“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.”
—Booker T. Washington
There is no doubt my children are a handful. With four children, ages 4 and under – we can be a maddening group for others that are not used to the commotion, loudness, and impulsive hands.
I’ve learned that my home has different rules than other homes. For instance, while many homes don’t allow feet and jumps and such on the furniture – Petra and Jasper who both love gymnastics are alwasy flipping on our sofa at home. They also jump inside, do handstands, donkey kicks, burpies, and make a lot of racket – that just doesn’t go over so well in other homes.
I certainly have a rambunctious and loud crew.
Last month after coming back from the mountains it was obvious we needed to do something more to encourage good behavior with our preschoolers. Thomas and I both agreed to institute a chore chart. I probably shouldn’t call it a chore chart, its really a daily responsibility chart – including good behaviors we would expect. For example, we expect the children to wake up with happy hearts, get dressed by themselves, brush their teeth, stay on task during any schoolwork or practices, sit still during story time, use manners saying please and thank you, learn and recite memory verses, eat their vegetables for dinner, etc.
The first day I spent time drafting up a chart with responsibilities (because I couldn’t find any I exactly liked online). I pulled out some gold star stickers and we moved forward each day with rewarding the children with stars as they completed responsibilities.
The spreadsheet I drafted was completely unnecessary….but I will get to that later.
We decided that each day if a child earned 10 stars they would be rewarded with a quarter that night to go in their piggy bank. And whichever child had the most stars for the day would get to stay up 15 minutes late, as a way to encourage them to continue to strive for stars all day. I was a little hesitant about starting a competition with them, but it has been successful so far and its also been a wonderful time for us to spend quality time with just one child. And honestly, they value this SO much more than money.
After a week or two my husband asked if I had checked out the apps on the iphone for chore charts. After a quick read through of about 4-5 different apps I decided on Chore Pad for two main reasons: 1) you can create your own list of chores and assign how many stars are associated with each chore (giving them different values), and 2) we could both use it on our iphones and then it syncs automatically so that no matter which of us gives the star – the other knows about it!
Here are two screenshots from my phone:
The results so far have been great. We gradually have added items to the list that they can earn stars for – everything from eating their food at dinner time to putting away the silverware to practicing piano. Obediance and happy hearts also wins them stars. As does helping someone else. Cleaning their room is worth 3 stars.
Currently, they have the ability to earn 33 stars a day. We also added a new rule that if they get 20 stars they automatically get to stay up 15 minutes late. Most days, this doesn’t happen. The first week or so Petra and Jasper averaged only 5-8 stars a day, but they are improving and we added some items – and now many days they are closer to 15-18 stars a day. It is still rare for them to get 20 stars a day, but with time I think they will be able to smoothly sail through a day with more and more positive behaviors. On days they tie, I may let them both stay up 5 minutes late – which they just giggle, hoot and holler over.
And in case you are wondering, we don’t take stars away for bad behavior. We decided to only focus on positive behavior. However, at the end of the day, there is always dicussion with the child that goes to bed on what they could have done to earn more stars that day. Whenever Jasper goes to be early, the next morning he is always on a rampage to earn stars fast. He’s helping, cooking and cleaning – asking for stars for the smallest deed. And in the evenings you might catch one of them running through the house trying to get some stars earned quickly. But usually we don’t have time for the last minute craziness.
I would say overall it is helping. And I love that Chore Pad offers a simple, paper free method to counting it all up. It takes some time to enter the information, and assigning stars daily is a chore for me – but for a handful of children it works. Currently its for sale in the apple app store for $1.99 and well worth it.