All families are a social group that must learn together to get along, care for each other and serve one another. The family is God’s plan for each of us. A place where we learn how to serve one another as Jesus served.
Whether your homeschool family is a very tightly scheduled one or if you are more relaxed, you definitely have “structure”. Designating jobs or chores to family members helps to reinforce that structure and teach family members the lessons of servanthood. Homeschoolers have a special need for a structured day and designated chores for all family members, especially during the school year. With a family of children, Mother and often Father at home all day most of the year, there are new challenges to be met in the way of keeping house and organizing.
Early on in their life, a child should have two things introduced to him. The first is the Name and Person of Jesus Christ and His Word. The second are the lessons of servanthood by having assigned duties in the home. The child should not be able to remember later in life when he began to learn of either of these.
A small child of 12 months to 18 months can help in the household. Granted the help is for their own benefit at this time and not directly for the family. But the child is learning the foundation of servanthood for his brothers and sister, Mother and Father.
Until we have an understanding of the Servant Mindset, and the example of Jesus as the Humble Servant, we cannot begin to understand the necessity of teaching our children at this early tender age about being a servant. Having the servant mind of Christ allows God to work in our lives and through our lives in mighty ways. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5.
Jesus…”made himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant” Philippians 2:7.
The three qualities that are most necessary for a servant mind are these three that we see in Jesus; submission, lowliness, and willingness. However, there are 14 characteristics of the Servant Mind as exhibited by Jesus. These are from the book The Mind of Christ by T.W. Hunt.
- Not Quarrelsome
- Able to Teach
- WiseLooking at this list you may first declare that we frail humans can never accomplish them in this life. However, remember that you have the Mind of Christ, and His mind will accomplish these in you if you are willing.
These are the characteristics which can be layed as a foundation in our children’s day to day life. When they arrive at a point of accountability to God and begin to live a life in Christ, they will already have the benefit of being taught Christ-like behavior and thought.With the understanding of why you are assigning chores to your children, to teach them the Christ-like mind of a servant, you can now begin to exhort and encourage them in their daily tasks instead of driving them and scolding.
Discipline is neccessary, and often the child must suffer the consequences of his wrong behavior. However, we are to train them to be a servant by exhortation, example and encouragement. So cheer them on, and tell them how pleased you are with their service. Work with them, side by side and show them how to do a task. One day they will be our fellow servants in the King’s service!Children are capable of so many tasks at early ages. Somehow, in our age of complacency and easy living, we have begun to believe that we should free our children of the menial tasks of daily living. How completely tragic for our children and we parents when the children are demoted to the role of play-thing or pet. How sad when we deprive them of taking a role in the family that is important and essential.I do not recommend that you require your child to do every one of these tasks listed on this page at the same time. Simply that you cover each task and see to it that your child has a working knowledge of how to accomplish each one. Your child must be taught these tasks, not simply turned loose to do the best he can without instruction. You may find that you have to be by your child’s side for many weeks working with him at a task before he is ready to do it on his own.
Small children have a helpful and sweet nature that can be used by Mothers to begin the process of teaching the servant heart and mind. Here are a few things that a 12-18 month old can do, and can continue on with these things up til about 3 years when more tasks can be added.
- Go and get items as directed
- Fold wash cloths and dish towels
- Put items in a drawer with help
- Set his own place for meals
- Pick up and put away toys with help
- A child this age can be encouraged to voice his own prayersFor the 3 to 5 year old, many possibilities are opened up for service to family members. This is also a good age for beginning to teach the child to take care of many of his own personal needs. Include the previous tasks for the 18 month to 3 year old also.
- Dress himself
- Fold up and put away more complicated clothing
- Set table
- Take dishes to sink after meals
- Clean up small messes from floor
- Feed and water pets
- Take out small bags of trash
- Make bed with help
- Stack up books and magazinesAt the ages of 5 to 7 years a child really begins to be a help to the family and begins to see that he is indispensible to the harmony and happiness of the family’s routine. This is the time when the child learns most of what it takes to run a household. Include the previous tasks listed.
- Make bed by himself
- Change sheets on his bed and for others
- Do his own personal care routine unsupervised
- Fold blankets
- Sort laundry, load laundry with some supervision
- Fold towels and some clothing
- Sweep and mop small areas
- Dust furniture
- Hang shirts on hangers
- Make rolls and biscuits from dough
- Pick up and straighten
- Set out plants in the garden
- Weed garden
- Water garden
- Harvest from garden
- Bring in wood
- Labeling food for freezer or canning jars
- Some sewing and embroideryBetween the ages of 8 and 12 years a child is capable of taking on many more responsibilities. This is the age when boys begin to feel protective over their Mothers and sisters, if it has been instilled into them, and when they are most likely to want to be outside instead of inside. Provide opportunity for your sons to have outside chores, however, do not neglect the inside chores.
Begin to allow a few choices to your daughters about meal planning, table settings and family games.
- Sweep house and porch
- Run vaccum in any room
- Preparing garden for planting
- Hoe and rake garden
- Help prepare daily meals
- Make bread with some supervision
- Hang all laundry on line
- Fold all clothing articles
- Make a simple lunch unsupervised
- Make cookies, cakes, muffins and simple desserts
- Iron on low temperatures
- Serve meals and pour drinks
- Stack woodBy the time a child is 12 years old, he is capable of doing most anything you can do in the household. With training a 12 or 13 year old child can be depended upon to run the house in the prescence of an adult for short periods of time. For instance, when Mother has a new baby by her side, the older children should be able to be relied on to help Father with the small children to the point that he can attend to his work and have trust in the older ones to take care of and protect the younger ones.This is very alien and strange to many parents today. To leave a 13 year old child in the position of caring for his or her younger siblings, even if it is in the prescence of an adult, seems careless to them. Most 13 year olds are not capable or willing to be given this responsibility. And giving this responsibility to an untrained child is foolhardy at the least. So we must train up our children and provide for them this base and foundation for living a godly and Christ-Like life. And we must be willing to allow God to teach us the attributes of a Servant’s Heart and a Servant’s Mind so that we can train our children to be co-laborers in the Kingdom!Here are some scriptures verses and passages that you can use to meditate on as you study what it means to have the Mind of Christ and the heart and mind of a servant. May God bless the reading of His Word.
- Philippians 2:5-7
- Matthew 10:24-25
- Luke 12:48
- Isaiah 53:11
- John 13:14-15
- Luke 16:13
- 1 Corinthians 5:7
- Galatians 1:10
- Galatians 5:13
- Ephesians 5:2
- Acts 20:19
- Isaiah 57:15
- Ephesians 6:5
- 1 Samuel 15:22
- Luke 2:51
- John 12:50
- 2 Timothy 2:24
© 2006 Sylvia Britton