Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Children and Summer

For homeschoolers, summer means little change except that random people no longer ask the kids why they aren't in school. For families with children in traditional school, summer is a massive upheaval. I was looking forward to spending more time at home after our first year in school, but most of the parents I have talked to don't share my sentiment. The two main reasons seem to be an increase in work for the mother, and dealing with sibling bickering.

I won't comment on the state of a society where mothers don't want to spend time with their children. Instead, I'll offer a solution that I have found effective in dealing with both messiness and bad behavior: work.

Free time is a wonderful part of summer, but everything has a time and a purpose... and a limit. Here's how you know your child has too much free time: they complain about being bored. They have time to pick fights with siblings, create mischief, and make a nuisance of themself. They don't enjoy very much and seem way too jaded for their young age.

My children in the summer are expected to do about 20 minutes per year of age in work and 10 minutes per year of age in schoolwork. An older kid should have a volunteer endeavor or a part time job, because you will quickly run out of chores for them unless you live on a farm. So, my six year old has an hour per day of mandatory schoolwork and two hours of chores. I split them up, but she is responsible for: making her bed, picking up her room in the morning, helping me with whatever chores I do that day, picking up in the family room in the evening , clearing the table after dinner, and loading the dinner dishes in the dishwasher. Similarly, my five year old does about 50 minutes a day in schoolwork and 100 minutes a day of chores. Even my thirteen year old works. Schoolwork is no trouble at all; after the tedium of traditional school, our homeschool curriculum is challenging and interesting enough to feel like a game.

Many people are shocked by the idea of putting kids to work. They think it is child slavery. Honestly, it's good for them. It puts the rest of their fun little lives in a proper perspective. The only way to learn a work ethic is by actually working, so I am preparing them for the adult existence that will constitute the majority of their years on this planet. Plus, I can look forward to spending time with them. They are literally no trouble at all; they make up for the extra work of having a house full of children, and they don't have the chronic boredom and dissatisfaction that have became an institution in modern childhood.


Carrie said...

I totally agree with you. Kids should do chores. Not only does it contribute to the overall running of the household, it also teaches them valuable skills.

Emily the Great and Terrible said...

Thanks. I'm glad I'm not the only mom cracking the whip!