Updated: Feb 5, 2021
When I finally saw it click
This will not the most polished piece that I offer you. It's late at night. I'm tired, but I am content listening to the boys playing the Wii with Daddy upstairs after a long work day. It's late, but we can sleep late. Because...homeschool. (perk)
One of my first reservations to homeschool was the social aspect (or seemingly lack of). We are doing The Good and The Beautiful curriculum this year (which I am enjoying, however I don't have any other experience with another exclusively homeschool curriculum). There were a couple of quotes I read on their homeschool blogs that resonated with me. One noted that the type of socialization received in schools is not always the right kind (for example, the Jenny asks, please point to which hallway behavior you would like your child to pick up). Another gentle piece of advice said that socialization comes from sharing chores in the home. I pictured Little House on the Prairie. I am glad to live in the Amazon age for sure!
At first my husband grunted at this. Chores equaling socialization. What? I felt like this is an experimental year anyway, lets see. (2020)
Since my oldest was tiny, we were doing chores together. I made him fold laundry with me, unload the dishes, scrub toilets, pick up toys. He is 7 now, and we do frequent "bathroom checks"; if I walk by a messy bathroom, I yell, "bathroom check" and he comes to wipe the counter, pick up towels, check the toilet for cleanliness or eeek.
When his little brother got old enough to toddle along and understand what's up, I would say, "Take your brother with you, help him see how to help you". He is 4. They do different tasks together. For example, I do their laundry once a week. I have bins with lids on them and their names marked so that when they pick up their clothes, they are sorting them for me as they put them away (automation/delegation, moms!). Then, they have 2 colored coded baskets from the Dollar Tree with handles on them - I let them pick these out one day so they own this part of the process by making color choices. When I fold the laundry (and I can do straight out of the dryer because it is already sorted) I slip it in the baskets and they actually seem to enjoy skipping them upstairs to put in their drawers. The older one helps the younger one. I have more time to read about the nerdy things I enjoy (anything Ancient Near East related or from the Bible Project, or self-help related - I just got hooked to the Headway app).
I got tired of sitting at the homeschool desk today - and maybe one day I will share shots of the classroom with you here because it is the cutesiest, and it helps to have a dedicated space for school time. I hopped up and began to vacuum, and asked the older one to please unload the dish washer (another tip - put the dishes down low, and let your kids put them away for you).
What I heard take place was gold! Finally, all the reminders, redirections, refolding, … all the time it takes to teach how to clean instead of just doing it on my own or ignoring it, seemed to pay off. And it also seemed that homeschool blog was correct.
They were making a short pass off line for spoon storage. My older son figured out that he could pass off utensils and his little brother could put them away. I heard him say, "See, Alan, it goes like this. Let me show you how." Alan followed directions, and with only a couple of redirections from silliness needed, I had an empty washer ready to load.
As they were chattering about how to put things away, and how to tackle the living room toy and pillow situation I directed them to remedy, the blog points came to mind.
Chores done in the home and together teach children:
responsibility, a sense of value and accomplishment, capability, having a skill to teach and model, being part of a working team, and problem solving.
What I heard today was balm to me, really. None of parenting has been smooth or predicable, and I have held on the hope that with repetition, results would come. On top of that, I am learning that children learn so much of their social skills at home with the family unit. (Also, Its been great that I focused on the older child when he was really young, teaching him chores, and now he is doing at least 3/4 of the reteaching for his brother). It means so much to make time to play games, cook together, clean together, run errands, read, and exercise together. By partaking in these necessary and healthy rhythms along with me, they see what it means to be a healthy person and how they can be a part benefiting from that, not just by receiving but through working out contributions amongst themselves to carry out the tasks I set for them. They feel belonging, function, power, and pride.
I don't worry so much anymore about the socialization part. I know eventually we will make our library trips again, be present in our church, and enjoy meals out as we used too. As of now, I see that they are exhibiting certain social skills that I do want as I observe them at home, and getting in as many small party playdates as we can (which I enjoy too). Now the manners... I have to get better at that. I'm not divulging which one burped during a show and tell Zoom today. Sheesh.
For your reference:
** I am not paid or asked to post about any of these resources, I just genuinely like them and wanted to share.