Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chores at home and their implications to academic work

For Christmas, G. received a fish tank and fish from his grandparents. He is almost 7 now and attends our elementary classroom.  His mother understands the importance of his taking care of the fish all by himself.  Care, feeding and cleaning of the tank will be his responsibility.  His mother might need to remind him now and then but she will not be doing the work herself because what would that teach G.?

In our conferences at school, we often ask parents what chores the elementary children do at home because there is a direct correlation between school work and house work.  The responsibilities that a child is given at home (chores) help to establish a sense of order and peace that the child carries into more academic work.  Chores also give the child a sense of time management, the ability to prioritize tasks, as well as general organizational skills.

I am not talking about basic things like making one's own bed, putting dirty clothes in the hamper or hanging up one's jacket when coming in from outside.  I am talking about real cores - things that need to be done around the house to keep the home clean and tidy.  These might include cleaning or folding the laundry, washing the floors, vacuuming, washing the windows (inside and outside), pulling weeds from the garden, raking leaves, or shovelling snow.

There are a couple of important thing for parents to remember, however.  NEVER redo a chore that a child has completed - no matter how much you want to and DON'T nag.  Take a page out of a Montessori teacher's album - make a mental note of how well the child did the chore  and where he may need more practice.  At a later date, show him how to do the chore again so that he has another opportunity to observe the way you complete it.

Being responsible for various chores at home makes a child feel validated in his role within the family.  That confidence and validation is brought into the classroom without it being a conscious thought.  When I am in the classroom at the end of the day, it is easy to pick out the children who routinely take care of chores at home.  These are the children who begin to clean up the classroom without any fuss or reminders and are often the children who instinctively take better care of their belongings.  Literature tells us that these are the children who, when they  begin to live away from home, know how to wash their own clothes, clean their own rooms and cook their own food as well as know how to organize their studies or work requirements more effectively and easily.