Saturday, May 30, 2009

Procrastination In Children

My children have procrastination down to a fine science. It has gotten so bad that I finally decided I had to take drastic action! Yesterday morning I called a meeting with the kids after breakfast. I informed them that we were not going to start school work immediately, instead we were going to talk. I explained to the children that they have gotten very negligent in their chores and that schedules are not being kept and that we are all running ourselves ragged meeting deadlines unprepared.

I pulled out a paper and told the kids that they were going to help me figure out a way to make our schedule work for all of us. The first thing I wanted to address was our Thursday and Friday schedules. On those two days we do not have morning classes and the kids seem to treat those mornings as a Saturday morning. They want to sit around in their pajamas and take their good old time eating breakfast and getting ready for the day.

Somehow morning cartoons have once again crept into that morning time. So the new rule is now really an old rule revisited. No one is allowed to turn the TV on until after 4 pm. The children complained that they couldn't wake up and get started immediately on their work. So we brainstormed and this is what we came up with. They must be up by 8 am and be ready to start their school work by 9 am. Eight in the morning is still a late hour to them and they feel like they've gotten to sleep in. The other three days a week they have to be up by 7am so we can get to classes.

Between 8 and 9 the kids have to clean their rooms, get dressed and eat breakfast. We then made a list of things they could do if they finished early. With the kids help we put together this list: Reading, painting, clay, computer, typing, sewing, Lego's, tanagrams, trampoline, basketball.

To facilitate the other three mornings of the week the children now have to lay out all their stuff the night before. This involves more than you would initially think. On Sunday night they have to lay out the required uniform for their martial arts class, their clothes for school and Peter has to get his basketball uniform laid out. Tink has to make sure she has her violin and her book ready to go.

On Monday night they have to lay out the required clothes for the Christian Academy. That involves polo shirts and solid color pants and skirt for Tink. Because Tink has PE there she has to lay out her culottes.

On Tuesday night they lay out their martial arts clothes, their clothes they are going to wear for the day, and Peters basketball uniform again. Once again Tink has to make sure her violin and book are ready. Wednesday night they need to again prepare clothes for the Christian Academy. Vests and shirts for Awana along with their Awana books have to be gotten around and laid out on the table in their rooms. Besides the clothes they have to get the books around every night that they will need for Academy classes. Its a lot for kids to remember but it's totally imperative that this be done in order for our mornings to go more smoothly.

Mornings were becoming a rat race and I was tired of getting ready to leave only to discover that one or both of the kids couldn't find something. In trying to get more organized it became quickly apparent that I would need to purchase a few things to help this go more smoothly. I bought Tink a back pack so she could carry her books separately from Peters. I rounded up another white erase board and wrote the days classes on them and to which school we were going to be going to each day. Both kids already have their list of weekly assignments for their classes at home.

Chore lists were tackled in our breakfast meeting. The chore chart is working well but Tink thinks Peter needs more chores and Peter thinks he has way more than any other boy his age. In discussing this I discovered that Peter was feeling overwhelmed with his chores and school work. It's no wonder, poor boy. He's getting introduced to school at home and its a far cry from his days of boarding a bus and spending the entire day at a public school.

I realized Peter needed some help. So we discussed how to break his chores into smaller chunks. To prevent him from putting off his chores we are now setting a timer for each portion of the job. We also identified the hated parts of the chores. I discovered that he didn't mind bringing in the wood but he hated how dirty and cold his hands got. That's why he kept putting off the job. That was easily remedied by a pair of gloves. He didn't like putting his trucks on the shelves because they continually rolled off. Now Mr. Darling is going to put little tabs on the shelves so the trucks stay in place. Actually I know that frustration. I've had the same thing happen to me when I've tried to organize the trucks.

Peter said that when I sent him in to clean his room he didn't know where to start. My children's rooms are never messy as kids rooms go. Its usually just a few toys left out and his clothes from the day before thrown around. So we worked out a plan where he would gather all dirty clothes first, then move to trucks, then to any Legos, then on to straightening the toy shelves and lastly dusting his table and windowsills. His cleaning zone includes the upstairs family room so we broke that into small chunks too.

After we identified the hated parts I told the kids I would help them the first several times through. Tink doesn't seem to have any problems in this area. She loves cleaning and rarely complains when it comes time to clean her zone. Both kids told me they were frustrated with their Tae Kwon Do uniforms because they didn't know where to put them! They were right. I hadn't designated a spot for them.

Charting and planning are an essential part of every day. Organization is not an option. Its highly necessary to get through a day around here. The list of activities for morning time are on the white board by the computer. The days list of classes are on the white board in Tinks room. Beside the computer are papers for both kids; forms from Alliance Academy that need filled out for Technology. Every time the kids use technology for study they have to write it down; V for video, C for computer, I for Internet, A for Audio. The website of video or what ever they have used needs to be listed on the same line with the date and how much time was spent in the activity.

Tink fills out another sheet for every time she practices violin and for how long. They each record choir classes and any performances they have had that week.

Paper work is done for each child on their activities. Again there are abbreviations for the different sports and activities. P just simply means out door play time, T is trampoline, BB is basketball, V is volley ball, etc. There are about 10 different letters for all the activities. All these papers need filled out daily and handed to the ES once a month.

When I finally set down and figured all this out it dawned on me why I have been feeling like we are racing through our days unable to catch up! With a tight schedule we cant allow anything to slip through the cracks.

To come to this sort of organized day I had to ask myself a few questions. Why are the kids putting off what they are suppose to be doing? Why are they not prepared? What can we do to prepare in advance for each day? Do I need to implement a reward system? What will be the outcome if chores are not completed in a timely fashion? What happens if we get to a class and they don't have the right books or clothes for the class? What can I do to make things easier for the kids? Do they fully understand what their jobs are? Do they know how to do them?

I was amazed at how helpful the kids were in identifying the problem areas. They really got involved in the brain storming and in telling me how they felt about things. This morning I heard Tinks alarm go off. I was amazed when immediately afterward I heard her feet hit the floor. Within seconds she was in the shower and her day had begun. Peter was a little slower but much better than he had been the day before.

So now we'll see how this next week goes. Hopefully we all find a bit more sanity to our day! To help pinpoint the problem and to identify ways to change it I read the book, "The Procrastinating Child" by Rita Emmett. I found it at the library and Im about half way through it. I highly recommend it. It has been a life saver around here.

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