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    Home Education, Other Thoughts

    School Prep: Morning Routine and Chores

    July 17, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the things I do each summer is figure out chores for the upcoming school year. I try to discern what will work in the summer, that I need not think about it again until the next summer. Sometimes, we can’t make it a full year on a routine, but generally it goes fine.

    These are not our only chores. I have not, for example, written out who helps with the morning and evening milkings, who mows the lawn, or any of a number of other things that have to be done. This is because those are things that change with the days and weeks, or that I may assign to whoever is available {or causing trouble}, or those things might be so habitual that it seems silly to put them on an official list. The things I’m thinking of are things that are done every single normal weekday, are assigned by me, and some of them are “new” to the child doing the job.

    The chalkboard list is what I use to check work. I stand by the board and interrogate the children. “Did you make your bed? Did you do your vacuuming? Did you get dressed? Then why are you standing here? You have work to do!”

    Morning Routine

    My goal has always been to have five things on the morning routine list, but my children prone to sunburns requested I put “sunscreen” on the list to help them remember. {They like to look at the list when they forget what they are supposed to be doing.} We are not huge on sunscreen, but there are two noses in our family that scorch no matter how much sun exposure they get, so a tiny bit of zinc oxide is dribbled on these noses each morning.

    Our morning routine list looks like this:

    • Teeth {as in: brush them}
    • Hair {as in: brush this, too}
    • Bed {as in: make it}
    • Sunscreen {for the aforementioned two noses}
    • Dress {as in: put on appropriate clothing}
    • Room {as in: tidy it up, Or Else}

    Daily Chores

    Every summer, my students graduate to new chores. Oh, they may keep some previous assignments, but generally I try and add or take away where it seems fitting. My four-almost-five-year-old needed more to do {it keeps him out of trouble and he’s really getting helpful}. My oldest needed a decrease in the number of chores because he has taken on more outside work {like mowing the lawn}. One daughter requested to scrub dishes because she thinks it’s fun. Another daughter needed more work because she is getting older and it’s time for that.

    So here is what I’m expecting from these children starting now, and {I hope} through the next school year:

    • E-Age-Eleven
      • Dishwasher: Load, run, and unload this all. day. long. I’m sorry your siblings break so many dishes that this job still falls entirely on you.
      • Patio: our goats run wild, so our patio is always in need of care; sweep it every morning and on Fridays spray it off with a hose.
    • A-Age-Eight
      • Table: clean off the dining table, wash it down, and then replace everything that should go back {like place mats}.
      • Goat Cage: get a rake, get a wagon, muck out the cage. During this time, also feed and water your rabbit.
      • Dishes {PM}: scrub any dishes dirtied in the afternoon hours.
    • Q-Age-Six
      • Laundry: get a load together and put it in the laundry room for Mom.
      • Vacuum: she vacuums a little each day, following a set schedule. Any extra vacuuming needed is usually done by one of the other children.
      • Dishes {AM}: scrub any dishes dirtied before noon; save the big pieces for Mom.
      • Silverware {PM}: put away clean silverware if it needs to be done in the afternoon.
    • O-Age-Almost-Five
      • Dryer: look inside and if there is something in there, take it out and put it in a laundry basket and put the laundry basket in the living room so Mom can fold the contents. Tell Mom you did this!
      • Trash: empty all the trashcans in the bedrooms and bathrooms into the big trash in the kitchen and reline the cans with plastic bags.
      • Nook: tidy the play nook.
      • Shoes: I don’t know why you all drop your shoes by the piano, but you do, so please put them up where they go. Yes, even the ones that are not yours. Why? Well, I was your laundry even though it is not mine, so you can put away shoes, even though they are not yours.
      • Silverware {AM}: put away clean silverware if it needs to be done in the morning.
    I find that these chores {coupled with my own regular chores and habits} keep things running smoothly around here. If we don’t do anything else, we do this, and it makes a big difference. On the few days a year when we are too sick to do this, I am quickly reminded how important these things are.

    When to do Chores?

    We have always had a collective chore time. It is after our morning Circle Time and breakfast, and before individual lessons. This year I am considering starting individual lessons directly after Circle Time and using chores as something a child can do while I work with another child–basically having lessons and chores all mixed up together. Has anyone tried this? Do you have thoughts on this?
    For example, I could do math with Daughter A while Daughter Q vacuums, and then switch and do math with Daughter Q while Daughter A cleans the goat cage. Would that actually work? It is something I’m considering and I’d love to hear if any of you have tried mixing lessons with that sort of activity. I’m a little concerned about having enough individual lesson time since both girls will still need me to read most of their lesson books aloud to them.

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    14 Comments

  • Reply How to Take Charge of Your Homeschool Day - Ed Snapshots January 30, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    […] School Prep – Morning Routine and Chores […]

  • Reply K August 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    We redid our kitchen (Hallelujah!) this year. I’ve put all the dishes in the lower cabinets except glasses which didn’t fit. Now the kids (7,5,2) can put everything away without me. Now, maybe they can train their father….

