Pretty tight schedule around here on weekday mornings. I get up at 4am and work on the computer as that is the only time that my brain function and peace and quiet coordinate around here. My first childcare kid comes in about 5:30. Thankfully my early childcare kids are content to watch TV in the morning, because at 5:50 I go in and kiss my li’l Rosebug awake, and then its “full speed ahead”! I brush and braid her long hair in the shower, and then she gets dressed, makes her bed and cleans her room. If she is all ready by 6:40, then she gets to help me by setting the table, pouring milk for all the kids and setting up toothbrushes while I make breakfast for the masses. It’s a pretty nice time for her and I to work together. She has learned all the pertinent “rules” about which kid sits where, which kid is coming on which day, which kid is allergic to milk and so gets almond milk. She has learned that when she sets out toothbrushes that the number of toothbrushes needs to match the number of places set, or she has made a mistake and needs to figure out where. I commend her highly when she sets the table correctly, because, really, it is a little more complex than the average table setting, and it really does impress me. And my genuine praise makes her feel like a helpful part of the morning, which she really is.
At 7 years old she really doesn’t know how to tell time yet, but TIME is a critical thing around here in the morning. If she is to be able to help me, she needs to be fully ready by 6:40. Otherwise we are tripping over each other in the kitchen. However, she doesn’t like to be nagged (anymore than anyone else does) and I don’t like to nag (much). Nagging is too personal, too unpleasant, too annoying. I learned a long time ago that if you can direct their attention to something else, like a timer or a clock, then the kids don’t focus so much on getting a rise out of you. Its between them and the clock. It takes some of weight off my “bad guy” shoulders. All I have to do is enforce the consequences if she isn’t ready on time. (If she doesn’t get ready in time to help me then she doesn’t get to watch TV in the morning, which is a fate worse than death in her mind!)
This weekend we bought her a cheap wall clock for her room ($3.88 at Walmart!). I hung it up and then just below it I put a chart that I made for her:
I guess it’s pretty self explanatory. These are just some of the times on our daily schedule that are important to her. I am hoping that this chart will make her feel a little bit more empowered, because she won’t have to keep asking me “how long until…?” (not to mention that, hopefully, I won’t have to hear it as much!) and maybe, if I am really lucky, she will start to get a grasp on “How long is 5 minutes?”, and maybe, just maybe, this will help her start to tell time.
I laminated this chart, and, as an added bonus, on the flip side I added a blank clock so I can use a write on wipe off marker to add in special events. Like when we were going to church yesterday, and I told her we were leaving at 10:30, she was driving me nuts just standing there watching the digital clock for over an hour. The disadvantage of a digital clock over an analog clock is that if you don’t know enough math to know that the number of minutes between 9:40 and 10:30 is 50 minutes, then you have no idea how LONG you are going to be watching those little blue numbers change. I am hoping that by teaching her how to tell time on an analog clock, she will also start to learn how LONG an hour is, as opposed to 5 minutes. So I made a plain clock face on the flip side, and the next time she is “waiting” for something, I will draw the clock hands on the laminated chart and label it and she can hang it back up on her wall and watch the clock in her room if she wants to. I put sticky Velcro on both sides of the chart and and on the wall so she can flip it as needed.
I have also put a new wall clock in our office near her homeschool desk so, once school starts and I figure out what our schedule will be, I can make her a similar chart for school times in our office.