Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Check Lists for Kids

When it comes to getting yourself ready for something smoothly and at a reasonable time, such as getting out of the house each morning, or getting yourself to bed, how would you rate yourself as successful on a scale of easy to hard?  

  •  Do you have a specific order of tasks that you do before reaching your destination whether it be school or your bed? 
  • Is one task harder than others?  
  • Are there any obstacles that get in your way, like for instance, being distracted by squirrels or other shiny objects or struggles in trying to trick your mind into thinking that you are a morning person? 
  • Are you scrambling to make it or is it all smooth sailing? 
  • Do you have other people in your little community tapping on your shoulder every few minutes or is everyone in the house using a forte or fortissimo volume to communicate needs that get a bit in your way?

Me These Days
Maybe the question is too vague and answers might vary as far as what you are getting ready for.  For me, since my third child, I feel like I am often in why-do-I-feel-like-I-have-a-frenzy brain mode.  I can't figure out what happened to my beloved consistency in being able to keep track of family life aspects. Sometimes I think back to my college days where it was just me I had to worry about. I had very specific morning routines and mostly bed time as well.  Of course homework did throw that off at times. Even before my little third love was born, I had a alternating exercise/stretching routine with prayer incorporated as well in the mornings. Things have gone from "did I remember my homework assignments?" to "did I shower this morning??"  The "Did I shower this morning?" happened after each child was born, but with the first two, it went away after a couple of months. Not this time!

I remind myself though, that now I'm tracking 4 people instead of 3. Plus the dog. One of them being a toddler, one a brilliant yet distracted sweet heart, the oldest being a "we must have this done now!" boy and a dog who is constantly begging for a sleeping spot on the couch (he is so offended by the gate chain we put on at night). But really, every little bit changes things.

But here is another thought.

How do your children do at getting themselves ready? 

You might be on rolling on the floor at this point. But seriously, what's it like? Does getting them ready for something make you absolutely lose your mind? Are you amongst those who wonder why it  takes 45 minutes to eat a piece of toast? Or perhaps you have a child who does great and you are wondering why your 10 year old son is able to be ready in 20 minutes and an hour before it's time to leave the house when it takes you 15 minutes to find clothes.  Just to ponder, if your child is the first example and us as adults struggle to get ourselves ready for events, how difficult is it for children who need concrete help? 

Kids Staying on Task
My daughter Adelyn, who I have shared about many times, does wonderfully at school or in other places outside of the home in staying on task.  At home though, I think she let's down her guard and just feels free to let the creative juices flow.  She also is a wonderful little helper to our youngest, Lincoln who is two.  She's loves to help me with him, but there are times when I have to remind her that her other priorities have to come first or she will not be ready.

Check Lists
I would prefer to have 20 check lists posted on walls, but since I need them with me all the time I have succumbed to the check lists on the smart phone. General reminders to complete today, chores, music therapy, Moms Ministry, Scouts, Things to Purchase, Long-Term Family To-dos, etc. I suppose I could leave out a morning and bed time check list on the wall for myself.  Recently, I have found myself maybe needing one at bedtime to remember things like "calm down mind" before bed.  Prayers I do, but something like deep breathing, journaling, or just reminding myself that I do not need to be doing chores or other related tasks right before bed.

In the past couple of years we have created some check lists that has shown more success in staying on task. We created 3 check lists for different times of the day.

Two are the same and are printed.  Not only are the words there on the printed ones, but there are pictures too and tasks are in the order that works best.  The velcro there is to move the marking ball to the task she is currently on.

The third list for after school is a changing list and I write it on our kitchen dry erase board.

We have 3.

Morning Check List

After School Check List

Night Time Check List

This is a pic from my computer, but on my printed version, the Pokeball is velcro and she velcro's it to the space she is on. 

Helpful Routine Check List Tips for Kids

     1. Print it
                  Print it out and put it in a spot they will easily see it and in a location they spend the most                    time in for that particular time of day.

     2. Pictures
                  Use visuals/pictures!  They are processed faster than words in the brain.  When reading                        words we process what each letter sounds like, string them all together to form a word,                        and then process what that words means.
     3. Include Words
                  Do include the words also to interpret what some of the pictures mean in case there is                          anything confusing. This also helps little ones learning to read.  Make it big enough to see                    clearly.
     4. Transition Marker
                   To eliminate wasting time by going through the entire checklist again to find where they                        left off, use the transition marker.  This is a picture that is velcroed next to each step so                        that the current step is easily located. (This was a learning process for us). 

     5. Use Velcro
                   Velcro can often help children who are tactile-kinesthetic learners and satisfy sensory needs.  They get to actively pull and push something and feel different textures in doing so.

To Make your Own Printed with Velcro

  1. Pick your goal
  2. Pick your tasks
  3. Take pictures of each
  4. Make your document with pictures, words, and the spaces for the marker.
  5. Pick your marker picture and print
  6. Laminate the list and the marker separately
  7. Cut the velcro and stick to the list
  8. Velcro the back of the marker.
  9. Post on the wall!


Whiteboard check lists can be great when your routine may change from day to day such as after-school check lists.  We have different activities each day so the whiteboard in the kitchen is great. I don't include pictures as easily (my artwork may not be quite clear), but it works for us. You can definitely include simple pictures and it is great for learning to read or readers.

     1.  Use a different color for each child.

     2. Use large and visible print and clear pictures.

     3. Include time frames or specific times as needed.

Ways to Maybe Help Ourselves Minimize Any Chaos
So to help yourself get ready with minimal tears and steaming emotions, here are questions to help direct your or your kid's thoughts in completing tasks.

  • What do you currently use to help yourself be successful? 
  • How much time do you give yourself? 
  • Have you thought about how much time it take you to do each task? 
  • Are you a morning or night lover?
  • Are you visual? Do you need a check list with words/and or pictures? 
  • Do you need a timer? 
  • Do you need quiet or maybe something peppy to move you along?
  • Do you need extra time to relax your mind first?
  • If something happens out of our control what is the worst that can happen? 
Any other thoughts I missed?  

Sometimes Mission Control Isn't in Control

I am clearly not perfect at any of the above.  And clearly, if you have children, and technology there are things you just cannot control sometimes.  Baby up at 3:00 AM, toddler up at 3:00 AM, 5 year old lost every pair of shoes suitable for playing at the park when it's time to leave, teenage daughter had a crisis 10 minutes before the bus, someone is vomiting, someone decided they had to poop mid routine and it took 15 minutes longer than expected, "oh yeah, there is a spelling test tomorrow and these words on this week's list are not the only words, but the other list is missing", someone needs a 6 drinks of water before bed, iPhone updated without your permission and you can't figure out how to work the new check list, Facebook distracted you, etc.

Check lists do not make life perfect but they do help tremendously.  What helps you?