Reframing Chores as Community Service
A recent New York Times article, Happy Children Do Chores, caught my eye this week. Here are a couple of quotes from the article that caught my attention:
“One small longitudinal study, done over a period of 25 years, found that the best predictor for young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was whether they participated in household tasks at age 3 or 4. Those early shared responsibilities extended to a sense of responsibility in other areas of their lives.”
“The goal, after all, is not to raise children we can coddle into the Ivy League. The goal is to raise adults who can balance a caring role in their families and communities with whatever lifetime achievement goals they choose. Chores teach that balance. They’re not just chores – they’re life skills.”
As Montessorians, we agree! “Chores” are framed as classroom community responsibilities, tasks or jobs. These are verbally encouraged in EC classrooms and visually displayed in Elementary classrooms; they are also considered part of the Practical Life/Living Curriculum. Older infants and toddlers love to do what they see the adults in their life doing; they just need appropriate-sized “tools” and environmental accommodations so they can help. So…your children have already had “lessons” and daily experience in this area that can be applied at home. It also aligns with helping our children develop into adults who are socially responsible and productive, caring community citizens, which are attributes of interdependence in TMA’s Portrait of a Graduate.
I believe family is a child’s first community and every member of the family should share in the “work” of the family. I also know that community service can be both a requirement and involve a degree of choice; not whether it’s done, but what is done.
Ask your child’s teacher for more information on how the system operates in the classroom, what your child has shown interest in doing at school, and coaching on how to continue this at home. They’d love to share!