Teaching children to work, Pt 7

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a chore chart system for Gabriel (5 years) and Bronwyn (4 years), borrowing from several great ideas I’ve seen others come up with. (In other words, I can’t claim any creative genius for what you’re about to see!) Developing a system was important to me for a number of reasons:

  1. I knew I wasn’t expecting as much of my children as they were capable of in terms of helping around the house, but I didn’t want to just start assigning things that would become burdensome to them. I felt an established system would help us all be on the same page as I challenged them to do more.
  2. I needed to do a better job at intentionally teaching them household chores and felt that a system would hold me accountable.
  3. At their ages, I feel that incentives can be a useful tool for teaching them that work really does bless us. In time, they will certainly be expected to do things around the house simply understanding that their contribution brings other rewards (like peace, order, and a sense of accomplishment), but for now, I feel like tangible rewards are appropriate and helpful.

This is how our system works:

First, I assigned a number of different, age- and skill-appropriate chores to Gabriel and Bronwyn.

dsc04553.JPGThen I printed and laminated pictures that go with each chore, affixing a magnetic strip to the back. These are kept in a small envelope that is taped to a metal door in the kitchen (which allows the magnets to work somewhere other than the refrigerator).

Each morning (or the night before, if I’m really on the ball!), I take out the chores that will need to be dsc04550.JPGdone that day and put them under the “Do” tag. I still very much take responsibility for making sure the children are being reminded to do their chores and to assist as necessary (i.e. their laundry can’t be put away if I haven’t washed and dried it), but the kids are increasingly familiar with thinking ahead and being proactive.

At the end of the day, assuming they have done all their chores and have done them instantly, cheerfully and thoroughly, they are given a check mark.

dsc04554.JPG(Both Gabriel and Bronwyn had one day each when they didn’t get a check mark because their attitudes about the work were poor– crying and whining and complaining– and it seemed to have left quite the impression because neither one has had to lose a check mark due to lack of cheerfulness since then!)dsc04739.JPG

When they have filled their reward box with check marks, they get to draw a “coupon” from a jar. These coupons are little slips of paper on which I wrote out various rewards: have a friend over, pick out dinner one night, rent a movie, go on an errand with Daddy, get ice cream, etc.

We’ve been utilizing this system for about 3 months now and so far it has been a tremendous blessing! The kids anticipate future rewards even more now that they’ve achieved some. I find that the presence of the magnets all over the door really does keep me accountable to continue training them in the basics of work: how to do the tasks properly, what sort of attitude we ought to have, and that there is great joy in serving the Lord through it all.

On a very practical note, my favorite part of this particular system is that I’ve been able to add new chores simply by printing and laminating a new image and tucking it in the appropriate envelope. There is no major overhaul involved in changing things.


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  1. I love it — brings back many fond memories of climbing the beanstalk with magnetic shoes, picking fun rewards from big jars, wheel charts, and such. Fun days, fun season. Enjoy!

    Posted by darlene | September 2, 2008, 8:07 am
  2. Hi Brietta :) That is a wonderful system! Thanks for sharing it with us. Love & hugs, Q

    Posted by Quinne | September 2, 2008, 12:10 pm
  3. Fantastic system! I will be trying this approach out in the near future. :)

    Posted by Mary | September 15, 2008, 1:51 pm
  4. What a great idea. I am going to try this! Thanks.

    Posted by Gina Murawski | September 19, 2008, 12:07 pm