Saturday, April 17, 2010

day one hundred seven: two rules of thumb for delegating chores

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

Whenever I talk about children and chores, people always want to know exactly how our chore day runs. You are in luck! I am in the middle of revising our chore schedule for the spring. (I usually alter our schedule, chore charts, etc. two to four times a year. I love planning!)

Tomorrow I will begin posting our current chore schedule. Before that, however, I want to share two rules of thumb that we have adhered to in our home concerning distributing jobs. We learned both of these things about twenty years ago at a Gregg Harris workshop—and they have helped us in the management of our home so much.

1. Give the job to the youngest person who can handle it.

When we first heard Mr. Harris say this, we had four kids seven and under—and we looked at each other and practically laughed out loud. We had more work than any two people could manage—Ray working seventy hours a week as the controller of an automotive plant; me homeschooling and doing private tutoring while caring for that many little kids (and five acres, a swimming pool, and a half acre (it seemed!) garden). However, we went home and took his advice to heart right away. If there was a task or chore that Joshua (age seven) or Kayla (age four) could handle, we assigned it to them. And you know what? We found that when we examined our life more closely, there were many things that Joshua could do—and Kayla was smart and able and followed suit in learning many jobs as well.

Throughout the years, this little bit of wisdom has meant a lot to us in managing our home and getting a lot accomplished. It meant that the youngest one who could do it did the laundry each day (for the girls, this was age six or seven; for the boys, age nine or so). It meant that the youngest one who could do it did the dishes (not just the silverware or cups!). It meant that the youngest one who could be on lunch duty successfully got lunch duty. It also meant that as each child matured, he or she learned more and more skills—and freed Mom up to teach the other kids more, train hearts, cook from scratch (thus, reducing our grocery budget), garden and can (again reducing our grocery budget), etc.

With this approach, even when the kids were fairly young, our chore sessions were extremely productive. And you know what? The kids were proud of their work! They loved not having token jobs. They loved telling relatives how much they could do. Every new recipe that a child learned to prepare, every new household task one became efficient in was cause for bragging to these kids! We were a family of chorers—working together to make things happen at home. (And we continue to be a family of chorers—working together to make things happen at home—and around the world now! smile…)

2. Think, “What can I do right now that nobody but I can do?”

This kind of goes hand in hand with Mr. Harris’ first tip—and expands on it. He recommended that in delegating work to family members, we consider that Mom should think of her work as the things that “nobody but I can do.” We thought about this and realized there was a lot of truth in it. There are so many tasks and jobs in the home that nobody but Mom can do (especially if you are a homeschooler).

Nobody but Mom could nurse the babies. Nobody but Mom (oftentimes) can do correspondences; do library business; plan menus; prepare recipes; do initial organization of bookcases, file cabinets, etc.; cook for company for many years; organize freezers the way she wants them; deep clean; etc. Add to that for homeschoolers—plan and purchase curriculum; plan the daily schedule; create lesson plans/kids’ school schedules; monitor said schedules; and much, much more.

Mr. Harris encouraged us (and Ray took this quite literally, which helped us immensely) to have Mom doing the things that only she could do and let Dad and the kids do the other things whenever possible. (Obviously, there are many things that only Dad can do, too, and we had to consider that as well.) For us, this meant that when we had family work session, Mom would do the things that only she could do (i.e. not frying hamburger, which anybody ten and over could do), Dad would oversee and work with the kids on their jobs, and the littles would do easier tasks.

This eventually carried over to the older kids. Once they could do harder jobs (for the girls this was editing and writing for our publishing company; now for the two older boys it is printing and binding curriculum and taking telephone orders), they did those—and younger ones took the easier jobs.

This approach helped Mom get more things accomplished, but it also put a sense of pride and accomplishment within our kids. Kara was rarely asked to unload the dishes or sweep the floor during her high school years. She could fix entire meals or do grocery shopping—why would she unload dishes? Jonathan, at seventeen, doesn’t fold and put away towels. He runs lawn equipment, takes the boys to things, and binds books.

