With Back2Homeschool festivities in full swing, it’s a great time to encourage your children to be more responsible both around the house and in their homeschool tasks. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing more and requiring less of them if we’re not careful, and that always tended to be the “path of least resistance” around our house. But that path doesn’t generally take you where you want to be and prepare your children in the way you want them to be prepared.
As you’re embarking on a new school year, try some of these ideas to start fostering the independence and responsibility we all want to see in our children.
1. Make them responsible for maintaining their own space.
Ownership fosters responsibility. When our children know they’re in control of an item or area, they take more pride in what they’re doing. There may be a learning curve when falling down on the job impacts the convenience of others. But that’s real life. The sooner we learn what we do affects the welfare of others, the better able we will be to handle that reality as adults.
2. Don’t micro-manage.
Foster a feeling of pride and accomplishment by allowing them to do a project or chore their own way, even when that way isn’t even close to how you would do it. When chores include ownership, they can graduate from doing it just for the sake of obedience to doing it because it needs to be done. When we hover and question their every method and approach to doing a job, we’re not allowing them to grow into the job at hand. Allow them to try it their way. Allow them to fail if necessary. Edison “found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb” before he found the one that worked. Your kiddos may need to do likewise, and it’s all part of their learning and growing.
3. Have reasonable expectations.
This is a difficult one, especially for those of us who know it would be done quicker and better if we just did it ourselves. Make a point not to merely criticize when it’s not done up to par. Ask them kindly, “How do you think this could be done better next time,” or “Now that you’ve done this chore a time or two, what have you learned that enables you to do it faster and more completely?” Remember that your main goal is to teach them to be responsible and how to handle the task they’ve been assigned. Just like with anything else you teach; you must expect that they won’t get it just right the first few times.
4. Celebrate small victories.
For many of our children, they want to do what’s right, and one of the best ways we can instill confidence in what they’re trying to do is to celebrate the small victories. It’s incredibly frustrating for a child to never feel like he does things right. Many kiddos are completely defeated by a parent’s need for perfection. Celebrating small victories is as simple as noting that the countertops look amazing (“the best I’ve ever seen!!”) and waiting for another day to note that the faucet needs more attention. Encouragement goes a long way towards excellence in all areas. Your child may even take more notice of that faucet the next time knowing that you got so excited about a counter.
5. Teach structure and routine.
As homeschoolers, we have the distinct privilege to order our day and include chores as an educational foundation of responsibility. In our family, we gave each child a set of responsibilities they were to take care of each day. We never called them “chores,” because we were trying to teach them that as a part of a larger group, the family, we all have a responsibility to take care of each other and make our family strong. These responsibilities included each of them having a specific zone of the house that they were responsible for keeping tidy every day. They also needed to keep up with their own personal space and their school stuff. In the morning, they had a morning routine, and after dinner, we did a 10–15-minute responsibilities time where all the zones were tidied up. Now that they’re older, we can have the entire house ready for company from just about any state in that 10–15-minute time frame.
Teaching responsibilities in a heart-focused manner is a great way to prepare your children well for whatever God has for them. As a great plus, it’s a fantastic way to enjoy what they’ve learned even while they’re still at home. If you’re a TTD365 member, check out this video to get even more insight into how we handled responsibilities and our daily five.