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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Parenting Suddenly Seems Simplified

I often get discouraged and overwhelmed at the thought of parenting, which isn't a good thing when you have four kids to parent. Ha. But there's just so much to teach them, so much to train them in, so many character traits to encourage them in, so many wrong behaviors to attempt to get them to give up.... where do you start? What's important right now for each kid? How do I keep my focus on training instead of getting frustrated when they're not perfect?

Melissa pointed me to the AlchemyJunk blog when I was searching for a goal tracker. While it was not the tracker I was looking for, I did find this amazing "Independence List". While I adjusted my list for my kids a lot and did not really use her list, I did absolutely LOVE the concept. Writing out my goals for my kids this year is helping so much.

I now look at my day as a day to help my kids take one more step in the direction of adult independence. Their own list gives me several things to focus on right now at their current age that will help them take steps toward becoming a responsibile and loving adult.

Here's what I put on each of my kids' lists for 2011 (no particular order):

Cherith, age 5 & 6
  • Learn to read smoothly
  • Spell name without asking "what's comes next?"
  • Brush teeth well 2x's a day
  • Learn to vacuum
  • Visualize groups of toys during pick up time
  • Set table
  • Clear the table after a meal
  • Speak respectfully to parents & other adults
  • Think of others first
  • Brush hair everyday
  • Know Mom & Dad's phone numbers
  • Rinse dishes
  • Put away own laundry
  • Fold towels & washclothes
  • Get dressed, brush teeth & hair without being told

Daryn, age 4
  • Dress self all the time (knows how... he just likes help)
  • Keep pants dry everyday (he doesn't always like to stop playing)
  • Learn to brush teeth well
  • Pick up set of toys when done playing
  • Control anger
  • Say the entire alphabet
  • Count to 20
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Maintain kitchen & dining floors
  • Fold towels & washclothes
  • Sleep in underwear

Ethan, age 2
  • Stop, Look, & Listen*
  • Stay in bed at night
  • Pick up toys when done playing
  • Keep to a meal/snack schedule (vs. snack all day)
  • Drink water cheerfully
*We have a family rule that when you hear your name, you:
1. stop what you are doing and fold your hands
2. look at the person speaking to you
3. and listen to what they're saying

These lists have helped me see which chores I need to delegate to them. That way their chores are not only what they're capable of, but also correlate with my goals for their "adult training". If you're participating in OYOL and have kids, you might find this helpful as well. Or maybe it's just that I love worksheets. Ha ha.


  1. I love this idea! I too have so many things in my head regarding behaviour they need to learn/change, skills to develop and more for each of my kids now and in the future that it all gets jumbled and none of it gets addressed.

    I am going to work on my list this weekend and get back here to share next week.

  2. So I have a developmental benchmarks worksheet that I put together a few years ago for a parenting group - I took it from a resource that I still had from college. Unfortunately the only way I know how to give it to you is through e-mail. Let me know if you are interested in it and/or sharing it. It starts at age two and goes through age six and includes fine motor, gross motor, emotional/social and intellectual skills.

  3. Okay I did my lists - well I started with yours and them modified - but I'm pretty happy with them.

    K, age 5 & 6
    •Stop, Look, & Listen*
    •Continue with reading and math activities
    •Write all numbers/letters correctly
    •Spell first and last name confidently
    •Know Mom & Dad's phone numbers
    •Brush teeth well 2x's a day
    •Learn to vacuum and sweep
    •Make toy pickup before the next activity a habit
    •Clear the table after a meal
    •Speak respectfully to parents & other adults
    •Rinse dishes
    •Put away own laundry
    •Fold her laundry well and towels/cloths
    •Pick out clothes for the next day before bed
    •Unpack lunch bag after school

    D, age 2 & 3
    •Stop, Look, & Listen*
    •Dress self
    •Make toy pickup before the next activity a habit
    •Speak respectfully to parents & other adults
    •Remember to share and take turns
    •Recognize the letters of the alphabet and start to learn their sounds
    •Count to 20
    •Spell first name
    •Fold towels & washcloths
    •Pick out clothes for the next day before bed
    •Clear own dishes from the table after a meal

    W, age 1 & 2
    •Stop, Look, & Listen*
    •Remember to share and take turns
    •Make toy pickup before the next activity a habit
    •Learn shapes and colours
    •Put outerwear away when coming inside

    * when you hear your name, you:
    1. stop what you are doing and fold your hands
    2. look at the person speaking to you
    3. and listen to what they're saying

  4. Love it. Do you sit down with each child and "teach" them or do they learn their letters, etc. through play?

  5. I have to start with the fact that I am not a homeschooler. I currently work full time & my oldest is in senior kindergarten at a public school. I do however feel that as her Mom it is up to me to ensure that her education an excellent one. I read all I can about homeschooling and support formal school time with home activities. Teachers can only do so much on their own and I am in regular contact so that we are all on the same page.

    I generally have taught shapes, colours and letters through play.

    My oldest loved sorting so I would gather objects from the house in different shapes (blocks, cookie cutters, buttons etc) and we would sort them, stack them then knock them down and do it again. She loved the Melissa & Dough shape puzzle. We would look for shapes on signs and outside too.

    I took a similar approach with colours starting with sorting paint chips (free!). I started with a bunch of one shade of each of the primary colours, then secondary then moved on to different shades. We had puzzles and books that she liked to find colours in and ofcourse she loves to colour pictures. One of our games is to see who can find the most objects in a certain colour in the room in one minute.

    Letters were pretty much the same with letter magnets, letter puzzle, I would do ‘find the letter’ games on a chalkboard (write/draw a lot of stuff then she had to find the hidden As). I started with three letters and worked up from there ie A, B and C then when she knew those add D, E and F etc. She also shook my travel boggle game and look for a specific letter. Now we do that and she looks for two or three letter words (with my help).

    With writing we started with simple maze books (I really liked the Kumon first book of mazes – I found it second hand in new condition and we used pencil so we could reuse the book with her brothers). We never sat for more than 5 minutes – I always left her wanting more so she would be excited the next time. Then we practiced straight and curved lines before actual letters.

    Numbers came mostly from a favourite book and remembering to count things often in our daily activities.

    The biggest part was making sure that I used the words regularly. “Let’s get your pink socks” “Can you pass me that square block?” “I see two blue cars over there.”

    My two youngest are only 11 months apart so I haven’t done all of this with my second (didn't have the time/energy!)but he seems to have figured out most colours and shapes and a bit of counting. I will be a bit more intentional over the next year with letters. He has a very different personality so I may have to think of some new games…

    I teach them how to spell their names by making up a cheer for each of them to sing.

    This seems to have gotten very long so I will stop here!

  6. As an aside - my 2yo just started wearing underwear and decided that he now needs to stand to pee. I have had to add wiping down the toilet to my daily minimum cleaning list:)