Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Morning Order Charts

I don't know about you, but I do NOT always enjoy mornings with my children. Lately, I've sacrificed a lot of sleep and have even moved my workout time (this is new) to 4:50 am at the gym so I can still come home and embrace the calm before the storm. As soon as I hear movement in the hallway upstairs, I tense. It starts with a race between my insomniac four year old daughter, who didn't actually FALL asleep until she played with every single toy in the room, and my two year old son who would probably sleep for two more hours but senses her arousal and rushes to keep up with her quick descent down the stairs. He greets me with a squinty plea for milk, she races to the iPad, and I head upstairs to wake my two oldest for school. The morning catches speed as I find every physical way possible to communicate to my daughters the need to hurry. it. along. I clap my hands really fast, I snap repetitively to accent each word, "GET (snap) YOUR (snap) SHOES (snap snap) ON (snap snap, snappity snap snap!). I have given up packing their lunches. I used to do the cutest things. I used to write notes on their napkins. Now I find myself shouting through the closing van door, "School lunch again!"

So thus, we have adopted and adapted and adjusted THE MORNING ORDER ROUTINE. I wouldn't live another day without it. It calms me. It grounds us, saves me from losing it (snap clap!), and creates HABITS that will some fine day kick in without my sing-songy (so I don't swear) reminders, over and over again, to please do this and that. I love morning order and keep reading, cause you will too.

The key is........start young.
 (I knew I had to write this post tonight or it wouldn't happen, so these pictures aren't pretty, but they'll do.)

The source of this Morning Order routine is Joy School, a taught-at-home preschool program for 3-5 year-olds that I've done with all of my kids. We teach thirteen "Joys," one of which is "Order and Goal Striving." This is where I first heard of Morning Order and several other tools that have helped us keep things cleaned up in our house.
 I actually taught the lesson on Morning Order TODAY and felt the need to share. The little pictures of their morning tasks are provided in the Joy School manual, which you purchase, but I'm sure you could find similar pictures online very easily. Usually we just have them paste the picture onto construction paper in the order THEY CHOOSE and they place a sticker next to the picture when they complete the task. This year, I wanted something that would last longer, but was still very simple to put together. I am NOT cutesy crafty when it comes to printing things off the internet.
 First, I printed the pictures for the kids and had them color them while we talked about each task. This is my four year old's, but she was way more interested in the snack than in coloring, so I finished them for her (in case you're impressed).
 All credit for this file folder idea goes to Amy at My Name is Snickerdoodle. Found it on Pinterest sometime around midnight last night. I cut off the top half of the file folder so you have the nice crease at the bottom and glued the pictures along that crease. Then I made the cuts in between the pictures so they each have a little "door" that can close when the task is done.
 I couldn't find double-sided velcro anywhere in my house, so I ended up cutting up a few Command Strips which work beautifully to make the doors stay closed. Then you get to write DONE! on the back.

I think it's very important to remember to let your child choose the order in which he does the tasks so he feels like he has choices, but I've found that once they understand what needs to be done, the order doesn't matter so much. We only needed the charts for a few weeks until they could remember well enough on their own what was to be done every morning to be ready for the day. My older girls have four tasks that must be completed each day for them to earn money. Morning Order is the #1 task. They still need prompts, but they know. (And that's the killer. You know they know.) 

Mornings can still have a rough start. But I love having a starting point to refer to. "Okay, time for Morning Order!" In our family, I help my school-aged kids complete their Morning Order, we eat breakfast together, then once they're off and I've recovered, I start again with the younger kids. I let them see me make my bed and put my pajamas away. It works well for us. Hope it helps you.

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