Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Housekeeping Class

Ages 5+

This is the sequel to the LEGO Art class.

I have a great appreciation for fine art and education, but I believe a man (or woman) isn't truly educated until he knows how to do mundane, basic, everyday work. If you can do the mundane, you can do the brilliant. When one of my kids asks for permission to go play, I used to say "is your homework done?", but that really bothered me. Homework is only about third or fourth or fifth in priority.

What I wanted to say was, "are your chores done?", but they didn't really have chores. So I assigned a few, only to discover they never did them, because they didn't really know how. Also, there never seemed to be a spare minute to show them. So now that it is Summer, I can finally truly educate my children.

My new class that started when LEGO Art was over, was "Housekeeping". The preparation phase was about 20 minutes. I took a blank piece of paper and jotted down all the housekeeping jobs that my 6 and 8 year old are capable of doing. The final list had 63 items. I starred about five of them as being a bit too complex for my children to master at this age and saved those for the end of summer.

Then I told my kids that we had a new class called housekeeping and that it would last for two hours each day just like LEGO Art. I showed them that I had a list and asked them to each pick a number. This was a novelty-- chores where you pick a number between 1 and 60? And so it began.

The first item picked was
"How to set everything on the table for dinner that is needed for salad."
I showed them where salad greens are kept, where the salad condiments tray is kept, where the salad dressing is, the vinegar, and oil. Five items. They had to memorize them and then they took turns setting the table for salad as fast as they could. Then as a bonus, they learned "how to put salad away". Housekeeping class is all about training. I show them carefully exactly how to do stuff and then we practice, practice, practice. Sometimes my kids love housekeeping and sometimes they hate it. It takes a lot of energy and when I don't feel well we don't get it done, but they are learning a lot. So far we've done about 40 of the items on my list at least once.

I never know what housekeeping adventure will come next. I've kept my list a secret and its always luck of the draw. My kids did have a tendency to pick 1-10 and 50-60, so halfway through the summer I had to renumber the list to mix things up a bit.
Some days we are in the kitchen, other days we are in the bathroom or cleaning in other various rooms of the house, but its been amazing to see my kids' housekeeping skills blossom.

Another amazing thing is the whining and excuses. I've heard a lot of it. I'm "the meanest mom in the world!", Am I trying to make them puke? I'm a slave driver! I'm lazy and never work myself, etc. On the other hand they brag to their friends about the things they have learned and on the occasion I had a friend join us for "housekeeping" the friend had a blast. I believe we were cleaning butter knives that day and he thought it was hillarious that we kept making the knives dirty on purpose just to wash them. Then we broke cracker crumbs and put them all over the table with peanut butter blobs to practice washing the table. We did it again and again. Yep he thought I was bonkers. So then it was off to scrub bathtubs and clean carpet stains. It was high entertainment and he said he'd be willing to join anytime.

Well, I had other plans for the summer that we never got to, but this has been a good one so I thought I would share.


Becky and the Boys said...

Wow - you are the best mom ever! I should have been doing this; maybe there is still time.

Just Me said...

Good ideas Regina!

Andrea said...

That's a great idea! I'll have to try it out.