This concept is not a demeaning one—but rather an empowering one. “I have skills. I have needed skills that make my family successful! I can do many things that others have not been trained in. I am grateful to be a part of this family and to have learned the things that I have learned.” Truly, these two approaches to household management (and now to management of our publishing company) have helped us achieve many of our family goals and given our children life-long skills and confidence.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Friday, April 16, 2010

day one hundred six: chores—tips for creating a chore schedule

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

One of the most important things to consider when developing chore schedules—whether they are for you, a teen, and Dad or a houseful of elementary kids and Mom—is to create a schedule that works for your family. If you get a book (like Sidetracked Home Executives) or go on a website (like Flylady) or even see the list I will be posting of our family’s chore schedule and try to do it exactly as someone else has done it, it will likely not work for your family. Sure, you will want to get ideas from others, but ultimately, it has to be a routine, schedule, list, etc. that works for your situation.

However, I am a teacher—and teachers must teach. So I will give you a list of tips today concerning setting up a chore schedule (more on who should do which jobs later) that I have found to help me throughout the twenty-seven years of parenting/chore-leading!

1. If you are having trouble getting around to daily work on a regular basis, just focus on daily work at first when developing your chore schedule. Do not try to do grandiose tasks if you do not do the dailies. You will be much happier and more at peace everyday if the daily tasks are done than you would be if you cleaned a closet every day but had dishes stacked all over the kitchen.

2. Attach chores to something that is already in your schedule. I discussed this at length in the Bible training/heart training posts earlier in this year. If something is important, attach it to something that you already do in order to be sure it gets done. For us, this meant attaching chores to meals. Since our kids eat all of their meals at home (generally speaking), we attached a chore session just before each meal. (Again, we have used various chore schedules, but this is the one I like the best---work before you eat!)

3. However you divide up the chore day (i.e. one big chore time or several smaller ones), be sure to put the “must do’s” in the slot that gets done the most often; the “want to’s” in the slot that gets done most of the time; and the “dream about’s” in the slot that you seldom get to or might not get to daily. For us, this meant that we put the most important tasks in the first chore session, the medium-importance items in the second chore session, and the least important jobs in the last chore session. (This is with the “15-30 minute chore session before each meal” schedule.) Often, we run students to music lessons, to research at the library, etc. later in the day. By organizing chores by order of importance, we ensure that those items that cannot be skipped are done regardless. (For example, the first slot always has a load of laundry, dishes, breakfast making, daily bathroom cleaning, evening meal preps (or at least thought about), and dog care. That way, even if we never get to before-lunch chores, we have those essentials done that day.)

4. Remember, if you are training preschoolers to do chores, consistency is the key. They will do much better if every morning for a couple of weeks or a month Johnny unloads the dishes and sets the table; Suzie folds a load of laundry and gathers all the trash; Mikey feeds the animals and helps with breakfast. If they do the same things day in and day out, these tasks will become theirs—and they will always know what is expected of them.

Getting closer to putting all of this info together—I promise! Tomorrow and the following day, I will share our current chore schedule. Then we will discuss age appropriateness of various tasks. Thanks for joining us—and for telling others about Positive Parenting 3*6*5!

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

day one hundred five: chore tips

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

1. Develop a chore division that works for your family’s schedule and dynamics.

If your children go to school and have after school activities, you might want to have each child do one morning task and one task before bedtime—then have family “weekly cleaning” time on Saturday mornings for an hour for weekly work and another time in which bedrooms will be inspected each week.

If you homeschool your children, you might desire (like I do) to have the most important daily work done each morning before school starts. If you work only part time and your children go to school and after school activities, you will likely do more of the work than you pass out—simply because you might be available more than, say children who go to school eight hours a day and after school activities another two to four and a husband who works ten to twelve hours a day. Do whatever works for you and your family.

2. Train children well in chores.

When our older children were little, I used summer as training times for our children in chores and housework. I made laundry charts and worked for two or three weeks on laundry alone. We did bathroom cleaning training all together—teaching the difference between daily bathroom cleaning and weekly bathroom cleaning. Once our children are trained to do jobs, they can handle much more than we think they can. (Chore resources (including training ones) will be given in a post at the end of this chore series.)

