A product of being on lockdown 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is the ability to see what’s happening within your own family dynamic. Suffice to say, it became quite clear that my husband and I were doing the majority of the chores within our household. Rather than focussing on homeschooling and academics we quickly turned our attention to the inequality and injustice we were faced with.
I complained about this tricky situation to my dad, he reminded me that as kids we used to have a chore jar on the table. Every day, we would pick one or two chores out of this jar a day. Funny thing is I didn’t remember it until he reminded me. My siblings became quite competitive over who tallied up the most chores!
So, afresh with new motivation and hope, I decided to try this chore jar with my own children. I was imagining them both pushing back and whining about the new introduction of ‘chores’. What happened was quite the opposite, they were quite pleased to be given something to do other than figure out how to ‘homeschool’ on Microsoft Teams.
Before long, my son, in particular, enjoyed emptying the dishwasher and my daughter perked up when it was her turn to take the dog out for a walk. It became apparent to me that my kids could be helpful in lockdown and this new structure added to our quality of life. Perhaps we are learning more about life skills and what I came to call ‘life-school’ rather than traditional views of homeschooling?
One day when my daughter (11) pulled out the chore to set the table she said to me; ‘Mom can I help with making lunch one day?’ My inner control freak thought that was a terrible idea thinking ‘She’s going to make a mess, burn it and I will have to clean it up’. But I nodded and said ‘sure’ reluctantly.
The following day she pulled out the box of Annie’s mac and cheese from the cupboard and her cooking journey began. Reading aloud the instructions step by step and carefully measuring, pouring, and setting timers as she went along (and yes there was a great deal of mess in the kitchen). Once finished making the meal, the look of pride on her face was priceless when she handed her brother a steaming bowl of freshly made mac and cheese. This was the first time I saw my daughter cook anything independently in her life. My son gladly wolfed it down with ketchup. A great deal of learning took place in this shared meal.
Perhaps your children are younger and this might be a bit of a stretch as a chore, but I’ve put below some age-appropriate suggestions that you can do with your children at home that I view as life skills as well as educational. Hope you find them useful.
Jade Baerg is a mother of two kids and also the owner of Olive Grove Childcare. Olive Grove is a licensed childcare provider that has four locations that span across the Northshore. Olive Grove subscribes to the Reggio Emilia Approach to learning that children (and adults) learn more successfully when they are led by their interests. More about Olive Grove and it’s philosophy can be found here www.olivegrovechildcare.ca or follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/OGChildcare/