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A daily schedule is essential to our days. Everyone doing whatever desired whenever desired is a sure recipe for disaster. Behaviors will become less than desirable. The house can be a complete mess in mere minutes. I simply can't keep up with everyone and everything singlehandedly. In the end, we're actually not enjoying each other or our home without some direction.
I've long utilized a schedule and routines for our days. I have a copy taped to the side of our refrigerator (which tends to serve as a "command center"). However, I began to realize that I'm the only one able to follow it as I am the only one able to read! In order for a daily schedule to be effective, all individuals need to participate. For my children, that meant that I needed to offer them a version that was better suited for them.
I looked at various options online, but was not satisfied. I wanted a picture chart that was relevant to us and our day specifically. So, I decided to create my own!
I began by taking photos of each element in our day. (Yep, there's even an image of a potty. haha). I then formatted the photos by combining some, adding a caption space, and labeling each image with the task(s). I printed them at a nearby 1 hour photo service (they probably wondered why someone was having photos of a potty printed! haha). I ended up with ten images to show our mornings, five for the afternoons, and five for the evenings.
I used colored poster board cut down to fit around each part of our day. So, the morning is yellow, afternoon is blue, and evening is gray. This is a nice visual of the various parts of the day and the tasks therein.
Each photo is attached with photo corners. This allows me to insert new photos or move photos around when we might need to modify the schedule. For instance, in the summers I move our card for "outside playtime" to the earliest part of our morning so that we can better avoid the sweltering heat. In the winter, however, I will move that card to as late in the morning as possible to allow the temperatures to warm up a bit before going out. I believe schedules should create structure, but that structure be a little flexible.
The way I have our day organized allows me to easily move elements around as needed. I purposely created the two halves of our day to repeat. This helps us come to know exactly what comes next. For instance, a general flow includes: wake & get ready, eat & story, school time/ room time, cleaning time, outside time, wash hands & meal etc. I'm more focused on the order of events than I am the timing. With a baby, there are many times in the day in which I must stop to feed or get the little guy to sleep. We do what we need to do during those moments, and then pick up where we left off on our schedule.I've shared our current schedule in this post: "Daily Homemaking Schedule (3yr. old, 2 yr. old, 3 mo. old)"
Below each photo are two Velcro dots. Each child has a painted clothespin with Velcro on the back. As we go about our day we move the clips from one place to the next using the Velcro dots. This has been a wonderful way to keep up with where we are and involve them in us all moving along in the day.
So far, we are loving the new visual chart! The children enjoy looking at the photos and moving their clips. It's been a big motivator for staying on task (especially for Mama!). Whenever we encounter a struggle for what needs to be accomplished next, we can direct them to the chart and they will usually comply. I imagine to the young child it's a difference in being told what to do all the time and getting to see and have a part in what needs to be done.