One way to prepare our children for freedom is to teach them to work. When teaching children to work, it often feels like it would be easier to do the work ourselves. It is! But teaching children to work does some pretty important things for them.
Skills are always valuable and they transfer with a child as they grow and start their own adult life. Simple things like how to make a bed, wash and care for clothing, vacuum and sweep, wash dishes or load a dishwasher are skills even a small child can learn. These skills enable an adult to practice self governance, too. They can be responsible and independent with these skills.
Cooking is an important skill that most of us seem to have missed out on. Not only is cooking your own food less expensive than microwaving a store bought dinner, it is also more satisfying. Cooking is a skill that children can learn and develop and that every adult is served by having developed.
Teach a child how to care for things. Teach them to keep their shoes clean, laced up and ready to go. Show them how to oil a chain and pump a tire on their bicycle. Teach them to check the oil, change a filter, check air pressure and change a tire on the family car. All of these are valuable skills an adult needs and a child can learn over time.
Think about the first time you tied your own shoelaces successfully. There is a sense of independence that develops. A child recognizes that they don’t have to depend on mom or dad for everything. This independence, this freedom, is also a form of self-reliance.
When children learn to work, they recognize what goes into running a household. That prepares them to be adults, but it also gives them a perspective as a child to see how the world works. Food is grown in a garden or purchased from the market. The food is worked for or paid for. The food is brought home and stored in a refrigerator or cupboards to protect it. The food is washed, cut up, cooked, or otherwise prepared for people to eat. Then, after each of these jobs is done, it is finally shared with the family. Even a trip to the grocery store, engaged with our child regarding what we are buying and why, is an opportunity to teach them about the work involved in running a household. Shopping is a chore, right? Kids need to learn how to do this, too. When a child participates in each of these processes, they learn that the process is something they can do on their own. They also recognize the value in a prepared meal or snack, even a simple one, because they helped get it to the table in some way.
As a child learns a simple task, say bringing their laundry to the washing machine, it prepares them to understand the sorting process. Then they can be taught the workings of the washing machine: settings, adding soap, adding the right amount of clothes and running the machine.
One of the simplest jobs my mom gave me as a child was to clean the lint trap of the dryer. Children are excited and willing to learn and help. When we take advantage of that, we serve them by helping their development and sense of belonging and contribution. Eventually our children learn the whole process and are able to run the laundry from dirty clothes to fresh clean clothes hanging in the closet and neatly folded in the drawers. This IS easier for parents!
When children have learned these adult skills, they become self-reliant. These skills also open up the door to other interests. Who doesn’t know at least one person interested in automobile repair because they were taught to help maintain the family car when they were young? My mom taught me to sew when I was young, not only to repair clothing but to create my own clothing. I still love to sew and have my own sewing machine. While I don’t sew for a living, I do sew for enjoyment. Creating something useful for myself and others brings me joy! It also allows me to repair my clothing or tailor make something for myself.
Back to teaching a child to tie their shoe: have you seen a child who has just learned to tie a shoe excitedly help another child tie theirs? This is because of the thrill they get from being able to take care of their own needs. This boost of confidence makes them willing to help others.
When we teach children to work, they are excited to share what they can do with others. This willingness to work not only serves our children but our families and communities, as well. Whether they work at a job or vocation or they volunteer their service, our children who have been taught to work continue to make the world a better place as they grow. Children who are taught to work are practicing freedom principles. When they grow and continue to practice freedom principles, they help freedom to spread to others.
Take the challenge: What skills are you teaching your children? What adult skills do you know and what do you need to work on? Want my list of adult skills that my husband and I want to teach each of our children as a reference? Sign up for my newsletter to receive a pdf copy of this 6 page list!
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