Wednesday, June 07, 2006

WFMW: Preschool "Time" Helper

Based on last week’s comments (record high volume!), I take it that there is indeed a market here in the blog world for helps on dealing with preschoolers.

So I’m back this week with another tip for those of you with the under-five crowd.

When our oldest was about three, she became obsessed with TIME. She would literally roll out of bed and say, “What’s the plan, Mommy?”

By the time she was four, she spent the rest of her day rephrasing the question (as only a four-year-old can do) in machine-gun fashion:

“When are we going to take a walk?”
“When can I have a friend over?”
“Can I watch a movie now?”
“When can I have a snack?”

She always had such high hopes for her grandiose plans, and I felt like I was always telling her “No.”

So I made her a little routine (schedule) for the day.

(The word "schedule" sounds so inflexible - this is NOT!)

No, I didn’t put in actual times (I could never be that disciplined!). But it VERY SIMPLY gave the general “flow” of our day, using the natural stops and starts like meals and snacks as the backbone.

So when she asked, “What’s next?” I could tell her to check her chart. It starts out with morning “jobs” (see last week’s post) and then gives a few basic divisions to her day. It ends with evening jobs (can you tell I love 4X6 cards?).

Having a written schedule for her helped me on THREE fronts:

1. It was the beginning of a nice routine, which is good for both preschoolers and their mommies.

2. It was a way for me to say "yes" to her and direct her day in a positive manner.

3. This child was quite strong-willed (she knows I’m writing this and says, “Mom, I think the way you used to describe me was, ‘She was a spitfire!’”). She could be quite convincing when she wanted to do something, even if it meant I would have to change my plans. Having the day thought through like this helped give me the resolve I needed to withstand her barrage of "suggestions," and stay in charge of the day. She learned to follow it, which really meant she learned to obey my word. A very good thing.

My other children have not been quite so time-obsessed, but it has helped them, too. I’ve never updated it (note there are only two kids, not five, attacking Dad on the “Play with Daddy” line), but I still have the chart hanging for my current preschoolers (next to their "jobs" chart).

When they are caught loitering at any time during the day, I can send them to see what’s next on the chart. It gives a bit of structure to their day, and it helps them to be self-motivated (preschoolers are such concrete thinkers, be prepared to have them insist on following it to a T!).

It also helps me remember to take time out to read or have a snack with them (sad, they have to remind me!).

Check out Shannon's and all the rest of the tips at Rocks in My Dryer!

And by the way, in case you’re wondering, our oldest (now 12) is becoming an excellent time-manager, and will some day be a great mommy.

Next week I'll try to pull together my best potty-training tips.

Preschool Activities, Chores for Children, Parenting


Carol said...

With one 12 and one 9, I found they just do better if they have some flexible structure to their day. It's like time isn't so...BIG to them anymore and gives them a way to mark and measure it.

Great tip!

Susanne said...

Great tip for those kids who just have to know their whole day!

Kari said...

what a great idea! My girls are 2 & 1 but I can see doing this in my near future! Im looking forward to some good potty training tips too!

Beck said...

That is a really great idea - it would have worked really well with my oldest daughter (she's 7 now)... I found that Blogger was loading my pictures very slooowly today, too - but it did load eventually. I resized my pic and that seemed to help.

Nettie said...

Do you think the WFMW is crippling blogger? I like this idea. I'm wondering if I should make one for myself!

Millie said...

I have one of those "need-to-knowers" also. What a great idea, particularly with summer coming!

Amy said...

Wonderful tip! I have a four year old who constantly says, "What's next?" Thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

Great idea with the index cards... I have a 7 year old who does
Starts out the moment she wakes up
"What are we doing today"....and continues on from there until I'm nearly ready to yank my hair out.
I'm gonna do this one!

Laurie said...

I no longer have any in the five and under crowd. But that is an adorable idea for those that do. My youngest, eight, loves to make her own lists for the day and mark them off as we go along.

TheNormalMiddle said...

I like it, I really do!! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my!! I am so loving this idea. I have an almost two year old, so I may have to change it up a bit!!!

I am on the edge of my seat for the potty training tips!!!!

Diane Viere said...

What a great idea! I can see that this could be adjusted just a little...and would work for the frantic teen aged boy in my house...who is always asking if he can do this and do that......which never involves his homework, his chores, or just spending time with his mom--who misses him!

Great idea!


Glass Half Full said...

GREAT - I bet its a great way to help children recognize words!

Gina Conroy said...

I've mapped out our summer schedule but haven't posted it anywhere in the house, yet. Thanks for this great visual!

Gina said...

Great post, great idea! Looking forward to next week's tips!

Susanne said...

Hi! You've been tagged for Thursday! Come on over & get the questions and have fun if you haven't done it already.

Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) said...

that is so helpful!! wonderful. I went and read yours from last week too. I think I might borrow those chart ideas.

Laura said...

This is a great idea - I like the idea of being structured with flexibility. Little Lou is only 18 months old, but pretty soon here, even a picture type schedule would be great for her! Thank you!

Kari said...

Howdy, neighbor! (I'm a Texas neighbor as well newbie Blogger!) I was co-tagged with you by Susanne! Can't wait to get to know you better by reading your meme as well as linking to your log! Blessings to you and your beautiful family.

Code Yellow Mom said...

Yay! I can make a comment! Thanks, blogger. Katherine, this is awesome.

I have never had anything make me feel less in control or more clueless than my precocious oldest, and yet I know he is hungry for structure, and wants it from me. This is just the ticket! (And I LOVE 4x6 cards...)There is, indeed a market for practical, simple preschooler tips. You've got me hooked...