3. Children do better with chores when something is “theirs.”

Our children know when they are truly needed—and when they are just doing “token” jobs. We trained a child in a certain job well—and then gave that area to the child. These included laundry for the whole family, all dishes except evening, all trash, refrigerator and cupboard care, daily bathrooms, etc. Rather than just assigning “unload dishwasher,” when a child was ready to take on dishes, he washed, dried, loaded, and unloaded all dishes twice a day. (We all work together on dinner clean up in the evenings.) Rather than just saying “fold towels” for a ten year old, he took on all of the laundry twice a day (during the first chore session and the second chore session of each week day). Our children knew they were important members of our family—and that when we all work together, we can accomplish great things for our family, for the Lord, and for others.

4. Decide who will do what and how it will be divided up.**

We made a daily list—all chores and tasks in our home that needed done every day (three meals a day, two loads of laundry, two loads of dishes (in the dishwasher), trash all throughout the house, daily bathroom cleaning, etc.). These became the basis for our daily work. Then I spread these tasks out throughout our chore schedule. (Tomorrow’s post will be about developing your family’s chore schedule.)

Then I made a weekly list. We have done this differently throughout the years—assigned weekly jobs to the older kids who were not home every day to help with daily work (i.e. those in college or working—and they could do them whenever they had a chance); or spread them throughout the chore schedule—once the daily jobs were done; grouped them all together and did them during weekly family cleaning night; etc.

Monthly jobs were in theory supposed to be done monthly, but well…I’m not super woman, okay?? 

5. Have a check off or chart system and follow up on their work.

At first (and even later if we slack off), children will do the same things we adults sometimes do---try to get out of things, take the easy way out, etc. It is only through follow-up that we can train them in the character that is required to become diligent workers. (See the post on morning routines and morning routine charts for chart and lists for children-- )

6. Work hard yourself!

Our children never minded lengthy chore lists (they grew up with them--daily work is a huge part of large family living) simply because Mom and Dad work hard too. We might not be cleaning the bathroom or vaccuuming, but we certainly aren't watching the game on tv and playing on the computer! We have always taught our children the value of hard work--and modeled it for them as well. Everybody works hard--and then we all get to play hard!

Tomorrow—creating a chore schedule—when to do what. Thanks for joining us.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

day one hundred four: factors that affect your chore schedule

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

Those who have already had built-in chore sessions for many years have probably found what I have found: chore sessions change from season to season and year to year. Our chore sessions now are drastically different than they were ten years ago. Our chores sessions now are amazingly different than they were many years ago when I had seven children fourteen and under at home. I have less “chorers” now than I have had since my oldest three were prescholers. However, we also have less work. We can whip up mashed potatoes and baked steak in no time flat for five of us—compared to the laborious meals we used to make when there were nine of us. Time has a way of changing everything.

The most successful chore schedule I have found is that of the before-meals sessions (though we’ve done after meal sessions, twice a day, all-work-done-before-read-aloud, and many other methods with success too). More on this later in the week!

It helps when developing your chore schedule to think about things that will influence it. How you organize your chore sessions will be dependent upon the following things (plus more, I’m sure):

*How many people you have completing chores each day

*The ages and training of those doing the chores

*Your expectations (!)

*How many small children you have (i.e. how many big messes you have to clean up everyday in addition to chore sessions!)

*Whether you are just doing daily jobs during chores or trying to scatter weekly work among the chore sessions too

*Whether you have any other systems in place to take care of some work (i.e. Friday afternoon family cleaning, chef for the day for meal preps, mega cooking meals in freezer, maid (!), etc.)

*How many activities everyone is involved in and how often kids (and parents!) are actually home to do the chores

*Whether you do most of the cooking or delegate that to others

*What you eat for your meals (leftovers for lunch take less time and can be done by younger children than cooking a hot lunch from scratch; some children who go to school eat breakfast and lunch at school—this would lessen the grocery shopping and food preparations considerably during the school year)

*Whether your children are trained to re-use clean, already-worn clothing and not create unnecessary laundry or not

*Whether your children go to school each day, making more work first thing in the mornings but making fewer messes all day long

*Your view of housework (i.e. you feel that it is Mom’s job—and you only give token jobs to children—and feel guilty for giving those vs. you see all work as every one’s and do not have a problem dividing it all up among the “tenants”!)

We have taught our children to work hard and long from very early ages. Our three oldest children could do amazing things when they were very young. I can remember when Kara (number four) was seven years old and whined about making toast for breakfast. I would say to her, “When Kayla (first daughter, second child) was your age, she made the bread from scratch, baked it, sliced it, then toasted it for breakfast!”

