While unschooling means free spirited learning, sometimes we like to give order to chaos. Our daughter (who is now 7) gets to do whatever she likes whenever she likes. I wanted to see how she would react if we gave her a task list.
We decided to write down a list of things which she can try to do everyday. The list has 7 items which she has to do everyday. It does not matter when she works on the tasks, but they have to be completed.
It was all done on a lighter note. There are no consequences for not doing, nor does she get anything by doing all the tasks. I dusted up my old drawing skills and made what you see below on a sheet of paper for her. We handed it some 6 months ago and I am going to relate you the story of how it panned out.
The tasks were intentionally mixed. Some are silly and easy to do, while others will require some effort. I will go over each of them and why they found a place in her list. Then I will explain if this had any impact at all on her. First off, she loved the task list. May be she liked the drawings, or colors (I let her color the teddy) or may be even the tasks. I don’t know for sure. She ran with the sheet and promptly stuck it on her wall.
The tasks need not be done in that order but we based it on our daily schedule. In the mornings, after breakfast we like to stroll around on the road in front of our house for some sun (read vitamin D). We try to do it again in the afternoon too, but not all the time. We want her to soak up the sun. What better way to make her do it regularly than by giving a task she can check off easily? This task she followed and still follows religiously.
Our daughter likes to try her hand in cooking once in a while. There is less of cooking and more of making a mess if you know what I mean. So, we wanted to make it a habit — no, not the mess part, I mean the cooking. If she can also pick up growing fruits and vegetables, I think she would have learned some good skills. Anyway, she helps in baking brownies or making phulkas. On odd occasions she even cuts some vegetables. In reality this task did not fly as a daily routine. She certainly does more kitchen work, but not at all to my standards, which are very low to start with :).
There are some disadvantages of early retirement. One of them is that my kid expects me to play with her all the time. As our girl is growing up, we want her to spend time by herself. We want her to get bored so she can use her imagination. Until she was six, we used to spend a lot of time playing with her. Unfortunately that does not give much time for her to think by herself. I don’t want to be the one asking her “what do you want to do next”? She should be able to figure out things to do when no one is there to keep her engaged and hence this task. It worked well. On most days now she would play by herself for a couple of hours without depending on us using her imagination.
The next task is tablet time. Yeah you heard it right. I want her to enjoy sometimes doing something fun. She has a tablet in which she watches YouTube videos or plays games. I may be in the minority wanting her to use technology. Most including the wife, don’t like the idea :). But I want her to use the technology that she is going to grow with anyway. My only wish is that she shouldn’t get addicted, and that is all. This, as you can expect, is not a real task. It is something that happens everyday anyway. She is always happy checking off this task.
Another habit we wanted her to pick up is helping some one. Not necessarily helping family members but anyone. Once in a while she helps in cleaning the stairs in the house. And hence the drawing of her cleaning the stairs in my drawing. She loved it! She said it looks very real. In the meantime I am a proud father :). The execution is what I call as below average. She sometimes helps in the household chores. Sometimes helps her friends. But she could do much better in this department.
Drink more water
At the time I was making this task list, my daughter used to make some weird noises in her throat. Some neighbors observed it and said “may be she should drink more water”. Although I don’t buy these ideas, I still added the task because, well, drinking water is not a bad idea anyway. She still does not drink enough water. So this task is a bust.
Kids will be kids and hence there is really no need for this task. But I added it anyway just for fun. She might enjoy that we expect her to be silly. One day I was setting up a long row of dominoes (not to be confused with the pizza joint) for her. But she kept on tipping the dominoes before I was done setting up the whole thing. That is how the silly time came to be, along with the drawing of her naughtiness captured. This task she does everyday, multiple times, without fail.
That is the story of the task list. She does not check her list anymore. The fun faded away in a couple of weeks I think. But some habits stuck. So that is something :).