Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Learning Box

Do you have that house chore that you hate to do? ... oh, sorry ... we don't use the H-word in our house.  How about a chore that you detest, despise, dislike, abhor, find intolerable, recoil from, loath or are disinclined to do? :)  I do.

I am not a duster.  I only dust when it becomes absolutely necessary (the kids are writing their names in it) or when I'm trading out Christmas decorations.  Yep ... not much of a duster!  I also don't like to clean out the window sills ... yuck.  It grosses me out to wipe out the cobwebs and dead bugs.  Blech.  I am also a tad bit repelled :) by wiping down the bannisters.  And, boy, do our handrails need it.  The kids seem to confuse the bannisters with the bathroom sink.  By the time they get to the bathroom to wash up after dinner, their hands are clean, but the railings aren't. :)

Now ... did you know that if you have a task that you feel a bit aversion toward, that you also have at your disposable a great tool for discipline?!?  Not only do you get your point across to your kiddos about obedience and respect ... but you also get your house clean!  I got this idea from two different sources ... so you know it's good!  We had a speaker come to MOPS a few years back that introduced the idea and then I read Lisa Whelchel's book, Creative Correction, and she had it in there, too.  Me being me, I have expanded the idea a bit and catered it to our home and our family.  Here's the scoop:

The Great Learning Box

Choose two different colored papers.  You'll need 3-4 sheets of each.  We have one set that is plain, white computer paper and the other is a craft paper that has red writing on one side while the other side is blank.  Keeping the papers separate, cut them into about 2 inch squares.  Take one pile of squares and begin writing down all the chores that you cause you revulsion. :)  The more tedious the better!  We call these our "Bummers".

Here are some of ours:
Spot cleaning the floor,
Wipe down bannisters,
Wipe down doorknobs,
Dust furniture (in specific rooms),
Pick up sticks outside,
Dust window sills,
Gather trash,
Dust heat registers,
Sweep front steps/back patio,
Wash specific windows,
Wipe down toilet flushes,
Wipe down sinks/faucets,
Shake rugs,
Beat pillows,
Straighten family room,
Wipe down counters, sinks, tables,
Sweep kitchen,
Dust picture frames,
Sort laundry,
Pick up dog doo,
Dust baseboards,
Tidy outside toys,
Wipe down kitchen chairs,
Wipe down kitchen cabinets and knobs,
... You get the idea!

Next on the other set of paper, write down small rewards.  We call these our "Yahoos".

Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Sweet treat,
25 cents,
Bear hug,
10 minutes screen time (tv, video games, computer),
10 minutes extra book time,
10 minutes extra time before bed,
... Any small things your kids would love!

Now find a little box or jar that you can toss all the papers in and give them a shake.

We learn a lot with this little box :)

Now you have at your disposal a great system for rewarding and correcting your kids ... and getting your pillows fluffed, too!

Here's how it works:  Anytime that I catch my kids serving or taking on a necessary task without being asked, using good manners or doing something Yahoo-worthy, they get to pull out a red piece of paper and then they get whatever is written there.  You can be certain that they are a tad bit disappointed when they pull out "Smooch", but maybe next time it'll be screen time. :)  

As for correcting my kids, when they disobey, talk-back, are rude or do anything else that would be considered a "Bummer", they get to pull out a white piece of paper and do whatever task is written there.  Sometimes, depending on the age of the offender, I have them re-draw.  The job then needs to be done immediately (Sorry, your buddies will have to wait outside while you gather trash.) and completely (Oops ... that still looks dirty.  Try again!) or they are liable to get another job.  We have found that the kids are usually more compliant and respectful after a job (or two) ... I think that it gives them time to think about their offense and also get some of their grumbling out of their system.  And if not ... well ... there is always some task somewhere in the house that could use some attention!

Just a few more thoughts about making this work:
  • We use Clorox wipes for cleaning most surfaces.  I can trust Ashley to use them safely and I don't have to worry about spray bottles or harsh chemicals.
  • If the kids are having trouble with each other, I will have them choose a job to do together, side by side, possible holding hands.  :)  By the end of the prescribed task, they are almost always on better terms with each other as shown by the giggling and silliness.  If they are still having trouble ... then it's back to the box!
  • We have found that when the big kids (some times all of them at the same time) are at work, Lydia wants to help out.  Great!  She is learning from example how to wipe down door knobs, etc.  I'm sure she will have her fair share of jobs soon enough!
  • It's important to check their work and if it's not done well, they need to do it again.  This tool box also helps to teach responsibility and trustworthiness ... all good character traits!
  • I love that when I'm frustrated by one of my kid's areas of disobedience (for the Nth time!), sending them off to do a job gives me time to cool my head, too.  After they're finished scrubbing I'm much more likely to correct my kids with patience rather than anger.  We all win!
Now ... there are two extra slips of paper that I have included in our box.  They read, "Mercy".  If the offending child draws a "Mercy" slip, they get a hug instead of a job and a sigh of relief.  This is a great way to teach our kids about God's mercy for us ... we don't get what we deserve if we are trusting in God for His grace.


  1. Sounds familiar... I like to compare your list to mine, though... may give me some new chores to add! Since our move, I haven't seen the job jar... It's just a list on the inside of a cupboard door for now. :( There were yahoos in our jar too, peach colored instead of white. I love getting a clean house this way!

  2. I just found your blog & this post. This is AWESOME!

  3. This is AWESOME!!! Might have to make one for my 6 yr old.


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