Archive - April 2009

8 Ways to Make Choretime Work in Your Home
Basilica of the National Shrine

8 Ways to Make Choretime Work in Your Home

1.  Use “if -then” consequences.  In other words, if the chores are not done correctly, then there’s no watching TV/going out to play/getting on the computer.  Whatever your child enjoys doing in their free time is on the line here,so  they need to learn to work before play.  I know some families that require chores to be done before breakfast.  They don’t have many problems with morning dawdlers!

2.  Have a set chore time. We do chores twice a day – in the morning after breakfast and in late afternoon.  Chore time is the same every day so my children know what to expect.  Give fair warnings, like announcing that chore time is in 30 minutes, then setting a timer to let everyone know it’s time to get to work.

3.  Set a good example.  When your children are doing chores, you do yours, too.

4.  Take the time to train. Don’t expect your child to know what to do.  Teach them how to look under the bed, behind the dresser and on the closet floor when cleaning their room.  Show them how to get into the corners when sweeping the floor. Explain how move furniture around when vacuuming.

5.  Inspect their work. Depending the age, ability and dependability of the child, you don’t need to inspect their chores every day.  For younger children or a child learning a new chore, you might have to work with them for a while.  Eventually they can work on their own, with daily inspections and finally you can taper off to the occasional pop inspection.

6.  Use specific feedback.  When checking on their work, let your child know what they did right and what needs improvement.  Don’t say, “this room is still a mess”, instead say, “You did a good job making the bed, but I see some clothes sticking out under the bed. ”  Or, “The bathroom sinks are nice and shiny, but I think you forgot the mirrors.”  When they get everything done correctly, give them lots of praise!

7.  Be flexible.  In our home, afternoon chores need to started at 5 PM.  The National Anthem plays at that time, signaling my children to come in from outside.  When their chores are completed, they may go back outside.  However, I also allow them to do their chores before they head out so that they may play without interruption.  However this is a privilege earned by doing chores correctly and without complaint.

8.  Remember that chore training is a part of parenting. Yes, it is easier to do household chores yourself.  You’ll be faster and do them better.  But being consistent with chores is teaching your children so many good things.

For more about how I set up a chore system, see my article at the Homeschool Classroom: Managers of Their Chores.


How do you know when homeschooling is working?  Test scores? College admissions rates?

When your 8 year old finds the word “tzar” while playing Boggle with the family.

Basilica of the National Shrine

Our Catholic homeschool group took the show on the road Friday with a field trip to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Or just the Basilica, for short.

After getting lost taking the scenic route in the rain, we still managed to get there in time for mass in the crypt chapel, where our group was welcomed – by name- by the officiating priest.  Then lunch in the cafeteria where it looked for a moment that we were not going to be able to find seats for the 22 of us, but by the time we’d gone through the line all sorts of tables had opened up.

After lunch we had a guided tour.  I’d love to say that it was wonderful, but our guide talked sooo fast that he was difficult to understand.  I was trying hard to hear what he had to say, and I know that the children missed most of it.  I got some great pictures, though.

The basilica contains over 70 chapels and oratories dedicated to Our Lady, and they reflect the cultures and traditions of people around the world. This one, to Our Lady of Lourdes, is a replica of the grotto in France.
I’m not sure why it had a gate in front of it.

Bip was on a potty break when we saw the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I took him back to see it and asked him if he knew who it was.  “Mary!” he said in that cute preschooler way he has.


I showed him Juan Diego, with the roses spilling out of his tilma.


I thought Our Lady of China was beautiful –

Walking into the main part of the church, this is the ceiling –

And a close up of one of the domes…

When you’re visiting DC, don’t miss the Basilica!  They have free pamphlets available to help you find your way or you can purchase a more in depth guide.  Both are available in the bookstore or gift shop.  There’s free parking, always a plus in DC!



My friend and neighbor packed out this week and they’ll be leaving on Saturday morning.   We’ve been living on the same block for 3 years now, and we’ve seen each other almost every day.  Our children play together, our daughters dance together, we go to Catholic Women of the Chapel together, our husbands were on the parish council together, we went to our Catholic homeschool group together.  Our lives have been intertwined for the last few years and now it is time to say goodbye.

I won’t even pretend that we aren’t very sad about this.  This has got to be the worst thing about military life, the saying farewell.

It’s not too bad when you are the one leaving.  For weeks and months before your packers arrive, you are busy with the details of moving.  Things happen in a blur, the stress levels increase and it’s all such a hassle, then the packers show up and do their thing, your stuff is loaded in a van, you clean your house one last time and you’re gone.  Off to the next big adventure.  You’re sad to be leaving, but there are new things ahead of you.

When you are the one left behind, it’s really quite lonely.  You see the movers pack up your friends and then you go over to their newly empty house to pick over their perishable foods, flammables and liquids that the movers won’t pack.  The truck pulls away and at some point it’s the final goodbye.  And then your friends just leave. And you go back into your house, wondering if you’ll ever see them again.  You promise to keep in touch (this time!) but inside you wonder if you’ll just end up on the Christmas card list.

It’s going to be particularly hard this time around, since Boo, Pumpkin Girl and Bip’s friends are leaving, too.  Usually it’s just one of us losing a friend when someone moves away.  This time it’s all of us.

It’s going to be tough at first, but we’ve got a Major Event every month for the next 3 months and that’ll keep us distracted and busy until it is our turn to move on.

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