Thursday, January 27, 2011

Teaching Responsibility

Lately I have been thinking about the need to teach my boys some basic life skills. Things that aren't necessarily taught in a 'school' environment, but are concepts they need to succeed in adulthood. This was first brought to light a month or so ago when I placed a pile of laundry on JT's bed and asked him to put it away.
"That's why I'm really looking forward to getting married some day. I'll have a wife who can do that stuff for me." ?!

My husband is not extremely domestic, but he certainly doesn't treat me like his servant. I'm not sure where this idea came from...but it must be fixed!

We have given the boys a weekly allowance for a couple years now. This is a cash allowance. We do not expect the boys to work to earn it. We do not take it away as a punishment. This is simply cash they are given to spend as they will. We encouraged them to devise a budget for their money when we first instituted the process. They both set some aside for savings, some for church giving and the rest is their spending money. They have both set goals for things they would like to buy (almost always Lego sets!) and met those goals with diligence. I have felt that this plan has allowed them to learn how to handle cash. It has also shown them the value of saving for something you really want to have.

Each of our boys has responsibilities to carry out on a daily basis. They both must make their beds, take care of getting dirty clothes in the laundry, clean off their place mats after each meal and pick up toys. Beyond this, we really don't have a set list of jobs for them. That is about to change...

My husband and I are putting together a list of chores that we feel they are ready to tackle. This has brought about some feelings of resistance on my part. I am a bit of a clean freak. Since we started homeschooling, I have eased up a bit in my cleaning fanaticism . I no longer have a schedule for my house cleaning, which used to include things like when to clean out cupboards and closets. Allowing the boys to clean the house will mean it might not always meet my standards. It is going to take work on my part to teach them how to do it right. In the beginning it will add more work to my days. But I know it's the right thing to do. I want their future wives to be happy women!

Once we decided we'd like to put a chore list together for them, we knew we'd need a way to track the jobs. I didn't want a list or chart...they need to be updated when they are completed. I wanted something re-usable. I don't like the white board idea...too easy to smudge. Then I thought of a plan. We are going to put each chore on a 3x5 card and place it in the 'to-do' basket. When the job has been completed, they can move it to the 'finished' basket. Simple, yet perfect for our purposes.

Another plan in the works is a bit of cooking instruction. JT requested a 'cooking class' this week. Both of the boys help me in the kitchen from time to time, but I've never made it into anything organized. I am going to put an outline of basic cooking skills together, including menu planning and shopping for meals. I have a few kid's cook books lying around the house that have easy recipes and definitions of cooking terms in them. Seems like a good place to start.

Overall, I think homeschooling is really the best place to accomplish the teaching of life skills. Schools don't seem to have the time anymore for such supposedly non-essential classes. Testing has pushed this kind of learning to the sidelines. My own experience in school was enriched by my home economics classes. I took every cooking class our high school offered. Even in middle school, I loved the class that was called, "Creative Living". We learned to sew and cook...boys and girls together. I don't think I remember much from middle school classes except: how to make french toast and how to make a pillow with a ruffled edge. I believe those are the skills that will make our lives richer and more satisfying in the long run.

1 comment:

Annie said...

It's pretty amazing when you think about all the things we homeschooling parents are responsible for imparting to our kids. In addition to all of the normal things a parent hopes to teach, we took on their academics as well. Every now and again, I suddenly think, "Oh gosh, we need to cover that, too!!"

I like your ideas for responsibility. We do it a little differently. Like you, we don't pay for chores around the house. This includes feeding the indoor and outdoor animals night and morning, washing dishes, cleaning their rooms. (I can't bring myself to turn over the laundry yet though.) Those are part of the price you pay for living in a group. You have to contribute your fair share to upkeep.

As for cooking, the boys often make their own breakfasts and lunches. They can make scrambled eggs, pancakes, toast, mac and cheese, turkey burger, etc. Thanks to their dad, they are pretty good bakers as well.

We don't give our boys an allowance. We do, however, encourage them in any way we can to earn money. If they crush and collect cans, each one gets the money they earn. This summer, I let whichever boys wanted to work, sell my used books on They had to log them in, set the price and handle the mailing. We've told them over and over, that if they have an idea for a business, we will support them in any way we can.

We also opened savings accounts for each boy and showed them how to read their bank statements. We often get questions about interests rates, etc.

It seems to be working for us. The oldest saved $30 in his room. He asked me to take all but three dollars to the bank. The three was his spending money. :)