"I did not have all the advantages your kids had," a woman told my husband. They were having an honest conversation about work. The woman shared what a hard time she has in life, bumping along from one part-time job to another.
She has an education, but as Luke explains so well, education does not guarantee you a job.
So what advantages did this middle-aged woman lack? What can we do as parents to help prepare our children for productive work and employment? This certainly doesn't cover everything, but here are three tips:
- Actively teach the skill of punctuality.
This woman has lost many jobs because she can't get to work on time. As I understand it, her parents never got anywhere on time. She never learned the skills and habits of punctuality.
I believe we can actively teach children how to show up unflustered and on time.
Consider this tip: When you have to go somewhere, you probably work backward in your mind to determine when you have to leave. So why not share this process with your kids? Simply think out loud in front of them.
You could say, "Well, we have to be at the co-op tomorrow morning at 9:00. It takes 20 minutes to drive there, so we need to leave at 8:40. We need 5 minutes to get out the door and packed into the car, so we should all be ready at 8:35. Our morning Bible reading takes 20 minutes, so we'll sit down for that at 8:15. Showers and breakfast take an hour, so we should get up at 7:15."
My mom says that even when she's running late, she hurries so much that she gets there in time. She watches the clock and says, "ok, this is taking longer, what should I cut so that I still get there in time?" This is another process you could share out loud with your kids.
- Show that work is not a 4-letter word.
We live in a society that encourages us to get out of work whenever we can. We essentially hear the message "Wow, if you can scam the system and stay home and watch TV all day, you've won!"
But I do not agree with that. I'm here to tell you that work can be a good thing. I believe we are created for work of all kinds – from employment to parenting to cooking. That's why we get satisfaction from it.
Even before the fall, Adam had work to do. If someone just sits at home watching TV all day, he probably has an emptiness in his soul that can only be filled by productive, strategic work.
All of my kids are good workers, and I attribute that in large part to the fact that they learned from a young age that work can be a fulfilling and good thing. They all worked at Sonlight from the time they were little, counting out and packing up Science kits. Let's help teach children the satisfaction of a job well done.
- Teach kids to think and learn.
Sometimes employees can get in the mindset that simply showing up at work is enough. But for most bosses, that's not enough. At the Sonlight office, we honor and reward people who think big-picture, who step back and come up with more effective ways to do their job. When the management team makes a decision that an employee doesn't think is best, we want that person to speak up and say "No, I don't think that's a good idea, and here's why."
My hope is that Sonlight helps you raise kids who can do just that. We're not training our kids to do the bare minimum and give the answer the teacher wants. We're raising them to always keep learning, to step back and think critically about things, to consider different sides of an issue and develop their own ideas. Those skills will serve students very well when they move on from school to the work of being an adult.
My grandson Isaiah eagerly learns to smooth concrete on his family's farm.
What do you think? What can homeschool parents do to help their kids grow up to do great work?