Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teaching Responsibility, Part 1

One of the things that I want to work on in 2011 is teaching my older children more responsibility. They already have a few small chores they do, but I would like to expand upon that a bit and train them in a few new things now that they are older. As a mom, I naturally find myself trying to do everything. Often times, it is just easier in the short term to pick up after them rather than take time out to have them work along side of me. It takes extra time and patience to gently train and direct the children to do chores,
but in the long term, it will be worth it.  
It goes beyond having a tidy house,. I think it's important that children learn to take care of their property, to work together as a team with their family,to follow direction, and to have a helpful, cheerful spirit while doing so. I also want them to have a sense of pride in a job well done.The foundation for their future life as an adult is being built right now. It must begin early on. I cannot wait until they are teenagers and then wonder why their rooms are disasters and they do not know how to do simple household tasks.
I'm supposed to be raising children--not little piggies!
What better place to begin learning about responsibility than on the home front?
This does not mean that my children can never take toys out or make a mess in the course of learning, creating, and just being kids. My goal is not to have a spotless house that looks like a show room. I have three small little ones and it would be unrealistic to expect perfection (in fact, as I type this, I am surrounded by a Lincoln log village and a Hot Wheels parking lot! :) ), especially since we are homeschooling.
I don't think that means we have to live in a constant state of dirty chaos, though! No, every nook and cranny of my home is not necessarily organized the way I would like it. There are usually some crumbs under the table. I struggle to keep up with the laundry.
Yet, I do want our home to be comfortable, welcoming, reasonably clean.
A happy sanctuary to those I love.

Like with many things in life, it is all about balance and attitude.

I often forget just how capable my children are, how much they can actually do. They continually surprise me with something new that they learn how to do for themselves. The two older ones love tagging along with me as I go about the housework and they seem to derive a sense of satisfaction to be involved and feel like they are a big help to our whole family. Some of the best conversations I have had with the children have happened while we were working on something together.
They are at that young, impressionable age where work can actually be made fun!
Although the oldest two are only 3 and 5 years old, some of the many things that they can do are: dusting--an old, soft sock  worn over a little hand is a great way for them to help polish everything on their level...especially baseboards (they like to see who ends up with the dirtiest sock or dusting rag)! We got a small hand vaccum a few years ago that is light enough for them to handle and actually use. They like to vacuum under their beds and other places that are hard for me to get at with the regular sized vacuum. Setting the table, clearing the table after a meal, putting away silverware, and helping me cook and bake in the kitchen are other things that are a good way to include them. In the laundry room, sorting laundry is excellent practice for grouping colors and types of like items together...great way to capitalize on those teaching moments! Then there are the little daily things such as making beds and cleaning up toys when done playing with them. Even little Ethan is learning to put his blocks away in the bin before his afternoon nap.
It's so cute to see his older siblings encouraging and cheering him on.
So, even though my children do already know how to help around the house, I want to get a better organized system of chores in place, especially now that we are doing more structured homeschooling. I have come to the conclusion that we need more of a direct, visual course of action: chore charts.
 I want the children to get up every morning and know what their responsibilities are for the day. This will keep us on track with our daily routine much better. Of course, it won't be a set in stone schedule since life is full of the unexpected. The chore charts will serve as a guideline to our day but won't be overly rigid.

I am going to focus this week on working along side the children and introducing a few new things that they can try doing, then beginning the chore charts fresh on Monday morning. I will be writing a post with an update on how the new system is going in a week or so. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works for us!

In the meantime, I must go and wash the dishes --even though I don't feel like it! I would honestly much rather curl up with a book and some hot tea.
But, after all, responsiblity must first begin with the parent. :) Good night!

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