The biggest question I get when I tell people that I homeschool with 5 children at home is, “How do you motivate everyone and get everything done?” That is a real challenge. Some days are better than other days, but the biggest help to me is a program that I found online called, “Accountable Kids.”
Accountable Kids is a whole system for running your home, whether you homeschool or not. The kids are given chore cards to complete in the morning, afternoon, and evening. When they complete a chore segment they get a ticket that they can then exchange for a privilege. If they misbehave they lose a ticket, and this allows you to use Love and Logic parenting without having to sit and decide what to take away all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I would say, “Uh-oh, it looks like your [insert some cool toy] is going on time out, just to have my daughter shrug her shoulders with a sassy look on her face. The ticket system works so much better. If the privileges aren’t enticing enough to motivate your child to get moving, then have a meeting and set new privileges.
Currently a ticket in our house can buy a snack, 30 minutes of screen time, extra math time (my son is way into math), free reading time, craft time, and a cup of juice. We ask each kid what he/she wants to spend tickets on, and come up with a list that we update periodically. I have occasionally run into power struggles with my oldest over chores, and I will cover what I did in another post.
My kids can earn four tickets a day instead of the usual three that the program suggests. I have a personal maintenance ticket which is rewarded for making your bed, attending to personal care in the morning and evening, cleaning your room, and eating and cleaning up for meals. I then have a music ticket that is rewarded for practicing your string instrument and piano. A cleaning ticket is rewarded for completing a daily chore or two, and a school ticket is rewarded for completing the schoolwork assigned for the day.
I changed it to four tickets so that I could have more tickets to work with in a day. That way it isn’t quite as devastating to lose one. (I am a nice mom, I know. Plus I need their little breaks too.) Also some of their chores are time intensive, and when music chores were mixed into the morning it seemed like a lot of work for one measly ticket and the kids weren’t into it.
Accountable Kids comes with a book to help implement the program, and there is also a facebook group online and a website with quick start videos. I feel like the program has a lot of support. I have written in on the facebook page to ask other parents how they handle situations that come up in my house with the accountable kids system, and it is like having lots of wise friends brainstorm solutions with you.
I will be totally frank though, this program should be called, “Accountable Parents.” If you feel like lounging for a day and not getting the kids to go through their chore routine, you will undermine your authority and will have to fall back on some other way of enforcing order. This program makes it so that I can’t easily tell my kids to just go turn on the TV to get them out of my hair. Do they have tickets? Do they want to spend them on TV? If not, then I guess I am stuck with them underfoot. Thank goodness for the quiet time chore! But when I am feeling less responsible or motivated, it is really trying to have to help my kids do their piano or school work so they get their tickets. It forces me to be consistent. So be aware that it isn’t only the kids that have to get their act together…