So the chores list has evolved again. Instead of a schedule so much, I changed it to more of a list, with the same number, roughly, of chores and schoolwork activities on it (although that will soon alter, as well, since Matt's about to deem the children the official Daily Cat Litter Scoopers, as soon as he does a few days of litter scooping lessons).
After debating for quite a while, I also tied it to their allowance, in that completing the list of chores earns each child one dollar in her hand, and one dollar put away to save for Walt Disney World (do not even get me started about this, please). It's not an ideal solution to the allowance situation, but 1) I wanted the girls to perform work in exchange for their money (mean Momma, I know), 2) they don't care enough about money to do extra work to earn it, and 3) I want them to have money regularly, so that they can experience saving and spending it (and so I can have a good reason to tell them to stop griping for stuff in stores), so I needed to tie it to work that they were already expected to do, basically. If they ever get motivated enough to complete their entire responsibilities list every single day I may have to rework the system, because that's more cash than I'm willing to put out, but for now it works well.
Each child can complete her list at her leisure, coming to me when she wants to do a project that requires an adult's help, but if she takes longer than one day to finish all her responsibilities (and she does), then on the second day and thereafter she can no longer have access to her media entertainment--no computer, no TV choice, no music or audiobooks. She can still play pretend ponies for four hours at a time, for example, but no Usborne Quicklinks.
The girls can still choose to add their own things that they want to do to the list, of course, but we're on a tight budget, so they can't add something like getting ice cream or going out to eat, for example, but the Wonderlab, the public library, and playing Quirkle are all fair game.
The last change that I've made is that although I still assign projects for Syd to do with me or ask her for suggestions or give her choices, Willow is now responsible enough to choose her own schoolwork subjects each day, and think of a project that she can do on that subject, and complete it with or without my help, as necessary. So when she added "coral reef sketching" to her list, she helped me clear the living room table to use as a workspace, got out the crayons while I got out the drawing paper (mental note: need more drawing paper), did a Google Image search with my supervision, chose the coral reef images that she wanted to copy, and got down to work:
Syd, of course, is not to be left out of any activity. She sat down and chose to sketch her toy cat:
A masterful representation, don't you agree?
Will created at least a dozen different sketches of different coral reef scenes that she found via Google Images. I was surprised, however, to see how impressionistic each one is. This, for example, is a reef scene that includes a starfish:
This one included a large brain coral and a school of colorful fish:
Each image that she drew from was teeming with color and life, and so it's fascinating to me to see how she distills each one:
Although I recorded this activity under Science and Art in Willow's records (the requirement for record-keeping isn't clearly laid out in Indiana law, but I do know of one couple who went through a lot of very upsetting hassle because of their lack of records, so I keep them), it's one of those projects that is so clearly her own that I really don't know what she got out of it, exactly. It would be easy to look at these drawings and think that she'd just put in the bare minimum of effort, but I saw her carefully select each image to copy, study it thoroughly, concentrate on every line in her drawing, and most importantly, I saw how proud she was of every finished sketch--clearly they are masterpieces in her eyes, and therefore they're clearly masterpieces in my eyes, as well.
It's one of those projects that helps remind me how important it is for my children to own their own educations. If Willow hadn't completely owned this entire coral reef sketching project, from start to finish, how would it have ever come to be?