With seven people living in a very small home, certain habits and routines are not only helpful, but mandatory. I am a firm believer that children find safety and success in having clear boundaries. Our morning time goes much more smoothly with clearly defined expectations. Enter our Good Morning Board.
Although we start every school year with some organizational routine or another, this year it came in the form of a simple chart. I wrote each of my "must be done before school starts" expectations on a piece of cardstock with easily-identifiable pictures for my littlest ones. A few nights before the first day of school during a discussion at dinner, the Hubs and I whipped out the chart and laid out our Good Morning Goals.
As I had hoped, with the dawn of a new school year came the successful initiation of the new routine. Although my morning time expectations had not really evolved much from last spring, summer, as always, had a way of making us lazy. For the past few days, however, the children have gotten up and have accomplished their tasks without having to be reminded or reprimanded.
Our morning routine is as follows:
- Watch 2 shows on PBS (I know some moms prefer not to have the TV on before school time or at all, but I have always opted for this route as it allows me to have a peaceful start to preparing breakfast and gives me a chance to complete my own personal devotions with minimal interruptions. And since they only watch one other show in the evening, I don't mind affording them Curious George. In other words, it works for us.)
- Clean your room and make your bed.
- Eat breakfast.
- Get dressed.
- Brush your teeth.
- Read your Bible/do your devotions.
What makes a chart...or any similar method...so successful is that the motivation is intrinsic. I do not have to nag them to get dressed, clean their room, etc. I simply point to the chart. I have devised it in such a way that the "reward" of obeying is natural. You do not eat breakfast until your room is clean. Food is a NATURAL motivator...especially for boys. ("If a man will not work, he shall not eat." 2 Thess. 3:10) School starts at 10:00, but if you can get your morning routine finished before 9:30, you will have extra time to play before school. If you do not get it all accomplished before 9:30, you may not watch 2 shows the following morning. NATURALLY! No nagging needed.
Admittedly, no plan this side of Heaven is perfect. I am sure, given a few weeks, even this seemingly "foolproof" operation will lose its luster. But, by establishing a helpful morning time habit, I am laying the groundwork for self-discipline which, in the end, will spare them from an entirely DIFFERENT kind of discipline in the future.
It's been four years since I made that first Good Morning board. Every new board has been just a wee bit different, but all have helped us start the morning with success SANS nagging.
This year, due to the growing maturity of my children and the evolving work schedule of The Hubs, our morning routine will look like this...
- Read your Bible.
- Clean your room.
- Eat breakfast.
- Get dressed.
- Brush your hair and teeth.
- Play time until 8:30.
The "Eat your breakfast" becomes intrinsic motivation for the first half of the list and the potential play time propels them to complete the rest.
For more information on our school day schedule, be sure to check out a Day in the Life of The Unlikely Homeschool.