Well, the first several weeks of our summer homeschool schedule are under our belt and they went pretty well. You may recall that I wrote in a previous blog post about how this summer we planned to have a Life Skills Boot Camp of sorts for our boys.
The First Week of Boot Camp
The first thing we chose to focus on was personal responsibility. This means that our boys weren’t given any additional chores above and beyond what they’re already expected to do; however, they were now expected to do them without reminders.
This system depended on four things:
- We gave them the specific chore we wanted them to do.
- We gave them a deadline.
- We posted our expectations on the refrigerator.
- We checked to see if they had completed their chore by the deadline each day.
The Results of Boot Camp
I would love to be able to tell you that my boys started doing their chores without any reminders from me. That certainly wasn’t the case. Having a deadline did help, however. When the deadline came and went without their chore being done, I would remind them to do it just one time. Then, they were better about doing it right away versus before when I might have had to nag all day long to get their chores done.
Rather than focusing on getting chores done without reminders, we decided to spend this summer teaching our boys the various aspects of completing each chore successfully.
We want to make sure they understand how to do ALL of the various chores around the house so that someday, when they are living on their own, they’ll know how to do everything from cleaning a toilet; to making a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich; to string trimming the weeds around the garden.
After they have mastered all of the life skills we want to teach them, we can start to work on having them do them without any reminders. We’ve decided to tackle one thing at a time.
Even though chores aren’t getting done without any reminders, there are a lot of life skills being taught around our house. Here are the steps we’ve found which have worked well for us while preparing the training:
- Determine which area you’d like to focus on first (i.e., kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, meal preparation, handyman skills, etc.)
- Break down that area into different teachable tasks.
- Choose which tasks you will teach that week. Don’t attempt to teach your kids EVERYTHING about meal preparation in one week. Go slowly so that you don’t overwhelm them!
- Give your kids a deadline for when you’d like them to complete each task and post it somewhere so that everyone knows what is expected.
- First, show your kids how to do the task by having them watch you do it.
- Next, let your kids attempt to do the task with you by their side.
- Stay available as they continue to learn. This takes various amounts of time depending on your child’s age and confidence level. As they become more proficient, you can begin to walk away and let them handle more and more of the task independently.
- After completing this process, you should be able to count on your child doing his or her chores correctly and without help.
It’s important that you ignore any initial groaning which may occur. This will disappear as you persevere.
Another other huge tip is to try to help your son see how valuable it will be for him to be able to master these skills. Remember to express appreciation for all of their hard work. And if you can figure out a way to make the chores fun, that’s even better.
I’ve been amazed at how open my boys have been to learn these new skills. They are eager to wake up and make pancakes and bacon for themselves for breakfast. (Of course, they compete to see who can make the best pancakes!) They willingly head out with us to string trim and do other yard work. One of our sons has started mowing areas of our yard which my husband used to handle so that he doesn’t have to do that anymore. They are beginning to see the value of pitching in around the house to get the work done.
My husband has done an awesome job of helping our boys realize that if they help us by working hard, then we will have more time and energy to play hard with them. He has been taking them to the basketball courts to play just about every night. They’ve enjoyed this time with him immensely.
Running a life skills boot camp around here this summer has been extremely beneficial for our family. Although it does take some extra time and effort to get started initially, it will have a very quick payoff for the whole family. Last weekend, while the whole family was doing yard work together, my husband and I were marveling at how much work we were able to accomplish since there was basically THREE of him working out there (plus little old me.) 🙂
Question: Are you intentional about teaching life skills to your children? Have you run into any snags along the way? Do you have any other tips you could share? Please leave a comment below.