Thursday, February 26, 2009

All In A Day's Work

Once upon a time there was a certain 4-year-old boy who complained of nothing to do.

Despite a playroom full of toys, a brother to get into mischief with, he found himself bored.
There was reason to feel sorry for this boy, too.
You see, his mean mother would not play with him all day long, every single day.
She had the nerve to attempt to do other things, assuming her almost 5 year old could play alone for some time, and use his imagination.

The winter months and weather only made this problem worse. It's not like this poor boy could play outside. Too cold, or too wet and muddy from melting snow. One day spring would return...

So what were they to do?

The solution lied in a purchase made last summer: the Responsibility Chart.
If you take a look, you can see that this brilliant chart offers chore-ideas that are age-appropriate, and it's nicely laid out for each day of the week. You can switch out the chores as needed, and it's user-friendly enough for the child to check off himself.

This chart has been a lifesaver for us. I first saw it at my friend Crystal's house. A few months later we bought one ourselves. We got away from using it for a bit, but it's back up and is a nice addition to the home.

Think it sounds mean to have a 4-year-old doing chores?
At first I did.
But then I noticed a change in him. He felt useful and productive, and he was taking pride in his things. The next thing you knew, he was telling me how he wanted to organize this or that.
I love it. :)

We don't have Aidan do a full list of chores every single day. And sometimes he gets a free pass. But on the days he doesn't have a chore to do, he isn't as happy.
I know this is a stage he will quickly outgrow, but we're already learning how important it is to enable the kids to help out around the house, and just how much they can learn and grow from that.

I like what I read here, as it is pretty much my view as well: "The value of chores resides in the lessons learned from accomplishing them: a sense of pride, the development of self-respect and the experience of being connected to others who depend on and value the child's contribution."

So far Aidan is great about getting himself dressed (obviously that one has been for a while now), he does a fantastic job setting the table (see picture below), he makes his bed, most of the time does a good job picking up his toys, and he is usually pretty eager to do his "homework", which is writing practice, flashcards with me, etc.
Just 2 days ago he surprised us and took out the trash-as in the big trash bag from the kitchen trash can. The bag was full, and he took it to the garage all by himself. Nice! We were proud.:)

The last 2 weeks he has been doing his chores without being asked (with a few exceptions;), and he is an eager-beaver to put the smiley face for the chore he has completed.
He does earn rewards, such as a treat or trip to the dollar store at the end of the week, but most days he doesn't even notice, and the rewards aren't a given or always expected.

It's all in a days work for Aidan. Tell me-- do your kids do chores around the house?


Amy said...

I'm embarrassed to say not on a routine basis. We start a chore chart, then life happens and all is forgotten. Maybe it's time to try again?

Modern Catholic Mom said...

This is great! I read something Dr. John Rosemond wrote about making sure that teamwork is taught first in the home and THEN out in the world (soccer, baseball, etc). I love that Aidan feels a sense of accomplishment and belonging.... Liv is only 2 1/2but she helps put the utensils away and all her cups and plates from the dishwasher. She cleans her room (almost) every night... and we are working on other things as she gets older. Great job!

Bethany said...

That's such a wonderful idea! The kiddos at school LOVE to help us do anything-- really, children in general enjoy doing what we consider chores, probably because it helps them receive a little more attention as we watch to see if they are doing it correctly. Let 'em work, I say! ;)

Sue said...

good job Aidan!!!