Monday, June 15, 2015

Teaching Kids to Work

A couple years ago I read a book with some terrific ideas--The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack. When the author and her husband were raising their sons, they made a list of all the skills their kids would need to be independent, functional adults. They then set out to teach their kids these skills in an orderly, methodical way. Good idea, huh? (You can find her list here.)

So after reading the book and talking everything over with Cameron, we made our own list and created our little family plan for teaching our children to work and (eventually) become functional, independent adults. We call it our learning achievement awards.

Our list is divided into five levels--little learners (roughly ages 3-5), happy helpers (ages 6-8), busy builders (ages 9-11), capable crafters (ages 12-14), and the finishing touch (ages 15-17). When the kids finish a level we take them out to dinner at a restaurant of their choice, just us and that child.

I make the kids banners that hang in our kitchen. We try to help them set a goal every month or so of a new skill to master. After we are convinced that they can perform that particular task independently we draw their little "merit badge" on an Avery label and stick it on their banner.

Realistically, in the short run it is easier and quicker to just do tasks myself. But as our family grows (and our children get older) I realize that I can't do everything myself. And even if I could, our children wouldn't be very well prepared for adulthood. Teaching kids to work is hard work. But they feel good when they can do things themselves. And I feel a sense of satisfaction when I realize that I have taught them and they know how to do the things they need.
Grace (age 2) trying to clean her shoe

Abby (age 4) unloading the dishwasher

Jake (age 6) sweeping the kitchen
Abby (almost 6) deciding a nap sounded better than folding laundry

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