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School Morning Sanity Maintained

Last year we were spoiled (sort of) by an afternoon pre-k program. Having the entire morning to get the boys dressed, fed, and backpacks ready to go was a breeze most days. Moms have this ability to see into the future though, and when I glanced ahead this fall, I knew we’d have some hiccups with this all-day Kindergarten thing. After all, I’m not a morning person, and we’d now have to have all three boys out the door in the morning every weekday! Gah!

So what’s a mom to do? Why re-make and return an old friend of course!

Do you see how beat up Lily’s face looks?! Let that be a lesson to not print at your neighborhood pharmacy. Ick! I’m getting a re-print of her picture, pronto.

That’s right, the Getting Ready for School On Time chart has made a come-back! A version of this gem was used 18 months ago when the boys had morning preschool and it was becoming increasingly difficult to get them out the door without a fight, tears, or both.

The concept here is simple, and yet so effective! All you need is a piece of foam board, some velcro (strips to cut or dots), markers and cheap prints of your kids.

This year we combined it with earning of screen time tickets. So we’ve stopped handing out 8 tickets every Monday and letting them earn more as the week goes along, because honestly, they have very little time for screen time these days anyway.

The Run Down:

Dressed!

Food in belly!

Face & Teeth Clean!

Shoes & Coat On, Backpack Ready by 8:30am!

That’s it. IF they can move their face all the way to end by 8:30am then they earn a screen time ticket. We don’t have to leave for school until a bit later, but by setting the goal time for 8:30, we’ve still got a buffer in case someone’s having a rough morning. 8:30 hits and someone is still missing a shoe? No big deal – we’ve got time to help them look for it now. They just won’t earn their screen time ticket now.

You can see I even moved their screen time ticket envelopes onto the top of this getting ready chart, to keep things simple and in one spot. While Lily has been added to the chart, she’s not earning screen time yet – she just thinks it’s fun to move her face.:)

Now all this being said, you know what kids are good at? Throwing you a curve ball.

Just as you figure out something that “works”, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief because you caught a glimpse of sanity and order in your life, they throw you a curve ball. This curve ball came a whopping 10 days into the school year. I heard six dreaded words fly out of Ty’s mouth one morning….

“I don’t care about screen time.”

Dang it!

The three of them have figured out they pretty much only have time to give screen time tickets on the weekends now, and on a Monday morning the weekend seems mighty far away still. Time to find something they do care about and add another element to this here game plan of mine!

Phase two – Motivating with Marbles

Alright boys, I see your disinterest in screen time tickets, so I raise you a marble jar!

Now when they get to the end of the chart, they not only get a screen time ticket, but they also get to put a marble in the jar. And what happens when the four of them move all of the marbles from one jar into the other? We’ll take them out to eat!

There are 127 marbles to be moved, so with the 4 of them working together on it, we figure it’ll be 2-3 months before they complete it. Eating out every 2-3 months though is more often than they usually get to eat out, so they’re pretty excited at this prospect!

  • September 10, 2013 - 8:15 pm

    Elizabeth - We do a lot of timers at our house. Well, and we have tic tac chores, too. If the kids use the bathroom, brush their teeth, and make their beds, they earn 1-2 tic tacs. When it’s time to get dressed, we set the timer. Any kid not reporting downstairs before the timer beeps runs five laps on our stairs. And if they finish breakfast before the school bus comes at 8, they can have a few minutes of Wii or iPad before the bus. It’s amazing how fast they’ll run the routine when they want to! I guess we have a combo of positive and negative consequences for our mornings. Our kids are 5, 5, and almost 8.ReplyCancel

  • September 10, 2013 - 9:46 pm

    Leslie MIlnes - I love, love, love this idea, Helen! It was like you have been peering into our crazy mornings here and my loss to make things better:)! Totally stealing the concept!ReplyCancel

  • September 13, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    pop pop - I know they eat out at least that much because we come and SPOIL them ! Can’t wait to see you next month and take in a soccer game and eat out.ReplyCancel

  • October 2, 2013 - 12:49 pm

    cindy in San Antonio - Pretty concerned about the lack of posting. Hope everything is OK.ReplyCancel

Together Again… Sort Of

We’ve now had just over 3 weeks of kindergarten, which means three weeks of the boys being in different classrooms. You’ll remember being split-up was not our desire or plan for the boys, but things out of our control went down 2 days before the start of school, and they ended up in three different classes.  A lot of people have been asking me how things are going with that, and in general, they’re going well!

