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.