This is our F A R E chart.
At the beginning of the year, we decided that we wanted to try school a little differently (I wrote a little bit about that in our last blog post).
One of the things that has probably been the most helpful in motivating August to do his daily assignments has been this chart that documents daily/weekly progress. We thought that tracking his homeschool progress and feeling the accountability of assessing how he did his daily/weekly assignments could give him a feeling of control and accomplishment over his work and day. By the end of the chart, if he got at least ten weeks filled out, he would be rewarded with a full day of video gaming (V-Day…Mark keeps calling it V.G.-Day; I don’t like it and wish he’d stop), where he could start playing as soon as he wakes up (as opposed to having to wait until after he’s finished the day’s assignments) and be able to play as long as he wants until bedtime. During this time, we won’t interrupt him with encouragement to do something different, feed the pets, or take the recycling out, and his dad and I would wait on him hand and foot from a menu he provides of food/drinks he’d like during that day.
I’ll tell you what, he was pretty stoked about it from the beginning and that motivation and excitement has stuck with him and even grown the more days and weeks he fills in to get him closer to his prize.
As you can see from the chart, we started out a little rocky the first couple of weeks as we were getting used to it but, around week 3, it started to really catch on and knocking out days and getting his F A R E’s for the day has seemed to come a lot more easily.
In case you were curious about how the chart works and what the heck “F A R E” means:
F A R E is an acronym for:
Focus (doing work with as little distraction as possible)
Attitude (having a positive attitude about the work)
Readiness (having motivation and self-start; starting on his assignments without being told)
Efficiency (keeping workspace tidy, following the directions of the assignment, and finishing work in a reasonable amount of time)
I, with my odd humor, thought it’d be fun to try and use the acronym “F A C E” somehow, but it didn’t seem to be a popular choice with August and Mark. :T What would the ‘C’ stand for that would even make sense, anyway…
Anyway, F A R E makes more sense, and can also seem like “fare” for V-Day. I still feel incredibly clever for coming up with it, if it wasn’t obvious by this extremely long post about it.
Every day he needs to be able to fill in at least three of those things before he can fill in the whole day, and each week, he needs to have four days filled in before he can fill in the week box at the end. If he has four daily boxes filled in by the end of Thursday, he gets to fill in the weekly box and has Friday off to do whatever he wants. If he has a little bit of an off week and doesn’t have four boxes filled in by the end of Thursday, he can try and make up for it on Friday.
Our hope is that this chart encourages not only good work habits but also getting along in life habits. While we also believe that expectation can be important in life, we also believe in grace and second (and third…) chances, which is why he doesn’t *have* to have every single F A R E filled in to receive credit for the day, every single day filled in to receive credit for the week, and every single week filled in to earn his prize at the finish line.
We still have challenging days when getting his F A R E for the day doesn’t feel like enough to get him through his work. We remind him and ourselves that we’re just people and people have off days. Part of this process is making him aware, and reminding ourselves, that it’s okay to take time and care for yourself. And sometimes that self-care is necessary on a school day or a work day as life can be unexpectedly crazy or challenging. So, we encourage him to take a break or an off day if he feels like he needs it. Usually, though, a break from his assignments also means a break from video games, which makes doing his assignments the next day all the more appealing. We also try to leave room for flexibility– if we have a day when we can’t stay home to do work and it would be tricky to bring work with us, we have August make up for it some other way like through helping us grocery shop, work on a project, or some other creative way he can come up with. If we have guests in town or take a trip on days he would normally be doing assignments, we don’t require that he do or make up work that he didn’t do during that time. Those unique, somewhat rare circumstances are part of being part of a family, learning, and functioning in life, and we give him credit for those days. The sum of “vacation” or “visiting” days make up a small fraction of the days on his chart so we are happy to give him credit for them.
The biggest challenge with the F A R E chart is remembering to fill it out. It doesn’t happen super often, but sometimes there are days when August forgets to fill out his day and we forget to remind him, then we have to try and remember how he did on each thing the next day. We noticed the best way to remember filling it out is by keeping it visible and not tucking it away in a folder where it’s out of sight, out of mind.
August worked so hard to fill out this chart and get his V-Day, which he is actually enjoying right now! We are so proud of him, and he is so proud of himself. The closer we have gotten to his day, he has gotten increasingly excited. A couple days ago, when we were traveling back to Waco from a quick trip to Houston, he had fallen asleep in the car. He stirred a bit during a gas station stop, and the first thing he said when he opened his eyes was a sleepy, “Mommy! I can’t wait!” When I asked him what he couldn’t wait for, thinking he couldn’t wait to get home, he responded, “For V-Day!” I laughed and asked him if he had been dreaming about it, and he sleepily smiled and nodded before falling back asleep. If you know August, you know that it takes a lot for him to show excitement about something. So, when he randomly said this, I knew it was something that he was bursting at the seams over. He deserves every minute of video game time today. <3 If you think this chart could be something helpful for you, we included a PDF of the file that you are welcome to download. The PDF link is below. It's been a bit modified from the chart in the picture. FARE-Chart.pdf
Would love to know some of the ways that your kids (and you!) are motivated to do assignments or something that requires a little extra motivating.