Hallelujah!! I have found a new weapon for my mom arsenal. While I am a firm believer in family dinners, and we strive to sit down together as much as possible, I also realize that the dinner table can be a source of parental stress for me. From the start, my kids have been raised with an expectation of polite manners and conversation at the dinner table. I expect them to remain seated, behave like normal human beings, and ACTUALLY EAT THE FOOD!
Lately, my kids have left a lot to be desired. Some nights I feel like I am playing “Whack a Mole”, with all 3 of my kids randomly popping out of their seats. Other nights, it’s the “I don’t like this” chorus. (This is a whole other blog post in itself!) As a working mom with little time, energy, and patience, I was at my wit’s end…until I discovered one of the greatest educational/parental tools on the planet!
If you are not aware of this web based tool, allow me to introduce you. Class Dojo is a free website for teachers and school professionals to create behavior tracking plans though interactive media. I was first introduced to the dojo plan through my daughter’s second grade teacher. My daughter is delighted by her little monster avatar and the tally of points she is accumulating. As a mom, I am delighted by the weekly report that I receive via e-mail.
So, here we were, happily progressing, watching Amelia’s dojo points grow, when the light bulb went off. I am a teacher. I have a master’s degree in education, and I have extensive experience with behavior modification. Why can’t I use this at home to improve my kids’ dinner behavior?
Feeling like a rock star, I set out on my quest for dinner sanity. I went to www.classdojo.com to create an account. I first set one up for my real classes, as it is an awesome educational tool. Then I registered as my kids “teacher”, and I used the very easy interface to develop my “dinner dojo”. Each of my kids were assigned a little monster avatar (the symbolism is much appreciated). Then I customized the behaviors to suit my dinner needs.
Positive Behaviors: helpful, good manners, cleaned up, stayed seated, positive conversation, ate well, tried new foods, made healthy choices.
Negative Behaviors: disrespect, out of seat, rude behavior, wasted time, not eating, negative language, made a mess, not a helper.
This site is so easy to use. Once you set up your account on a computer, there is an app, so you can control it from your smart phone or tablet! Yup, that’s right. This momma broke the “No Technology at the Dinner Table” rule and plunked the iPad right in the center of the table. What resulted was one of the nicest dinners we have had in months. Not only did everyone eat, stay seated, and clean up after themselves, but we were able to have meaningful conversations that felt like real connections. I hope that this new tool can help us get back on track to peaceful dining.
If you think that this app can save your sanity too, here are my tips:
- Go to www.classdojo.com
- Set up an account as a teacher. The parent option only allows you to see your child’s progress in a specific classroom.
- Use the great tutorials to help you navigate and create on the site.
- If you have tech savvy kids, give them the student code so that they can check their own progress with their own account.
- You can also share the parent reports with other meaningful adults (the other parent, a grandparent, or babysitter)
- Expand past dinner. I also have a general expectations dojo for my kids. I chose to separate the two because they have to earn good dinner dojo to get fast food or other less nutritional treats.
I really urge you to try this tool. If you do, please report back and let us know how it works for you. Hopefully we can restore peace and sanity one dinner table at a time J