One of the benefits of being a homeschool mom is having a built-in work force. Our kids all started helping out as soon as they could walk. Their first chore was picking up toys. By age two or three, they had a list of jobs they could do and were expected to do regularly. Now, as elementary aged kids, they are all expected to care for their own selves in the areas of personal hygiene, clearing the table, keeping their rooms tidy, and picking up after themselves. In addition, they have set chores and are expected to help out with other jobs as needed.
Kaytie, aged ten, cleans the kids' bathroom daily. She has a list on an index card to remind her what to do. She is also the assistant chef, making lunch when I am otherwise occupied, baking lots of goodies, making pancakes, and helping out when I fix supper. The next big thing on her list of "What I Want Mom to Teach Me" is how to do the laundry. She can vacuum, sweep and mop, but these are not yet on her regular list of chores. Her favorite chore is dusting.
Nate, aged nine, is learning how to mow the lawn. His personal chore is keeping the table and chairs wiped down. He likes to bake, but has little interest in cooking. He can also vacuum and sweep if need be.
Daniel, seven, is solely responsible for feeding the dog. And Abbie, at six, keeps her water dish filled. Both of them love to dust, can fix their own sandwiches, and are learning to vacuum.
I start them out on simple jobs, then, as they grow, I promote them to harder work and pass the easier stuff down the line. Our training method is simple: as I am doing the job, I call them in to watch and we discuss what is required to complete the job properly. After a few times of this, they do the work while I supervise. Finally, I leave them to do it. But, we have learned the hard way that if the kids get even a whiff of an idea that I'm not going to go check the quality of the job they will start sluffing off so fast it will make your head spin! So checking their work is on my list of things to do.
We have a lot of jobs that they rotate. Each week they draw cards to see which part of the house/yard they are responsible for, then each afternoon they pick up that area before snack. Dishes are another rotating chore, of sorts. I rinse a load, which Nate loads into the dishwasher, which the boys unload together. Then Kaytie rinses a load, which Daniel loads, which the girls unload. I wash all the pans, and Abbie dries them and puts them away. When it came time for Daniel to learn to load the dishwasher, I had Kaytie teach him, reinforcing it for her and exposing him to the idea that we can learn from everybody, not just Mom.
But there is also a lot of work that we just do together. All five of us can clean the front part of the house in 30 minutes flat and the entire house in under two hours. We also do laundry together. I start it washing, the kids rotate it, I fold it and they put it away. When I cook supper, the kids help out, fetching and toting and stirring and prepping. They also work together to set the table, a habit so ingrained that they can do it with very little input from me.
The kids don't get paid for doing this work. Although sometimes their dad will offer them money to do extra stuff around the yard. We believe that "if a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat". But also that contributing to the household makes for confident, capable, happy kids. I cannot keep the house running and be an effective teacher and a happy mom and wife without their help. We all work together to make a clean and comfortable home for us all to enjoy.
Come back tomorrow when I'll be talking about our menu.
Friday I'll share our laundry method.
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