Saturday, December 18, 2010

Family Work Time

We are still seeking our ideal rhythm here at Jammies School.  Or, perhaps, I should say, Mommy is still seeking the "right" balance of fun and work... productivity and pleasure.  To that end, we have begun including "Family Work Time" as a part of our Morning Rhythm.

This idea was seeded by cyber-friend, Shannon, from the Reggio Inspired Toronto yahoogroup I belong to.  Shannon is not only interested in Reggio, but also in Thomas Jefferson education -- an approach that is now on my list to look into further at some point.

In one of Shannon's posts at our yahoogroup, she explained how her boys attend to Morning Cards that  she has made, which include personal care things (such as breakfast and getting dressed) and simple family contribution chores (such as feeding pets, putting away flatware, etc.).  As they do these tasks independently, she moves through her own morning chores, such as laundry and kitchen tidying.  Then, together, they begin Family Work to get needed housework done, all while teaching responsibility, the value of hard work, stick-to-iteveness, how to work through interpersonal problems, how to care for a home, etc.  During this Family Work time, they typically attend to basic household maintenance, such as floors, bathrooms, windows, cleaning the car, etc.  And, they sometimes tackle deeper cleaning -- such baseboard cleaning -- when the rest of the house is in decent shape.  Cooking also plays a part of their Family Work.

While the Morning Card and Family Work ideas are not a revolutionary concept, for some reason, the way Shannon framed it clicked for me.  I like the idea of her Morning Cards, which are very concrete and provide accountability - somewhat like the Morning Routine cards we used to use.  They encourage independence and personal responsibility.  I also like the idea of the Family Work Time following independent tasks-- to encourage team work and a time for mentorship.  Thus, we are borrowing and adapting Shannon's ideas.

For Family Work Time, basically,  every morning for 15 minutes or so, the kids and I (and Daddy when he is home) work together.  At first, we do the same tasks in the same room together (with tasks and rooms changing daily).  As such, Daddy and I guide the kids every step of the way in learning how to do particular cleaning and maintenance tasks.  Then, once the kids show they are adept at these, we stay in the same room doing other tasks while the kids enjoy their new found capabilities at the ones we have taught them.  That way, we are present to help if need be, but also encourage the kids' independent contributions to a team effort.  Eventually, we hope to lengthen our Family Work Time and become able to be in different rooms, doing different tasks, as need be, but all enjoying the satisfaction of working as a team to keep our home clean and welcoming.

So far, it is going well.  Although, admittedly, we have yet to get in the groove of actually doing this every morning, and Nina is a more willing participant than Luke on the mornings we do participate in Family Work Time.  That said, Luke loves spraying and wiping, while Nina likes helping with most things and has almost mastered vacuuming all by herself, even with a vacuum bigger than she is.  Yep, the other day, Nina watched me vacuum, asked to do it together and, then, confidently requested to do it on her own.  What joy she demonstrated as she pushed the heavy vacuum over her bedroom rug and how proud I was!

Truly, Family Work Time is something we can delight in.  It's great to work together toward a goal, talking, learning and laughing (okay, with some balking from a certain 5-year-old) along the way!


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