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Chores - an Opportunity to Serve - Live life with your kids - Issue 116
August 28, 2009
Hi there! ....

This week has been a hard week, mainly due to a migraine which I don’t get very often but when they hit it has its affects. I don’t think I opened my diary once – so who knows what things I missed doing! I’ll need to do a big catch up this morning!

Interruptions like this have very little affect on Jess and Josh study schedule as they are predominately independent and they just miss the few things that I teach into. Nomi and Daniel though are still learning independent study skills and need my input on most of what they do. Therefore their week looked a little different. We focused on their discipline studies – the things that they need to practice each day and need minimal input from me. Nomi has piano, math, writing, and art. Daniel has math, typing, writing and his adventure box. The younger two also worked on the habit (on gaining the habit) of using their diaries to record what they did do during the day.

It is weeks like this that you start to appreciate all the things that our children learn outside of books. I particularly noticed life skills and attitudes. Some areas are doing well, some need my attention. So all in all though my week wasn’t as planned – life and learning goes on.

Live life with your kids!

Chores - Opportunity to Serve

Our children are very involved in the upkeep of our home – they do chores. There are several benefits to teaching our children to do household chores:

  • they learn to work
  • they learn that they belong to a team: the family team
  • they learn to appreciate the blessing of property and belongings
  • they learn that there are consequences attached to their actions (both positive and negative)
  • they learn valuable life skills and with these skills they can bless others

The goal for many people in teaching chores is simply to give their children the life skills so they can be independent and leave home. This is not my goal at all. When I started teaching my children these things my goal was that they would have the ability to see needs and help other people. Imagine the teenager who is babysitting and sees a load of washing that needs to be folded, or dishes that need to be done. Imagine the teenager who can mow the neighbour’s lawn or deliver home-grown veggies to the old lady down the street. These things just don’t happen – they start in the home.

Our children can practice seeing needs by recognising that people in their family have needs and that they are able to meet those needs. Our family is the growing fields for caring Christian community. We need to teach our children to first see a need, to have a heart to meet that need and then the skill to carry it out.

Domestic Blindness
I know men get a hard time for domestic blindness, and I don’t want to go there!! But it truly is a ‘condition’ with our children. They don’t see what you see. So teach them! Here are some tips on how I’ve started to teach my children:

  • Verbalise what you see – if you see something that needs to be done, put your thoughts into words. This is where having our children work along side of us is helpful because if they are in another room – they won’t hear your thoughts and they won’t learn from you.
  • We have a little saying – Leave the room better than you found it. By constantly ‘catching’ our children leaving a room, we can ask, “Have you left that room better than you found it?” Send them back into the room, to do one thing that will improve the room. (Since I’m writing about this I decided to make a prompt sheet. You can download a copy from the Newsletter Download page.
  • Have work patterns – If children get used to running their eye from this spot to that spot, knowing what they are looking for, their eyes will be trained. For example, in the kitchen we start at the stove and look at the bench, from stove to pantry. We are looking for anything that doesn’t belong. If you don’t know if it belongs – ask. These drills help the children start to see the little things that you see so automatically.

A Heart to Serve
Serving another is contrary to human nature. We are naturally selfish and want to ensure that our needs are met first. As a Christian I need to follow Jesus example and this is the standard I want to teach my children: Jesus came to serve – and he said, (Matt 20:26-28) …Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave--just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. God’s ways are certainly different than man’s ways.

Children’s belief system is established on what they see and experience. Therefore it is up to the parents to ensure that our children see serving in action – serving in the family and serving further abroad. Is your attitude towards your family one of being a servant? (This is relevant for both Mums and Dads.) This idea gets lost at times as we are busy training, but we can also serve our children.

Initially our children may not choose to serve, but it can still be the acceptable family standard – we put other people first.

  • Secret angels – this is where you allocate a member of the family as a secret angel of blessing to another member. For example, Joshua maybe chosen as Jessica’s secret angel and for the day Joshua needs to bless Jess without making a big deal of it, and possibly even without Jess knowing it was him. Young kids love this and it establishes a pattern of behaviour for the older kids.
  • Study one another verses – and as you study a new verse each day, each person can decide how they are going to put that in practice. You could even rotate the family around each day so on Monday Nomi specifically loves Daniel, on Tuesday she specifically loves Jessica, on Wednesday she specifically loves Joshua and so forth – and in the mean time the other kids are rotating around the family as well. Mums and Dads should join in this rotation too as it establishes an example and keeps us with the right mindset as well.
  • Help each other with chores – in order to teach responsibility and the rewards of working hard each child has their list of chores for each chore time and if they buckle down and get done quickly then the consequence (positive) is they get free time. But we occasionally have a season where we want to focus on serving one another and I say that for this week, we will all finish our chores at the same time. If you finish your chore early you can help someone else. I need to be extra vigilant here because human nature (sin nature) steps in real quickly and some can choose to go slow so they (a) get help from someone else and (b) don’t have to help another. I think we know our kids and know when this is happening. The idea of having this season isn’t just for the fun of it – it is to specifically address these selfish tendencies so when we see these go-slow tactics we need to deal with it!

Mastering Skill
There are three steps in teaching a new skill (teaching anything actually but since we are talking skills lets focus there!) Teach – Practice – Expect

  • Teach – We need to take the time to break down the skill into little steps and to teach each step. I remember even teaching my children how to hold a sponge in order to clean the bathroom sink. Break it down. Be patient. Be friendly. Take it slowly. Don’t give up. Stay beside them.
  • Practice – Just telling our children (or even showing them) once isn’t training. We need to give them lots of practice, and often with little tweaks or corrections here and there. I don’t mean discipline correction but to correct their ways, to correct how they do it. Practice, practice, practice. At this stage we need to still be beside our children. They may be doing most of the work, they may have it mostly down pat, but we are still training and they are still practicing. The more you can inspect what they are doing the more opportunities you will have to help them get it right.
  • Expect – This happens after they have got it. They have been taught and they have practiced. Now they can do it. Now you can expect it to be done right. You still need to inspect their efforts but you don’t need to be beside them, come back after they say they are done. You can either praise for an effort well done or you can give consequences if necessary.

Once our children start to see that others come first and that they, even as children, can serve other people, we need to give them plenty of opportunity. Opportunities abound to serve others – at church, at the grocery store, at youth group, at homeschool co-op – wherever we go. One family friendly opportunity is when we go visiting family or friends. Challenge your child to see something that they could do for the family you are visiting – it could be doing the dishes, looking after the little ones, or helping pack up the toys.

Let serving others be a hallmark of your family.

Website Updates

Have you seen my new e-book? Heart Focus Parenting - A heart focused parent will keep their attention on their child's heart for God, instead of on external behaviours.

Do you read my blog? Live life with your Kids Blog is where I jot my thoughts throughout the week and share things happening in our family. You are welcome to visit!

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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