Now I don’t focus on amazing feats---simply keeping the house picked up, the laundry all done, dishes completed, and easy meals prepared are my goals for my three busy sons, Ray, and me. I now work thirty hours a week in ministry and teaching, in addition to homeschooling our three sons. Again, time changes so many things. However, these changes have forced me to take a look at how we can “get it all done” more and more—and to find creative solutions to challenges.

Tomorrow: more chore tips--dividing up the work in chore sessions. Then putting it all together. Then age appropriate chore lists. Can you tell I’m having fun writing about chores??? 

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

day one hundred three: chores—whose job is the housework?

“Before I knew it, it was time to set the table for lunch. Josiah and I raced to see who could get done with our jobs first. I slowed down at the end so Josiah could catch up---then I let him win! Mommy took me into her room alone and gave me a million hugs. She said she was so happy that I was learning to see how others feel—and that I make Josiah feel important. I think she’ll probably tell Daddy, and he’ll say, “Jonathan, Mommy told me a good report about you!” I love it when he says that—he always has a big smile on his face and tears in his eyes when he does.”*

Chore week at Positive Parenting 3*6*5! Chores for all ages! I have talked at great length about Preventive Parenting—doing those things ahead of time that make things run more smoothly in our homes and with our children. Two Preventive Parenting tips that we teach a lot about is that of developing “routines”—morning routines, after school routines, bedtime routines, etc. that provide stability and consistency for our children. The second one is developing chore times for family members. (For the initial post about morning routines, including the chore cards we have used for morning routine charts and chore charts, see the earlier post here  .)

Today’s excerpt has Jonathan stopping from his morning activities to do “lunch time chores”—setting the table for lunch. I will talk at length this week about when, where, how much, etc. for chore times. However, I want to begin with chore time theories—to make sure that we are all on the same page about household work—or at least introduce you to our theories about homemaking and household work.

I personally know very few true “homemakers” as I define them—women whose full time job is to manage a home, including cooking, shopping, cleaning, organizing, etc. Most women nowadays either work part or full time (and try to manage homemaking tasks in the evenings and on weekends) or are “stay at home moms” in order to provide their own child care and/or to homeschool. Either of the latter two moms would definitely not be considered “full time homemakers” since caring for a couple or few young children and/or homeschooling generally takes at least what would be considered a “half time” job. Thus, a woman in one of these scenarios would still not be considered a full time homemaker in the way we see or think of Beaver’s mom—cleaning, cooking, and shopping all day while the children are in school.

Household chores take a lot of time—for somebody. According to Kathy Fitzgerald Sherman, in A Housekeeper Is Cheaper Than a Divorce (I hate that title—and actually fought within myself about even bringing the book into the house—however, it has a lot of useful information about dividing up work, not just hiring outside help, which most of us cannot afford to do), the following statistics are the measurements of today’s household chores:

a. The average American mother spends thirty-five hours a week doing housework. (This does not include time spent in child rearing but does include grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, organizing, etc.).

b. The first child triggers an increase of twenty-one hours of chores each week over pre-child days (excluding childcare); each additional child thereafter adds six hours of chores weekly (again, excluding child care).

Aside from quoting Titus, which indicates that a woman should love her children and her husband and run the affairs of her household (but does not indicate that she should do all of the work!), the Bible is not as clear about who should do what, when, in the Christian home. There are verses that show that a husband should provide for his family—but these do not indicate that a woman will not earn money. There are verses about providing clothing and managing a home (in Titus and Proverbs 31) as indicative as a virtuous woman.

Does managing a home, seeing that our family is fed, getting our children clothing that keeps them from being cold in the winter, etc. indicate that a woman should do all of the housework? We cannot get that from the Bible in any stretch of the imagination. Someone campaigning for all women to work and bring in finances could use the same verses (i.e. Proverbs 31) to suggest that women must bring in income through “buying and selling,” “managing workers,” etc.

So the ground work for our chore thinking:

1. There are two to four dozen hours of work to be done each week in a home with children---and this number is on the upper end in larger families. (This is household work only—not farm work or child care.)

