Written by contributor Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
Housework and homeschooling. Those two words don’t always go well together. While my family does employ a chore chart that has served us for many years, there are also weeks when we’re so busy all we have time to do is “dump and run.”
Afterward, my house can look like it’s been hit by a tornado, stressing my clutter-free-loving soul.
It’s at those times that I may institute a life skills day.
This means my kids are going to get an up-close-and-personal lesson in vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and general housework.
It may sound like a homeschooling cop-out, to some folks, but I’ve found that some pretty valuable lessons can be learned during a life skills day.
1. Household Management
First and foremost, taking time to learn basic housekeeping prepares my kids for the day when they’ll manage their own homes. Teaching my boy to do laundry and cook? Yeah, my daughter-in-law is going to love me someday.
Instead of cramming Home Ec into a semester or two when my kids are high school age, they’ll learn important, but often overlooked household management skills over the course of their time at home.
2. Attention to Detail
Sometimes kids – and adults – rush through a job to get to something more fun. It’s amazing how fast my three can finish housework on life skills days versus other days when I give them an hour to complete assigned chores before we start school.
In the rush to completion, attention to detail may be lacking. Lucky for my kids, I’m around to inspect their work – and require them to re-do it when it’s sloppy. They quickly learn that it takes much less time to vacuum the living room properly once than to re-do the job three times.
Life lesson: Your sister might be more willing to pick up her mess in the living room so that you can vacuum, if you gather all your stuff so that she can dust.
Bickering only complicates matters, an observation that may come in handy at the office some day.
Photo by Darwin Bell
Cleaning toilets isn’t fun, but the whole bathroom looks better when it’s done.
Doing the hard (or just boring) tasks teaches kids they can enjoy the sense of accomplishment from a job well done even when the job isn’t fun.
Straightening up a seriously cluttered bedroom has to be one of the most intimidating tasks for a child, but it’s great for learning organizational skills.
Sorting Lego pieces, K’nex blocks, and action figures is great practice in categorizing for a younger child. Not doing so is a valuable lesson in the importance of organization for an older child when he’s looking for missing pieces.
Today it’s Lego blocks and action figures; tomorrow it may be important documents and misplaced, overdue bills.
6. People Skills
Putting three kids to work on a toy-strewn playroom quickly teaches the life-lesson that you’re not always going to get along with the people you work with. They may not do things the way you like them done or, worse, they may be content to sit back and look busy while you do all the work.
Dealing with siblings who are driving you crazy – but whom you really do love – is great practice for dealing with people who just drive you crazy. It’s an opportunity to learn diplomacy, tact, negotiation, and conflict resolution.
So, you see, those days we’re tackling a messy house really do have value beyond maintaining Mom’s sanity.
Do you take an occasional life skills day? What practical lessons do your kids learn?