We have seen how visual management can be helpful for ourselves, as adults. And I can remember bulletin boards in my elementary school classrooms with big monthly calendars, a spot for today’s weather, the daily schedule-all in very colorful, visual formats. So I wondered if it would be helpful for a specific problem we were having.
Abraham has a weekly calendar that utilizes visual management already. He really seems to find it helpful and enjoys moving the star each morning to the new day and seeing what we have planned for the week.
So, the problem was that we (I) had gotten into a habit of letting him watch a lot of videos, or at least more than we wanted him to be watching. He is still pretty limited on the screen time he gets and what the content is. But basically any time he asked to watch a video, I saw 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to get dressed, catch up on dishes, eat my breakfast, etc. Which is great and all, but we just felt like for our family and our goals and values we needed to set some limits on video watching with Abraham.
We decided three videos a week was a good place to start. I made three small yellow circles that say “Watch One Video” with a star in the middle. (Yes, I realize we call them “video stars” but they are really circles with a star in the middle.) Each Sunday we move the three video stars to the wall next to his calendar.
“Videos” are what we have described to Abraham as “short”, meaning 30 minute episodes of Daniel Tiger or Reading Rainbow, etc. “Movies” are “long”, meaning full-length movies. Movies are extra special and we really try to limit those to a specially planned family movie night. Or like last week when he was running a fever and laid on the couch basically all day.
The big difference between videos and movies in our house, besides their length, is that he can request to watch (up to) 3 videos each week and Ben and I decide when a movie is appropriate. He will often ask to watch a movie, but our response is usually, “That would be really fun. We aren’t going to watch that movie today, but maybe sometime soon we will have a family movie night and we can all watch it together.”
So every Sunday he gets three video stars. He can choose (for the most part) when to watch them throughout the week. We still get to decide if it is a good time to start a video. (Not at 8am when we have to be at school in an hour, etc.) And he can’t watch more than one in any given day. When he uses a video star he moves the token to the day he watched it so he knows it has been used and that he can’t watch another video that day.
I would say that for the most part he does really well with this system and understands. Having the physical tokens that we move from the wall next to his calendar (their “holding place”) to the day he watches a video seems really helpful. And giving him a choice about when to use them will surely start to help him make decisions and learn a little about delayed gratification (or…the pain of using up all your video stars before the week is even half over and not getting to use one later in the week when he really wants to.)
It sort of has be wondering what other areas of my life I could employ visual management to limit “fun” things like watching tv, time spent on facebook, and things of that nature.