Monday, August 18, 2008

Responsibilities

I've been giving a lot of thought over the summer as to how I can help cultivate a sense of responsibility and accountability within my children. I considered a simple chore chart, but couldn't really find one that I liked. I saw mention in several places of the PEGS System and was quite intrigued by the concept, but it was priced well beyond our budget and I just couldn't justify the expense. I planned to confiscate the dry erase board from Dylan's room to use as a sort of family planner, but it didn't really suit my purposes, either. I finally found a cute chart available from One Step Ahead, but to have one for each of the three older children would have cost more than I was willing to spend, too. Then, a few nights ago, I made one last stop in the kitchen for a drink of water before bed and was struck by the realization that a large and very convenient solution lay right before my eyes...the refrigerator! Here's a peek now at the end result, with which I have to say that I am very well pleased, but I also want to share the specifics of exactly what I love so much about our new system.

Isn't it beautiful? :) I just love how bright and colorful it is, and as you can see, it dominates the entire side of our refrigerator! It's perfect. Perhaps the best part of all is that it utilized supplies that we already had in our craft cabinet! I'm so glad now that I keep a well stocked stash of card stock and foam, and that I still had so many self adhesive laminating sheets and magnets left over from last year!

Basically, I just divided the entire surface into a giant grid with colored tape, then made magnets (each about the size of a business card) that name a specific duty. This way they are interchangeable and the children can have rotating tasks as appropriate for their age. As each task is completed, they are marked off with smaller magnets that I made by simply adhering small strips of magnet to the backs of foam stickers which we also have in abundance.

Here is a closer look at the top half of our chart. I chose to call it a "Responsibility Chart" instead of a chore chart because, in addition to helpful tasks, this system also includes certain behaviors that Darren and I feel deserve extra attention. We're trying to emphasize to our children that they are responsible for the way they behave, and that they can choose to make good, charitable decisions over impulsive, mean, disrespectful, or selfish ones.

Each child has their own name magnet and a unique day of the week lineup, beneath which they add individualized place markers as they complete their duties. Darren and I help them decide at the end of the day whether they've earned a marker for their behavior expectations.


We'll have a goal each week for the total number of marked boxes we'd like to see by the end of the week. It won't demand perfection, but will allow for a few slips. My hope is that in having a combined goal to work towards, the children will encourage and help one another to fulfill each of their tasks. A new privilege will be revealed each week, something fun or special that they will have earned if they meet their goal. I could have just as easily called this a "reward", but I wanted to be clear with the children that we are not rewarding good behavior; rather, good behavior is our constant expectation and special activities or treats are a privilege, not an entitlement. Darren and I are brainstorming fun, inexpensive ideas to use here: a picnic in the park, for instance, or a trip to the free museum...and I'm totally open to any suggestions here!


Clearly we're still very much in the early stages with this system (we began midweek, which explains why these photos, taken last night, suggest only half-filled weeks.) But so far, I have to say I am loving how it is working. And I am so proud of how seriously the children are taking their responsibilities! I really hate having to nag them all the time about the same struggles, day after day after day...hopefully, this will help eliminate those battles!

11 comments:

Blair said...

I love it, Melissa!

Frances said...

That is a fabulous system - and pretty, too! I especially appreciate your vocab choice (responsibility and goal). I hope the new privileges you decide on each time (with the help of the kids, I'm sure) maintain that high level of enthusiasm!

Melissa said...

I am so happy that you figured out your chart. You had mentioned to me awhile back you were in the process. I don't have a fridge area like yours, but I feel I will be creating a "responsibility chart" like yours as soon as the kids are old enough. I really like the goals/reward system a lot!

If anyone needs an idea for a weekly chart, check out my family blog! (very bottom of the site) It's a similar concept using a magnetic dry erease board and business card magnets.

Madison said...

Wow...I'm very impressed!!!
We do this, only on a smaller scale. Mine is on a small board in our play/school room. I have a prize box that I reward them from!!

mom-in-training said...

Melissa, this is fantastic!!! I've been wanting to do something like this as well. I made a chart awhile back, but never used it. It wasn't nearly as flexible. I may have to try your system instead. :)

Lillian said...

WOW! Impressive!!

MomDaBomb said...

nice work! i do have to ask you....if it was in my house...it would surely get knocked down, pulled at, removed etc...
so, how do you keep the little hands off of it?
thanks for the inspiration!
God bless.

Andrea said...

Wow - I love it!! What a great idea.

Jen said...

You are the most organized and creative woman I know, Melissa. How do you do it? I bought the PEGS system after much debating, and I think it's going to work well for us...I hope. After spending the money on it. :-) I'd be curious to see how the kids are doing with your new system. Email me because I don't have your email address and it's not available on your profile anywhere (maybe I'm just missing it??). I need your help in designing my new blog! Ack!

Cheryl said...

Your chart looks great! I hope it works well for you.

Michelle said...

Excellent idea. I hope it works well for you all.
Michelle