Saturday, September 14, 2013

Checklists and Chore Charts: A Show & Tell

This is my tenth year of homeschooling. I have used "checklists" to help my children learn to self-motivate and work independently, and by the time my oldest reach their teen years, they are able to create their own lists and plan their own work.

This year I found a new "checklist system," completely accidentally and on a whim, that is more effective than anything I have ever done. Really, you've got to see it. Not only is it effective, but it's adorable. And that's a lot, coming from me.

I'm going to show you the old way first.

For at least six years, with what I thought was quite great success (until surpassed by my new method), we used a weekly checklist system that looked like this (PLEASE forgive that they are photographs... I am literally too lazy to go into my husband's office and use the scanner.) This is a weekly checklist. I printed fresh ones for each child every Monday morning, and they filled them in with markers or stickers. I made little changes as we went along as books or chores changed. We did this system for six years in a row.

Aram's checklist last year, when he was 7.

Breton's 2 years ago, when she was 12.

Breton's last year, age 13, transitioning into planning her work independently.

Elon at age 4

Oli's at Age 2-3

The kids kept their checklist under their desk protector, taped to the wall, or in the front of a binder. We always knew we had a good week when, by Friday, the checklist was dog-eared, doodled, covered with math computations and spelling words, and full of stickers and checkmarks! I had a photo of one of these completed, well-worn checklists once... but I was unsuccessful locating it! Sorry.

Now... out with the old, in with the new.  I saw this idea in the September Issue of Family Fun magazine. I tried to find an online link, but was unsuccessful. But it was on page 68 of the September 2013 Issue.  I'll include simple instructions as photo captions, but all you need for supplies are file folders and a roll of magnetic tape ($4.79 at Walmart), and I even found the 6-packs of fancy file folders for $1.00 each:

First, I cut the file folders down so the backs were 5 inches tall and the fronts were four inches tall.

I divided the front into six equal sections, and cut them into "flaps" up to the fold line of the folder.

Print & glue or write the chore or schoolwork on the inside of the flap. Cut a piece of magnetic tape and place so as to close the flaps--they will "snap" shut with quite a satisfying little sound! For Aram's, you can seea I put Science, Health, Geography, Social Studies on one flap. That is because we do a different one each day. For example, we only do Science one day a week, but we do the whole chapter that day, or at least half a chapter (10 chapters in his textbook).

You can see I made two for each boy: One for schoolwork, one for chores.  Notice Oli's first chore:  "Weapons." Ha! That means he's responsible putting away the bin of light sabers, swords, laser guns, cap guns, toy handcuffs, etc.

On the outside of each flap, put "done" or a check mark.

As each task is completed, just snap the flap shut!

My daughter only has one for chores, but I LOVE the pictures she found! I'm posting below her HS checklist system.

Halfway done!

Why is this system working better? Because it's not labled "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday."  They just reset it each day... and they don't think about what day it is. They just "go."  So, for example, instead of four full days of school last week, they did six, because they just got into the groove of using their flaps each day.  And in general, they're in the habit of doing at least one or two pages extra of SOMETHING each day.  My goodness... we could be done with school by Christmas!  Not.  But still... this has just been fantastic!

I have a couple of modifications I'm going to make to make these a bit more accurate now that we're getting into our school "groove," but no hurry. It's a fun project to do...and if you know me at all, that's saying a lot.  I am NOT a crafty person... don't even think about asking me to scrapbook!

My 4yo and 8yo started piano lessons this week, and my 5yo started gymnastics. Today, I'm going to make one more checklist for their daily piano and gymnastics practice--just 3 flaps.

I'm going to mail a care package to a friend (haha--I first typed "fiend") so she can make some, too.

My daughter, 14, as you saw above, has one of these flap-lists for chores.  But now that she is a "Freshman" in high school (somebody smack me!), we came up with this system that motivates her.

At the beginning of last year, since I knew she would be finishing some of her 8th grade subjects and starting her HS work, I came up with this long-range plan for her HS subjects (for us, that means lots of college credits, too, at the same time), to give her a "vision" and some motivation.

Then I came up with this "Full Year" checklist system for her... because she is a global thinker and LOVES seeing the big picture.  This one (above and just below), is what she is currently working on. As she completes a subject, we will remove it from the list and replace it with the next. Depending on the curriculm, we make checkboxes per chapter, page, topic, or assignment.  Love her rainbow checks! My creative, girly-girl. My ONLY girl.

She has a beautiful daily planner on which, after prayer and meditation, she plans each day's schoolwork, and writes her list for that day.  I provide my older kids with these nice "blank" format planners that allow them to let God lead their daily planning. Each day should or could look different!
Sometimes, if she is nearly done with a subject, she will do all one subject for one day.  Sometimes, like you see this week, she works fairly evenly on several subjects. Notice how right now she's doing a 30-day drawing challenge of animals?  She came up with that one on her own... but I'm loving her sketches in her art journal!

I hope to have passed on a little inspiration!  I love homeschool show and tell.  You may have noticed I have not yet posted our 2013-2014 curriculum list. Don't think you have been spared. I won't be able to resist, as always.


  1. Ok, you've officially crushed me! You - who has been sick, pregnant, more kiddos than me, cooks every night, etc. also has time to make charts and check lists and plans through college?

    Ugggg. I need a secretary!

    As bad as it sounds - I really am inspired! But I need to work, for sure!

  2. Haha! You've got it wrong! I have so much time when I need to SIT, that it's not hard to do these things on the computer. If I posted a picture of MY flowerbeds, you'd realize we're at least on even ground! I still can't garden or do much of anything active! And your home decorating leaves me in the dust. I don't decorate at all. My home looks Amish.

    I'll be your secretary. Send me your notes and I'll type them up. :-)