Friday, March 6, 2009

Homeschool Memoirs #28: Life Skills

One of the benefits of homeschool is that you can teach your kids all those wonderful skills that are necessary to living a successful life, but aren’t often taught in a formal “school” setting. Things like laundry, housecleaning, meal planning, tending to livestock, building a fence, and caring for younger siblings. We also have the added benefit that our children become a more vested part of the “family team” when it comes to taking care of things at home.
Tell us about your experience with teaching life skills. Did you have a big family project that provided a wonderful teaching opportunity? What about a home-based business in which your children have helped out? Maybe you have a creative way to get your kids involved in doing laundry. Share what you’ve done or ideas you have. Chores and cooking are just part of life. Our kids will have an advantage being home enough to really get their hands dirty with these seemingly insignificant parts of life that actually are VERY important every day!
I started all my kids out early on chores. In the photo below Jessica is 8 years old and Nathan is 3 years old. They are doing the dishes... by hand... you know the "old fashioned" way. We did not have a dishwasher when we lived in our trailer, and NO it was not a mobile home is was a trailer. 10 x40, two bedrooms, 6 people. Anyway back to chores.

When the girls were little I started with a big piece of poster board and I laminated it and then made picture cards of chores so they could attach them to the poster board with sticky tac as they completed each chore. I had a little girl on the poster board and I had p.j.'s for them to take off and clothes to put on her after they got dressed and put their clothes away. Then I had a mess on the floor and they could take it off when they cleaned up the floor. I had a brush and a tooth brush they could add to the picture after they brushed their hair and teeth. I had a bed and they could add a pretty cover to it when they made their bed, things like that. I wish I had a photo of this to help my kids make something like it for their little ones and to post here on the blog... the girls thought it was fun.

Then I progressed to lists sometimes one they could check off as they did things and sometimes just a list to remind them (and me) of their chore responsibilities. Below you will find some samples of charts I have used over the years. I believe they are in the order I made them though there may have been other things used in between, these are the ones I could find still in my computer.

Now we use the Maxwell's system from their book Managers of their Chores. We love the card system that allows the kids to physically wear the ChorePacks with clasps and move the cards from the front to the back of the ChorePacks. The book also has a great tips on at what age kids can do what chores and spiritual advice about parenting that is great. One of the things I like best is the chore library. A list of more than 180 chores. You can photocopying and print the lists for your own use and in case they forgot a chore that your family needs for your home there are blank lines where you can add things. There are also sample chore assignments from eight families, which are helpful. You can see how other families set up there chores. So please check out their book Managers of their Chores and we also love all their resources and have most of them.

We rotate the chores every 4 months so we have the same chore for a while and this helps the kids to work on persistance with a chore and helps them to imporve in the doing of that chore. My girls cook 2 dinners a week each, I cook two dinners a week and my son cooks one. He needs the training in cooking more than just spaghetti! He is getting to be a pretty good cook. He is 14. My son Christopher is a cook in training and needs some more work on this with me and with his sisters but will hopefully be ready to take on some dinners of his own in another year.

The thing about chores is that work when the kids are young pays off for both Mom and the kids in the long run. Kids need responsibility to learn to contribute to the home, chores can do that. Also children need to learn life skills, both girls and boys. Girls need to be able to keep their own home once they get married and boys need to be able to help if able, when they get married. Also if their wife is sick or has a new baby in the house to be able to pitch in and make meals, do laundry and other needed things, and to know how much work goes into keeping house (and homeschooling too). And, since my kids are older and can help with the chores and the girls are still living at home we can share the burden of cooking and cleaning. It gives them further training in cooking different types of meals so their family does not have to eat the same things every week and it gives them time to further their homemaking skills and if gives them a sense of purpose and a feeling of servanthood to their families to pitch in instead of spending all thier time on themselves.

I hope this helps someone out there. I hope you check out the Maxwell's and their resources and I hope you make your kids do chores.


Rachel said...

These remind me of my chore charts as a homeschooling kid! I'll be using them myself soon enough. . .

naomi said...

we don't homeschool but thanks for the inspiration. I try to have my ds (6) help out with cooking as much as possible, and then do a little drying up too so he sees it isn't all fun! Also at the weekends he has to tidy his room, or strip his bed, which he finds pretty tricky! Also, as I am now pregnant, it is nice to treat him as my helpful little guy and get him to lug a basket of laundry upstairs for me or something. I will remember some of your ideas as he gets older.

Amber, That's Me! said...

This is a great chore chart. We just used a chart for our son since he was successful in staying dry at night and he was really enjoying the chart part of it! I think this would be great for us to use with some chores for him.


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