When we got back from Israel I was feeling a bit out of sorts, and also a bit stressed. For a week or two I couldn’t work out what it was, and then I realised – we didn’t have much purpose or direction in what we were doing at home. The activities I’d been expecting to come back to were all on holidays, and the things we were doing at home weren’t fitting in with the age of the boys, as they both seemed to grow up heaps while we were away, and then have secondary growth spurts (physically, but mostly mentally) as we returned.
It hit me that Lior is now 3 ½, and if he were born in a different time of year, he could well be starting Kindy at this age, but because he is a January baby, he will turn 4 just before he starts Kindy properly. I put my teacher hat on and started to look at ways I could create a Kindy learning environment at home, after all, even when he goes to Kindy* he will still be with me 5 days a fortnight, and we’ll still need to occupy our days when he’s at home.
We had two problems at home – the first was that Lior was always asking “What can I do?” and that was making me stressed, because I wasn’t organised, so I really didn’t know WHAT he could do. And the second was that there were lots of complaints when I needed time to do my own work and chores, and they couldn’t see the bigger picture, or understand that they would have their own time later. Enter the “Today Is” chart.
So I looked online at example kindy classrooms, and I’m making a bit of a plan for things we can do, but the first thing I took to doing was this “Today Is” chart. It encompasses a range of concepts which Lior can start to be familiar with – things like the weather, seasons (he doesn’t believe it’s Winter because it’s not snowing – thanks Frozen :-/ ), the days of the week, and chores.
How it works
At our station we have three boards – one “Today Is” board where all the information about today goes, the second board holds all the cards that aren’t being used on this particular day (other weather events, days of the week etc.), and the third is the chore chart.
Together Lior and I look at the pieces on the big board, and decide what we need for today, then we move them to their place on the “Today is” board. Some of them I do myself (like the date and day), and others he can choose completely independently (like the weather). We talk about each of them as we do them, and he will learn to do them all by himself eventually.
On the big board there is a pocket which has all the different activities we might possibly do inside it, and I choose out a few that I know we have to do, and he can choose some others based on his preference (“Would you like to do building or making today?”).
On the Today Is board there is also 20 squares with numbers inside them. This is his sticker chart. He gets stickers for saying “yes mum” when I ask him to do something, having a good attitude, and anything else I think he should get one for. We talk about what the prize will be at the end (most recently he got a Thomas the Tank Engine, but it could be non-toy items like a special ice-cream, or a trip somewhere that he likes).
I’m totally surprised that Lior is loves the chart as much as he does. He asks every morning, “what are we doing today?” and when I start telling him he says, “no, on the board!”, so we have to go to the board and do the whole process.
3 Year Old Chore Chart
We also have the chore chart. I am still amazed at how well this works. Before when I asked Lior to do anything chore-like he would always say no. Now, he looks forward to doing each of the activities. There is no set reward for doing them, though sometimes when he needs an incentive we talk about how if he gets all of them done today he can get a sticker.
The chores I chose for him were really simple:
- Get dressed
- Make your bed
- Feed Pepper (our dog)
- Set the table
- Pick up your toys
- Brush teeth
I chose these activities because they’re easy for him to do (or at least attempt), but also some are ones he doesn’t currently do – like feeding the dog, and setting the table. All need a certain degree of parental help, which is totally fine!
Ideally I would have liked to take photos of him doing the different activities, but that can be an amendment down the track – for now I’m keen to get it happening, so I just found pictures online which I could print out, and attach to card with the labels. Labelling the chores as well as having the picture is important as Lior is all about letters and words at the moment, and he loves to ask me to read things, and sound out the letters in the words.
So that’s our set up at the moment! While I was making it I filmed the process, so I can show you how I made it in a follow up blog post soon.
* Perhaps this is worthy of a different blog post, so I’ll just say it briefly here – we plan to homeschool our children, at least for Prep and Year 1, as I don’t like the current QLD curriculum for these early years. I DO like the Kindy “curriculum”, as long as we find the right kindy. There are quite a few other factors, but I’ll talk about those another time!