It is much easier to start off right, than to suddenly switch an older child to independence and responsibility when he isn’t accustomed to it. In other words, the full independence and responsibility is easier grown into than thrown into, so to speak.
So. What can small children do?
This will vary by child, but in our house, a child generally begins gathering his own supplies in preschool. O-Age-Five has a drawer containing all of his preschool books. He has his alphabet binder, his Jesus Storybook Bible, and a big stack of picture books, all in one place. When it is time for his lessons, he knows what to bring.
My AmblesideOnline students have their books and supplies on a shelf that they can reach. They each have a spreadsheet listing out their week’s work. When it is time for their lessons, they get out what their spreadsheets say they need. When a child cannot read, this means that I read the spreadsheet to her, and then she goes to retrieve the necessary books.Once a child can read, I expect all the supplies to be out and ready when it is lesson time.
So. What does a Year One student get out, on an average day? A pencil, an eraser, a clipboard (with spreadsheet and copywork and math sheets all attached behind), wrap-ups for math memory practice, and two or three books. One of the girls is also responsible to bring a die for group narration.
As the children get older, there are more things to gather, so this “job” naturally grows with them.
So let’s say the children have gathered all their supplies, and all the lessons are done. Now what?
Well, if your house is like my house was for a number of years, all the children hip hooray themselves out to the backyard and Mom is left in a Pile of School. Papers everywhere. Pens and pencils and erasers and at least half a dozen books. Everywhere.
The nice part about having children get all of their supplies out is that they know where to go to put them back. And really, putting something up when you are done with it is a good life lesson, right? So, every little person who got their stuff out can put it back.
Of course, this will only work if Mom supervises and holds the children accountable for actually doing it, but you get the picture.
Getting themselves prepared for lessons — and being responsible for cleaning it up and putting it away — seems like such a simple thing, but I have found that independence tends to grow organically from these sorts of small responsibilities.
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