Do Your Dots

When my daughter, started school, I made her a chart with everything she needed to do in the morning. There were 12 things on her list. I thought it would be satisfying to earn stickers as she completed the list..I was wrong! The list was overwhelming and now she didn’t want to do any of the things! Thus a new approach was created, and “Do Your Dots” was born!

I limited the things I wanted her to focus on to four things. This was do-able and we made it fun. Each of our kids now has a small 3 x 5 inch chart of “dots” to do each morning before school starts. Each of our charts has different dots that are unique to the person. For one child whose morning struggle was hair styling, “Brush Hair” became one of her dots… each chart was individualized to the person. (possible dots: brush teeth, play piano, get dressed, do job, make bed, go to the bathroom, etc.)

With this approach, the chart tells the kids exactly what I expect of them every morning. All I have to do is say, “Do your dots!” and they know exactly what needs to be done. The chart becomes the master and we cheer each other on to finish before the school starts.

Now days, the kids are older and we still do our dots!

Here is how we do it:

1. Each person has a 3x5 card with four dots and a reward. (At our house the reward is electronics—computer for entertainment, tv, gameboy, etc. after 4p.m. & school work is done) The dots are unique to each person, but the reward is the same. I sit down before each school year and discuss with each child what they think their dots should be…and we come to a mutual decision.

2. Mom sets out the cards on the counter the night before and the jar with dots (our dots glass beads or anything that jingles) and the “DONE” jar.

3. Kids know what is on the chart (when our kids were small we had pictures) and they can do each dot INDEPENDENTLY!

4. As the kids do their dots they drop the beads into the “DONE” glass jar.

5. If you do not finish your dots, the glass bead does not go into the “DONE” jar. The child does not get the reward for the day.
a. *on our 3x5 cards, everyone has the dot “JOB”. This is their allowance job and they get paid at the end of the week for doing it. If they do their job, they mark off on the Allowance Chart. If they do not do their job before school, they do not get paid, or the reward. They still have to do their job before the next meal—they do not get to eat until their job is finished.

6. When the “done” jar is full (after about 1-2 weeks and longer as they get older) we celebrate by having a special family activity. As the kids got older, we started to take out the beads and sort them into different colors. We’d graph them then roll the dice and the number was how many cents each colored bead was worth. We added up the beads and took the money and did something as a family! (it’s usually enough for a gallon of ice cream!)

This has been one of the most effective things we’ve done in our family. Kids know what to expect. Every time I think we’re too old or we can do without “dots”, I am mistaken! Even I do better with a morning routine and a deadline. We do dots Monday through Friday. During summer vacation we continue dots but change the time of when they have to be done.

We have night time dots too…but the reward is reading with Mom or Dad, This chart hangs in their bedroom and is done on a personal basis.