on the proper way to load the d/w! And my sweeper today needed to “see” that there _is_ dirt under the table, in the corners, etc – the change from always doing the dirty diapers was so exciting, but realizing the new jobs are actually work was a let down. 😛
That’s one thing about homeschooling. When _everyone_’s home all the time, the home simply MUST be a working team or everything falls apart. Here’s to hoping!! 🙂