We’ve only had a handful of instances (so far) of one kid being bummed that his teacher isn’t doing something the same exact way the other two kindergarten teachers are. One of those times it caused tears and the claim that his teacher is only interested in giving out more homework. Bahaha! The irony there is that kid actually came home with less homework last week than his brothers!

The boys enjoy having recess together, and have become pro-active when it comes to sitting together at lunch. They quickly noticed that the lunch aids are always changing, and didn’t always know to ask them if they wanted to sit together, so Jackson, Ty & Chase started speaking up!

Ty is the one that verbalizes most often that he misses being with his brothers, but he’s doing well hanging in there.

The boys requested a “head stack” picture. I had no idea what they meant, until they put themselves in this formation. Cracked Nick and me up!

This post is about to get a bit braggy sounding, so if that’s not something you want to read, time to avert your eyes.;)

All three of them are doing really, really well academically! All of the kindergartners have completed base-line testing recently, and Jackson, Ty and Chase scored exceptionally well. So well that Chase’s teacher called me a week ago to discuss sending him to first grade for some reading time, and threw out the possibility of testing him for the gifted program (but that wouldn’t happen until closer to December).

On Friday morning I chatted on the phone with the School Improvement Specialist. She’s the one that administered the reading tests to the boys, and after telling me how wonderful and sweet my guys are, she told me they’re also very smart.

Jackson tested at a 2nd grade reading level, and a 3rd grade instructional level. She explained that basically means that he already knows 90% of the 2nd grade words, and would fit in with a 3rd grade reading class, because with a little help from her, he was able to sound out most of the words. Ty & Chase both tested at 1st grade reading levels and 2nd grade instructional levels. Smart cookies we’ve got here!

So the solution? The three of them are going to spend an hour each day in 1st grade for “enrichment”. The best part? They get to go to the same class, at the same time of day! YAY!!! She said, “I know you guys wanted them together and that didn’t happen, so would you be interested in them doing the 1st Grade enrichment together?”.

Friday afternoon I told the boys I’d talked to the school, heard how they did on their reading testing, and that all three of them were going to get to go to 1st Grade for an hour each day. They thought that was pretty cool. Then I told them which 1st Grade teacher they’d be with, and that made them excited (Jackson’s been to her class a few times already and liked her)! THEN, I told them they’d get to go at the same time and they went nuts!

So there we have it – the boys’ smarts + finally some understanding from the school folks = more time together for the boys at school!

  • September 8, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    Jessica - Yay, what awesome news!!!ReplyCancel

  • September 8, 2013 - 2:27 pm

    Carole Perkins - That’s great! I was disappointed when they were separated, so I’m really glad to hear this. I knew they would do exceptionally well!ReplyCancel

  • September 8, 2013 - 3:54 pm

    Helen - Thanks for celebrating with us, Jessica and Carole! :) ReplyCancel

  • September 12, 2013 - 6:14 am

    Susan - Haha! Your boys win and they used their brains to get what they wanted…time together!!!ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:08 am

    Johanna - I’m so glad your little guys are doing so well in their new arrangement. I am so sorry that they couldn’t be placed together. My state is on of 12 states with laws protecting the parents of multiples. We get to choose either way, and I chose (with the same research as you) to keep mine together for kinder this year.

    Maybe, if you are in a Mothers of Multiples group, you guys can lobby for Kansas to get some legislation too. (There are 12 other states in pending status for these laws, and Kansas isn’t one of them).ReplyCancel

  • October 1, 2013 - 9:10 am

    Johanna - Oops! Here is the website on the legislation:
    http://www.twinslaw.comReplyCancel

A Letter to 6 year old Jackson

Dear Jackson,

You have grown and matured so much in the last year, little man! While your skills at Mario Kart and Super Mario Brothers are stellar, we’re much more impressed by the way you lead, care for your other siblings, and how very smart you are.

You have such a caring spirit, and I love the way you willingly help Lily with things. I know Lily loves when you help her too! You’re also totally embodying those “oldest child” traits, which is funny to us considering you’re only the oldest by one minute. You take charge, your brothers, sister and other children will often follow your lead, and you’ve got that nice oldest child streak of stubbornness in you. Even your teacher has noticed your great leadership and role-model abilities, which makes your dad and me so proud!

Keep being that great example and role-model, and we’ll try to help you nurture that caring spirit you have. You’re a wonderful little boy, Jackson and we love you so much!

Love,

Mommy

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