Training Little Ones to Keep a Schedule | Organizing Made Fun: Training Little Ones to Keep a Schedule

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Training Little Ones to Keep a Schedule

Training Little Ones to Keep a Schedule

If you have been reading OMF for long you know one of Becky's top organizing tips is to keep a schedule!  Whether its her own weekly cleaning routine, or her kids Schedule, she keeps much of her home and family running by being consistent about her schedules.  In this post I will share a few ideas for how to train your preschooler to be more independent in keeping their daily schedule.  

It is fairly easy to write a schedule for ourselves, but teaching a little one to keep a schedule is another story all together.  I want to encourage you that it is worth the time and effort you put into it, and your kids will be better off when they hit school age and beyond because you took the time to teach them self control over their day and time when they were young.  

If you would like to see some of Becky's best posts about schedules you can find them all here.

In order to get ready for the day in our  home I desire to have my children know how to choose the proper clothes, get dressed, deal with the clothes they just took off properly, make their bed, and brush their hair and teeth.  I also expect the older kids to do a couple of morning chores like feeding the pets and picking up their room.  I want my children to do these things on time and independently from my constant scolding cajoling and stressing.  

As any parent of a three year old knows, we've got a long way to go to reach that goal. Here are a few tips.

1. Visual Chore charts or cards.  I have 1 pack of cards for the morning and 1 for the evening. Each pack of cards has 1 card per task.   She looks at the task card completes the task and places the card on my place at the table before she moves to the next card. When she has completed the whole pack of cards she tells me and I check to be sure its completed properly. My 3 year old doesn't read but she can tell by the pictures what I want her to do.  Make sure your card or chart is as visual as possible.  I purposely didn't make these cards on the computer because I wanted to encourage you that you can make it very simple for yourself and it still gets the job done! 

2. Reward a job well done:

Children learn when they are rewarded generously for a job well done.  When potty training I used sweet drinks and her favorite snacks as a reward.  Well now she loves her TV shows.  I made these funny looking TV Bucks.  Each "buck" earns her 15 minutes of TV time.  When she complete's her morning routine and I check it, then I "pay" her for a job well done with TV time.  If she rebelliously refuses to do part of her chores or has other behavior issues then she may loose some TV time as well.  

Please note:  I don't believe in "paying" children to do simple daily chores that are a part of getting ready or being part of the family.  My older children do all these things (and more) without pay.  When children are very young and learning to do the steps of a routine independently is when I use this reward system.  My child does not still get a sip of orange soda every time she uses the potty and there will be a day when she does these daily things automatically that she will not need these rewards. 

3. Make it easy for them to complete the tasks you give them.   If they have the task to "get dressed" but they can't reach their clothes or don't know what to choose then you need to find a way to make it accessible for them.   I have a fabric closet organizer where I place 5 complete outfits each week.  My daughter just needs to choose 1 outfit from the organizer and put it on. (for some children 5 is still too many choices and you might just give them 2) This gives her a limited choice so she feels independent, but I've been careful not to choose shorts and a tank top for a week of rain and cold weather ahead of time so we have much less discussions about her outfit of the day this way.  

4. Teach them step by step how to do the task the "right way."  If you want them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper then teach them that their task is not done unless all the clothes are in the hamper even that last little sock.  If you want them to learn to put the stuffed animals back on their bed after they make it then make sure you show them exactly what you expect.  Don't pay them till its done right. 

5.  Be patient!  This takes time and repetition and you will need to show them many times before they will be fully automatic.  Encourage them with a positive tone of voice and cheer them as they go.  They are simply not going get their bed made without lumps at the age of 3.  I show my daughter how and I help her with tricks for how to get the covers pulled up all the way, but as long as she smoothed the covers up and put all the pillows and animals on the bed in an age appropriate way then we are good!  She will grow in her skill as she grows physically so be patient and encouraging! Resist the temptation to fix it after they've done it.  They are proud of the job they have done and should have the reward of enjoying it! 

6. Resist the temptation to hover.  Once you've shown them how, then give them space and occupy yourself with your own work for the day.  Let them struggle a bit. Of course you should help  if they are having trouble or redirect them if they have gotten distracted and started playing instead of cleaning up their toys.  No one likes to be micromanaged, and if your goal is independence then your hovering and nagging will get in the way of that goal.  Carefully choose when to intervene and not! 

I love the Cozi App for keeping my schedule organized! 

You can see what everyone in your whole family is up to in a beautiful color coded calendar plus you'll never forget that grocery list again because its on your phone! 


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