Thursday, August 15, 2013

Life Skills Learning

Pillow cases are tricky.
This week has been a slow warm-up for the schooling year. I made a very sparse schedule knowing that we had to adjust to our new classroom environment, attend Fire Safety Day Camp, and begin a new chore chart plan that I have been meaning to implement for what feels like forever. This week it finally became reality!

Our daily homeschooling schedule works like this. Mornings are for free time. This can include reading, games, or playing outside, but not television or computers. We also complete errands, or other away from home activities. We generally eat lunch close to noon. Then the boys have one household job they must complete, either dish washing or vacuuming the kitchen and dining room. When those are completed, we move downstairs to our classroom and have anywhere from two to four hours of more structured activity. Evening hours are generally taken up by family time or other scheduled away from home activities.

The boys have always been expected to make their beds, take care of their own messes, and put their laundry away. Keeping their rooms clean wasn't a high priority. The mess would build until I had enough and declared it time for a cleaning day. I  would occasionally ask them for help with other jobs around the house, but not on a daily basis. Over the summer, I made up a list of jobs I thought they could do with a little instruction. I didn't want too much to start, just a few new responsibilities. I had a talk with the boys about what days of the week they would have the most time available to do these new chores. We decided splitting the work up over three days would work best. Each of those days would have a specific job for each boy. They would do the same jobs for a month and then the jobs would rotate.

Monday was day one of the new process. JT was assigned to straighten up and dust the living room and hall. EM was in charge of vacuuming the area. Because they already know how to use the sweeper, EM was able to do this new job with no instruction. JT has never done a lot of dusting, mostly because of his allergies. I handed him a Swiffer and went over the idea of starting in one corner of the room, moving around the outside edge, to end with the furniture in the center of the room, always working from top to bottom. He did a fairly thorough job.

Wednesday was the next day chosen for chores. This day would present a new challenge. Even though they have always made their own beds, they have never had to take off the sheets or put them back on from scratch. They stripped the beds and delivered a pile to the laundry room. Later in the day, I took them into my room to show them how to make the bed. After the demonstration, I sent them to their rooms to see what they could do on their own. There were a few difficulties, but over all they did fine. In fact, EM didn't want to sleep in his bed that night for fear of messing it up.

Tomorrow will be the final day of new chores this week. Both boys will now be expected to clean their rooms every week, including running the vacuum cleaner. Needing to sweep the floors will ensure that all the LEGOs are actually picked up and not hiding under the edges of furniture.

As time goes on I plan to add a job here and there. Their daily after lunch chores have been part of the routine for about a year now, and rarely require a reminder. I'm hoping the new jobs will soon be part of our typical day. JT and EM both approached the new responsibilities with a positive attitude. They were pleased with the results of their labors. Hopefully that positive attitude will continue and even be transferred to other areas of their lives...maybe even school work?


Annie said...

I recognize those sheets! I just packed them! :)

So, what do the boys "get" for helping around the house? Mine seem to think it's a God-given right to get something in return for doing their fair share around the house. I suspect you can guess my opinion from my phrasing. :)

Cyber Momma said...

They get to live here and enjoy the house. :-) I regularly point out that my husband and I do not get paid to take care of the house. In fact, it costs us money to do it.
That said, if they help with a special project that takes a lot of effort, I might pay them something. Also, my parents pay them for help with yard work at their house.