For about 18 months now we’ve been using star charts with the boys, with much success. We’ve seen behaviors improved, some even to the point of not needing to be on the chart anymore, and we’ve seen the addition of simple chores the boys can do. This fall we tried adding a “Ready for School on Time” category to the charts, in hopes that it would lessen the morning stress. Sadly, it’s not been working as well as we had hoped.
Here’s the problem with the boys – it’s not that they don’t know where stuff is, or how to get dressed, or how to wash their faces… it’s that they have the attention span of a dog who suddenly spots a squirrel. Unless of course they’re playing Wii or watching Curious George. Then you can talk to them all day long and they won’t even “hear” you. (Notice I put quotes around “hear”? Yeah, selective hearing is in full swing here, for sure.)
Ok, so now that we’ve established that we have focus issues in this house, I decided that another chart was in order. A bigger chart. Something that the boys will think is fun and keep them on track!
Foam board – $4 at Michaels
Velcro dots – $3 at Michaels
4×6 prints of each child – .32 at Walgreens
Markers and, if you’re cool like me and don’t have a ruler in the house, hot wheels tracks are great for making straight lines in a pinch. 😉
The boys do not get to move their face to the next square (which is held onto the chart using the velcro dots mentioned in the items needed list) until they have completed the task they are moving their face to. Here’s what we have on the chart:
#1 – I ate breakfast!
#2 – I am dressed! (This includes having socks and shoes on, because they were doing great with getting clothes on, but not so hot with getting socks and shoes on when it came time to leave)
#3 – My face is clean!
#4 – I have my coat and backpack! (This can mean either wearing them or they are on the couch, ready to grab.)
#5 – It’s 8:25 (or earlier, obviously) and I’m ready. Star!
#6 – Bonus: I made my bed! (This one is a star they can earn if they are ready for school and also have time to make their bed before it’s time to leave.)
So how well does it work? It seems to have improved things a bit. We used it last week and again today. So far we haven’t had all three hit the bonus star at the same time, but at least there’s been less stress, less yelling, fewer time outs and they’ve been on time for school more often. We actually don’t need to be loading up the van until about 8:35, so by setting the limit for 10 minutes earlier it gives us a chance to “help” those that aren’t ready yet (and by us helping, they do not get a star for being ready on time).
Bottom line: the boys get a kick out of moving their faces, and Nick and I aren’t as stressed in the morning. A simple “you have 10 minutes left” or “you have 5 minutes left” is enough to make them run to their chart to see what else needs to be done. We’ll keep it for now, and when it stops being effective we’ll try something else!