Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting Children to Earn Their Keep

Last week we got an e-mail from our almost fifth grader's teacher about supplies he could use for school such as a wireless mouse, flash drive, ear buds, folders, notebooks, dry erase markers, pencils, pens, etc. I went out and bought the stuff, but thought, now why should I just give this to him? I decided he should earn it. So, I put the items in a box, and on each item I put a sticky note with a small chore such as walk the baby around the circle in the wagon five times, or clean the baseboards in your bedroom, or dust the ceiling corners on the main floor, or straighten the books, or clean out the silverware drawer. He's been so willing to do these jobs because he's really excited to get all this new stuff.

The thing that surprises me the most is actually his ability to work.  I've grossly underestimated his attention span for work.  When he's motivated, he's motivated!  He's gotten so many of the little things done that I've wanted to get done so quickly. I'll need to apply this concept to school clothes, I believe!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Providing Work Opportunities for Children

Yesterday I had the chance to go to the dry-pack cannery to get some food storage.  Another family brought both their teenagers and their little kids (3 under 8?).   Somehow I became supervisor over the kids, and rather than than working at canning food myself, I looked for jobs for the children to do. Mainly, I found they were good at rolling the cans from the upstairs of the cannery down the can chute to the main level, then they carried the cans to the different canning tables so the people doing the work there wouldn't have to come get the cans.  It worked pretty well, but still there wasn't quite enough work to do.  The kids were loving it and even one of the girls said, "This is the funnest job I've ever done!"

I saw some of the adults sticking labels on the cans, and I thought, what little girl wouldn't LOVE to stick stickers on cans?  So, I took her over to the lady at that station and asked if the girl could stick on stickers.  The lady responded, "But then I won't have anything to do."  I smiled and mentioned that I'm not doing anything (canning labor) either, just "supervising" and suggested maybe she could do the same.  The little girl joined up and was able to help.

I must interject here so you don't think the woman I was talking to doesn't like kids or something.  She's a great lady with 3 of her own children and always willing to serve, so please don't think I'm criticizing her.  I just think that as a whole, as I pondered on my way home, that we get overly concerned about getting things done or looking/being productive ourselves rather than allowing children, who are often just as capable, to do it.

I know I am completely guilty of this.  For example, I could have my kids clean the bathroom, but if I do it, I'll be faster, do a better job, and won't have to hear the whining!  But, when I do that, I'm stripping away the opportunity for the kids to serve and learn.

So my goal from this experience is to remember to let kids help!  We need to create positive work experiences for children.  We need to work with them, and surely their attitude toward work will be positive.