2. The biggest indicators in the Bible of who should do which chores are actually found in other parts of the Bible than the “husband/wife” parts—do unto others as you would have them do unto you; do good when it is in your power; reach out to those in need; work diligently in all things as unto the Lord; dwell with your wife according to knowledge; etc.

3. The home is the training grounds for all other ministries/future endeavors. If children are taught to work diligently at home, they will likely become diligent workers as adults.

4. The concept of the homemaker doing all of the housework is fine in theory. However, every other job that a mother takes on (i.e caring for small children, homeschooling, helping with the care of parents or other elderly relatives, working part time or full time—and in some cases, all of the above!) decreases her “homemaking” hours—which means that somebody has to do those thirty-five hours of chores each week—at least the part that the “homemaker” cannot do as she does other things expected of her nowadays.

5. Everybody in the family should help care for the home and clothing they have. Housework is not one person’s job. We all eat, sleep, soil clothing, make messes, etc. and we should all work together to keep things up.

So...that’s where we stand on chores. They are always there. They must be done. They belong to everybody in the family. Don’t leave us! Tomorrow we will discuss factors that affect your chore schedule.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

**For detailed information on dividing up housework, see the aforementioned A Housekeeper Is Cheaper Than a Divorce or Sidetracked Home Executives.

Monday, April 12, 2010

day one hundred two: inspirations from a godly mom’s well-spent life

Today was a glorious, yet incredibly sad, day for many homeschooling families in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. A lovely fellow homeschooling family lost its mother. Cheryl Too, age forty-five and mother of four children ranging in age from ten to seventeen, died a few days ago suddenly from a brain aneurysm. I say it was a glorious day because all of us at her funeral knew beyond a shadow of a doubt where Cheryl is spending eternity. It was a sad day for obvious reasons: four sweet children and a wonderful husband are without their mother and wife.

Cheryl’s godly, productive life and her sudden death have caused many people, me included, to think about our own lives—and to desire to do this job of Christian parenting (and marriage) better. And when I think, I have to write. So, here are my inspirations from this amazing mom’s life and death. May you glean from her as I have.

Use our time wisely. My first thought is one that most people think of when they consider someone their own age passing away: we need to number our days. Psalm 90: 12 tells us, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” In parenting terms, however, I am more motivated than ever to “number my days.” To make the most of the time I have remaining with our sons at home—and any opportunities that we get to influence, teach, love, and invest in our four grown children. Cheryl was such a good example of using her time wisely with her children. One of the recurring themes from everyone concerning her these past few days has been that “her children were prepared for anything.” They are well-educated (via their parents’ diligent homeschooling), eloquent, servant-minded, loving, character-filled, content, well-adjusted kids. That didn’t just happen. The time Cheryl used wisely to invest in her children was a huge part of their “readiness for anything.”

Have a meek and quiet spirit. I have never been accused of being quiet. I sometimes consider myself meek only when defining the word as “strength under control.” However, Cheryl was the epitome of a meek and quiet spirit—and not because she didn’t say anything or didn’t think her own thoughts. She fulfilled I Peter 3: 4 (“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price”) as she served, loved, taught, reached out, and helped without great fanfare or expectation of acclaim. Her four children are the types of kids that everybody wants—loving to each other, kind, helpful, intelligent, diligent, servant-minded, talented, AND absolutely beautiful! And yet, she never made others feel jealous or inferior as some moms with those types of children might do. This, too, was her meekness coming through in all of her interactions.

Prioritize serving others—and teach our children to serve. On the evening of Cheryl’s death, Cami and Joseph (my daughter and son-in-law) had their hands full with one hundred cognitively disabled adults who didn’t understand why Cheryl was gone. “She’s my friend. She can’t die.” “She loved us. She has to be here.” A little more than a year ago, Cheryl and her family started serving at the One Heart Disability Ministry that Cami and Joseph lead. Specifically, Cheryl led the singing on Thursday evenings during a worship service that is designed just for adults and young adults with disabilities. This fall Cheryl was planning to lead one of the newly-formed clubs, specifically a choir, for these special people. As pastors and family members spoke of Cheryl at the funeral today, the theme was the same: she always reached out and ministered to others. And she taught her children to do the same. Serving at One Heart was a priority for Cheryl and her kids, as were other ministries and opportunities that she participated in throughout her life.

