November 18, 2008

Training Them to Work

I decided recently that it was time to assign jobs to the kids. Up to this point Katrina has been a half trained jack of all chores - with minimal proficiency she can do basic jobs such as folding laundry, putting clothes away, picking up toys, etc. She has been more an overall helper but with no real purpose. Alex has been coasting comfortably through life, being asked to help with toy clean up at most.
Many people I have talked to say that silverware is the first job they give their kids. As they are unloading the dishwasher, the child is set up with the silverware rack and the drawer and it is their job to put it away. I tried this - Katrina wasn't bad at it but it didn't seem in any way a help to me. If she was to do the entire dishwasher, that would be a different story. But to give her one section of a job didn't seem to make sense to me. If I am going to take the time to train the kids on a job, I want it to be a job that benefits me not just a job to have a job.
Alex seems to be last at breakfast so it seemed natural to have him in charge of putting the cereal boxes away. In most houses this probably wouldn't be a large task but for some reason Justin and the kids need to make cereal mixtures in the bowl so there are 2-5 boxes out every morning. Alex has been in charge of cereal for two weeks now. At first liked this job. I think then he realized that it is his job not an option and suddenly it wasn't as fun but today he turned around and did it quickly with enjoyment (and a little help from Katrina).
The question of what job to give Katrina was still stumping me until yesterday. Then I figured out something that would be both do-able for a three year old and helpful for me! I decided that she was going to be the dirty laundry collector. It is actually a two step job. The first part is to go room to room, collect up any dirty clothing or bedding (if it is a change the sheets day) and throw them down the stairs. This is the fun part. Then once the clothes are downstairs, the second part is to drag them to the washer. This is the not so fun part.
Yesterday was day 1 and part 1 was was accomplished with little resistance. Once the clothes were downstairs in a heaping pile, moving it to the washer was a struggle. At one point Katrina was lying in the pile content to stay there for ever if it meant not having to carry anything else the 10 feet to the washer. The entire process to about two hours. Yes I could have done it all in about 15 minutes but I reminded myself this is the training processes.
So today after breakfast I announced it was job time and off we went. Katrina went upstairs to begin. I fed Max while she got started. I went up stairs and checked her progress. She had gotten the clothes out of three of the five rooms before getting sidetracked - not bad for day 2 I thought. She got back on task and the rest of the laundry came tumbling down the stairs. Now came the dreaded part two. To my surprise this only took a few minutes. Yes, there was not nearly as much to move as the day before but she seemed to get the concept of finishing the job so she could go on to other things.
We'll see how the rest of the week goes!

1 comment:

eb said...

Nice creative parenting! Hope it continues to go well. I read an article about large families a while ago, and it seems like the kids usually learn to contribute more and earlier. I'm hoping we can instill the habit of doing household chores in Ian even though he is not part of a big family -- this is something I wish I had had more of in my childhood. Good luck with the laundry, Katrina!