  • Reply Hayley Beck July 24, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Brandy, I love this. We have chores but they are few and simple. Seeing what Q-Age-Six can do is making me re-think what I expect of my 5 1/2 year old and four year old. We started chores last August but I have felt I have hovered as they do their chores, whereas it seems you are allowing your children more freedom in completing their task. I am encouraged and going to try upping the ante. Thank you.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      Hayley, I will say that chores often need to be very specific to each child. What Q-Age-Six can do is something that A-Age-Eight would have been incapable of at that age. At age six, A’s chores looked more like O-Age-Four’s chores, if that makes sense. She was still learning to make her bed, or empty a trashcan without spilling trash all over the floor (and leaving it there). She is definitely the latest bloomer out of all my children, over all. I never had trusted her with the vacuum schedule because I know the house would just be filthy. Next year I’m going to give it to her because I know it would be good for her, but it’s not a battle I’m willing to fight with her right now.

  • Reply sara July 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Brandy, I’m sorry to keep hogging the comments, but I wanted to let you know that you really did inspire, and eventually motivate me. This has been a somewhat chaotic year for us and we’ve be very irregular about chores. Things are finally settling down and really just needed a kick in the butt to get back to a routine, but everything I thought of or saw on line, or read in one of my MANY organizing books was so complicated.

    Your chart is so simple and easy to understand, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, I hope you don’t mind I modified your layout for my own purposes. I can’t draw, so mine isn’t as pretty, but I tried.

    Anyway, after two or so days, I complimented my children on how well and cheerfully they were doing their chores and my oldest said, “It’s almost a habit now.” If only! But my house is so clean!! And the chickens have water. And we all still have time to play. So, thank you, Brandy.

    • Reply sara July 21, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Ach. Typos all over the place. Sorry.

  • Reply Brandy Vencel July 18, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you Lisa and Sara for sharing this experience! You are definitely making me rethink the idea. This makes same to me that too many different types of activity would detract from a learning atmosphere–that was what I was most worried about and you have confirmed that for me…

    • Reply Kelly August 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm

      Sorry this is so late — I’ve tried mixing things up too and have had the same problems with everyone getting distracted the other ladies mentioned, with a couple of exceptions. One is my son who takes care of the animals. Since he’s is able to do things without being supervised and since he’s outside it’s not distracting.

      I know that the reason I have trouble with this is that I never succeeded in getting my kids to feel responsible for their work until they were practically grown, so they needed me to watch them, and I’m so forgetful that I forget I’m suppose to be inspecting chores until, oh, bedtime. Or breakfast the next day when I find things undone.

      But you don’t strike me that way. It seems like you’ve been far more consistent in training your children, so you could at least try mixing it up and see how it works. Maybe save vacuuming for a non-study time (unless it’s in a part of the house where the noise won’t be distracting). My younger kids learned not to be distracted by their big sister making lunch while I was reading Our Island Story to them (our school room is the breakfast area in the kitchen).

      You’re doing a great job with your kids — keep up the good work!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Ah, the outside chores! That is a good idea, and just might work.

      I *do* by the way have trouble with inspection from time to time. We’ve had guests in our home for 16 of the last 28 days (not all in a row, but throughout that time) and then I *really* fell away from that habit…and so they fell away from theirs as well! Yikes. I’m trying to start school on the 19th, so I have a week to get them back in shape. 🙂

      Thank you for the encouragement because sometimes I really feel like just doing it all myself, but then I remember that I am delusional and not really capable of that, with four people undoing it as fast as I can do it! 🙂

  • Reply lisa-v July 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I find whenever I try to mix things up that way, I end up pulling out my hair as the ones who are supposed to be doing chores end up “distracted” by the toys they’re supposed to be putting away and then my school time is lost as I re-direct said children. I like having them all concentrate on the same thing so when I am working with the big guys (my kids are 11, 9, 7, 5, & 3 – the 5 yo is the only girl) my little ones are colouring, playing or looking at books all in the same room. I mainly have to work with my 7 year old though, so that makes it easier for me. The 9 & 11 yo’s both have their list for AO books and (for the most part) work very well independently on schoolwork.

  • Reply Ann-Marie July 17, 2013 at 10:03 pm

    I love how you post your chores, Brandy! Very nice and you have beautiful handwriting too 🙂 We usually do chores after we finish up for the day with school or after lunch on a non school day. I like the idea of doing it after circle time. If I remember, you begin pretty early in the morning don’t you? We try to begin by 8:30 most days. Off topic…I was reading what you had to say about spelling a while back. Are you still using Sequential Spelling {and loving it}? Would love to hear if it worked well for you over the years. Thanks!

  • Reply sara July 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    This is inspirational. Unfortunately, I’m stuck in bed due to 95 degree heat and 54% humidity so you’ll have to step it up from inspirational to motivational. 🙂 I kid, I kid.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 17, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Whoa. That is some humidity! I really don’t know how you do it. I am accustomed to high temps–we have had triple digits for a couple weeks straight–but our humidity is very low. Even when it is 112 in my milking shed, I do okay. But I remember Florida with a shudder. I could hardly move; the air was so oppressive to me! Our humidity is 15% today and that seems like a lot to me. You have my sympathies. 🙂

    • Reply sara July 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Brandy, we have tried mixing up lessons and chores, but it doesn’t work very well for us because the child doing the lessons is distracted by all the activity and the child doing the chores asks questions and needs direction.

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