Serve at home first. We have always believed that there are hundreds of principles that can be seen throughout Scriptures. One that we have taught our children over and over, and that is obvious in Cheryl and Heng’s life, is that of serving closest to home first—then branching out. I think that's why Jesus said, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" Acts 1:8 (NKJV). That denotes an order--first closest to you, then farther from home, then all over the world--once you have shown yourself faithful to those closest. This was obvious in Cheryl’s life in the way she ministered in her home tirelessly before branching out to what we sometimes consider “great” things. And then, when she did branch out, it was to her own community—and to the lowly, whom many people do not want to serve. Of course, she had served in her church for years and years through singing, teaching, and gifts of helps. Also, pertinent to this discussion of serving those closest to us first, it was amazing to hear her three siblings’ testimonies of how Cheryl had been instrumental in each of them coming to Christ as adults. That is definitely “receiving power to be witnesses” at home first!

Do things well. We have had the privilege of having the Too children in Training for Triumph’s cottage classes in the past few years. In teaching their children speech, debate, writing, and sign language, it is obvious to us that Cheryl did what she did very well. Specifically this year, I have loved editing her son Jeremy’s papers in writing class. As he completes the Checklist Challenge (the revising and editing system in our books), I can tell where Cheryl’s teaching touch was present—helping him find the perfect verb, replacing redundancy with synonyms, writing strong thesis statements. She would let him think of what he wanted to say here or there and pen it into his rough draft for him, cuing him and modeling for him. Not long ago he even brought a paper that his mom had printed off the internet for him—one hundred ways to replace the word “says” in your writing! She and the kids sang in February at One Heart’s Valentine’s banquet this year—and they definitely did it well. I know for me personally I continue to get bogged down trying to do too many things—and feeling that I am not doing any of them well. Cheryl’s life makes me want to do what I do very well.

Juggle expertly. Cheryl was a mom like the rest of us, doing the stuff day in and day out; making decisions as to what could fit in their schedule and what had to be dropped; budgeting for a family of six on her husband’s full time salary and her part time (third shift!) job; trying to meet the needs of four children and a husband while serving the Lord and others; attempting to manage a household, homeschool, and more. And she did it with such grace and skill. “Juggling” is one of the hardest jobs for the Christian mom—and one that I, like Cheryl did, want to do more expertly—and with fewer balls dropped.

Teach our children God’s Word and God’s ways. My sons were greatly affected by Cheryl’s passing after having worked with her at One Heart, as well as through being friends with her kids. It has been hard to think about the Too children being without their incredible mother. However, it is also amazing to think about how thoroughly and diligently Heng and Cheryl taught their children God’s Word and God’s ways. At home, through church activities such as Awana’s (in which their parents helped serve), and, yes, “when they walked by the way,” the Too children were instructed in righteousness. Can I look for more opportunities to teach my boys God’s Word? Can we read more, study more, listen more, and talk more? I think we can; and I want to.

A godly mother’s life well-lived. I know that I will not be the same as a result of getting to know Cheryl and seeing her life end so quickly and suddenly. Let’s provoke one another to good works as this mother did—even moreso as we see the day approaching.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

day one hundred one: links and ideas for activities for room time for preschoolers

“Soon it was time for Jakie to play in his play pen, so Josiah and I got to play together. Next thing I knew, we were in trouble! Mommy came into the room and said that it looked like a tornado went through. We did it again! We got too many things out at one time. We had stuff all over the living room: Legos, cars and trucks, Duplo people, books, and stuffed animals. It took us FOREVER to clean it up---even with Kara’s help. Josiah and I had to each do an extra fifteen minute chore with Mommy because we forgot the rule about getting out too many things at one time. “*

Many of the activities listed for toddlers yesterday would work well for preschoolers. Additionally, we added more “preparation for school” type of things (remember, we tried to not teach anything formally that we could teach informally) as was appropriate.

Another thing we did with activities, per se, was to add things into their room time that we had used with them already. For example, after we did a Laurie puzzle with the child and he could do it alone well, we moved it to his room time for him to play with it by himself. (We also did this with reading—a mastered “oral reader” became the child’s “silent reader”—more on this in helping your children in school later!)

