Teaching homeschool kids about hard work
Teaching kids the value of hard work..
Yep, that’s right. I’ve never forced Jaiden to go to school, do formal school work, and he’s never done a test or project in his life. But here I am, about to write an article on teaching kids the value of hard work.
The surge in home education has resulted in more media coverage, and of course the keyboard warriors come out and voice their opinions. “What irresponsible parents. We all have to do things we don’t like, these kids will grow up lazy and live off the Government” is one such comment. Do we, as adults, really HAVE to do things we don’t like? Nup…
Making decisions is a part of life, in fact the average adult makes over 30 000 of them each and every day. Needless to say, decision making is an important life skill. Once we leave school we decide if we’ll attend university or get a job, or we can do neither. Some of the above decisions can lead to a career, a steady income and a comfortable life, whilst another may see someone end up homeless and relying on a food bank for their next meal. Extreme examples, sure, but you get the point. In reality, we’re not forced to do anything as adults, we’re free to make choices, but we must accept the consequences. Ultimately, we trade our time and energy for money, which we then trade for stuff. Be it a house, a car, or a new phone. We make the choice to ‘do hard stuff’, and are rewarded accordingly.
Now, just because Jaiden isn’t forced to do school work it doesn’t mean he’s void of all responsibility. If he doesn’t satisfy the requirements by the Home Education Unit to provide proof of his learning, he knows that he will become de-registered and this will result in him having to attend mainstream schooling. The reward of travelling and homeschooling serves as his motivator to complete the ‘work’.
He also has chores that are his responsibility. If he doesn’t wash up the dishes he’s well aware there will be no plates for dinner. This may seem harsh, but I have served up dinner right onto the table-top, just to highlight the outcome of him deciding not to do the dishes. We’re a team and we both have responsibilities to ensure our teams success. He has a choice not to do the dishes, just as I have a choice not to cook dinner, both with their own consequences. Whether it’s being able to continue home educating, or having a plate to eat dinner from, he has choices and is rewarded accordingly.
But what if he was an adult, and faced with the choice of spending all day working in return for an income, or spending it doing whatever he pleases? Well, Jaiden was given that very choice. As an 11 year old boy, he decided not to spend his days playing with kids on school holidays. Instead, he chose to start work in often sub-zero temperatures, working for 5-8 hours a day, with temps barely hitting double digits, for 21 days straight. He decided that his time was worth trading for financial rewards. He spent the school holidays helping out by sweeping and mopping amenities, running farm tours, preparing food for animals, opening / closing gates, assisting with moving sheep, putting saddles on ponies and even taking kids on lead pony rides, as you can see by the pic with the adorable little Natalia who visited a couple of weeks ago.
Not only that, he took it upon himself to ensure the kitchen bins were emptied, and the toilet rolls and soap dispensers were re-filled. He wasn’t forced to do anything, in fact I gave him the choice to go off and play but he decided to work, and reap the rewards. He had days where he didn’t want to get out of bed and face another icy morning below zero, but when I gave him his pay for the week he was the first to admit the hard work was totally worth it. Whilst the motivator was money, he was also motivated by positive comments from guests who commended him on his hard work. I even received a message from a guest stating that her son was so inspired by Jaiden’s hard work, that he’d started asking for more jobs to do around the house. Each and every comment resulted in a huge grin on Jaidens face, and increased his confidence.
Teaching kids the value of hard work doesn’t result from barking orders, demanding conformity, or threatening punishment. On the other hand, I don’t think it comes from allowing children to live a life void of all responsibility. Neither approach results in kids learning about the value of making good decisions, or hard work. Rather, they’re more likely to result in a child that avoids all responsibility, feels helpless, which often results in rebellion at the first sign of effort. Developing decision making skills takes time, and practice.
Ultimately, I believe the only thing we need to teach our kids is the importance of decision making. Allowing children to make their own decisions empowers them and gives them a sense of independence. It develops their decision making ‘muscles’ by allowing them to experience the consequences and rewards. The more a child experiences good and bad consequences, the more likely they are to choose a path full of positive rewards, rather than negative consequences.
So whilst I have never forced Jaiden to do school work, he’s anything but lazy. Rather, he’s developed work ethic by being given the opportunity to make his own decisions. The only thing that makes me happier than seeing him so keen to work and use his initiative, is seeing his face light up at the reward for all his hard work.