Again, I recommend that you take two dozen or so items that you want to save for room time—that the preschooler cannot just go get out of the toy box or off the toy shelf—and get these out one or two at a time for his room time. Obviously, we had Legoes, dress up, Playmobile, etc. out all the time for the little ones to play with—so these things may or may not work for room time (it depends on how much they love playing with them!). The key is to have activities that are not always available that would interest your little ones during a concentrated independent time.

1. Duplos continue to be good choices for preschoolers, following a transition into Legoes whenever the child is ready. We carefully kept our Duplos and Legoes separated, especially when the toddlers and preschoolers shared in room time.

2. The felt books and felt playsets continue to be good for this age group:

3. Wedgits:

4. Laurie puzzles and sets:

5. Imaginets (we never had these, but had various types of magnets for our kids at different ages):

6. Silly putty, play dough, clay—they love all of them. We made our own play dough for years and years—store bought play dough does not begin to compare to home made. The stove top version is softer and longer lasting. We loved it. However, preschoolers usually don’t care! As far as “silly putty” is concerned, Timberdoodle has some amazing stuff: or colorful/glow in the dark:

7. ABC puzzles—Timberdoodle carries the Laurie ones we used, but there are many nice ones out there (we loved giant floor puzzles, especially with this age):

8. World and USA puzzles and colorforms—Timberdoodle has some great ones for preschoolers:

9. Brio trains—there’s a reason your preschoolers are always drawn to the trains in the waiting room of the doctor’s office! Take a look at them here

10. Measuring/weighing activities—we got ours from a teaching supply store, but Discovery Toys has one right now that looks great:

11. Pattern blocks—this is the set we had for all of our children, though it had a different name then; I will list it here, but it is really more of an activity you do with your child:

12. For children who are not Lego fans—or when your preschoolers like more make believe play than the chubby Duplo or Fisher Price people but are not ready for small Legoes, consider Playmobile. It doesn’t have the building aspects to it (except for the headache of building everything before children play with it—I’ve actually heard of parents hiring teens to assemble these things before Christmas!)—but the make believe and play value of nearly anything Playmobile is incredible (and the play value extends to unsaturated-with-television ten year olds as well!):

13. Magnifiers! We used the department store cheapoes, but these look fantastic:

14. Colorful, sorting items (bears, in this case)--What needs to be said about anything this darling and colorful—these were not the ones we had, but this set makes me want to “do it all over again!”

15. Shape sorters—these are ideal to do with your preschooler, but once we played with our little ones with these, they also enjoyed using them alone:

16. Sand and water tables are pricey—you can do similar activities with tiny swimming pools on the porch or even flat tubs filled with water and/or sand—our little ones would occasionally have “room time” in the bath tub in their swim suits (usually two at a time!) with an older child stationed in there reading and keeping an eye on the littles. Here is one to give you an idea of the type of play I’m describing:  OR here is another one that has four tubs in frames:

17. Stencils with markers, crayons, etc. We used plastic ones rather than card stock ones. Here are some ABC ones

18. Traffic signs and other things to go with cars and trucks and car and truck mats recommended yesterday in the toddler list:

19. Lego tables and lego plates to build on keep something intact. We used inexpensive ones picked up at garage sales and wholesale clubs, but I still drool over the elaborate ones. Here is a modest one:

20. Magnetic mazes—these are ideal even for road trips since there are no loose pieces; unfortunately, we only had these for our boys as they were not available when I was a young parent! or

21. Lacing beads—again, this is one you will want to do with the child first

22. Lacing activities:

23. Cash register! This is the one we used:

24. Puppets—Okay, I admit it—I collected puppets as a hobby when my kids were growing up! These are readily available at yard sales and second hand stores:

25. Animals! And yes, I had ours divided by zoo, wild, farm….I loved the preschool days!

26. Magnetics—we liked the shape ones, but there are all kinds available:
27. Floor puzzles:

Okay…this is getting OC, as my kids say (out of control!), so I will stop for today. Tomorrow—and all this week—we turn to chores!!! (My second favorite subject next to preschoolers!).

One final note about preschool room time activities: Be sure you get true “independent” activities. Avoid electronics, difficult to assemble toys, or other activities that require too much help in order for the preschooler to play with.

*For the complete story of “Jonathan’s Journal, follow this link:

**Benefits of room time for preschoolers and toddlers: