MEGASKILL EIGHT: TEAMWORK
We know team players when we work with them:
They don’t always have to get the credit.
They have spirit, & they share it with others.
They laugh with others, not at them.
They pitch in & make sacrifices.
They are helpful, not helpless.
Build a child’s ability to work with others, as part of a team, cooperating to achieve a common purpose.
An uneasy balance exists between individualism & group work in America, especially in the schools. Students are expected to perform & to be graded as individuals, competing rather than cooperating with each other. The school as an institution is basically just not a hospitable place for teamwork.
All children need ways to show that they can accomplish. Activities at home, even chores, can help. They provide a sense of getting things done, & they help children feel more needed, more important in the life of the family.
There is something special about being in the same place, doing a job together. Start by having them do jobs right with you, next to you. This isn’t just to keep an eye on them; it’s to build the spirit & the sense of teaming, to see ourselves accomplishing a task together.
My friend Ruth remembers bringing her children up on the roof with her & her husband, & together they tackled the job of repairing roof shingles. The children passed the nails; they held the ladder; they felt part of the team.
This same spirit prevails when families bake cookies together or read aloud to each other or change a tire together or shovel snow together or rake leaves together. Children may dislike housework chores but find them more agreeable when we are all in the same room together, one doing the dusting, another doing the polishing or sweeping. They love to rake leaves, but not alone.
It does take more time & patience to teach children how to work, to show them a job step by step, to encourage them, & then to step back & let them take over. It’s easier to do the work for them. But as with much of parenting, efforts when children are young are an investment in the future.
Real Work, Not Make-Work–ages 4-6
Set attainable goals with your child. Start with easy tasks & work up to harder ones. Example: A four-year-old can bring in the paper every day & wipe the kitchen table.
Turn jobs into games. Set the same task for you & your child. Race each other to see who wipes the table or retrieves the newspaper faster. Chances are, your child will win, on the up & up.
Show children how to do the work–but do not redo their work. Example: The first time a child uses a vacuum, show how to do it & what to pick up.
Divide & Conquer–ages 7-9
Pick a job that has several parts. A good example is preparing a meal. What do you do first? What do you do second? Your list might look like this:
Plan the meal.
Shop for groceries.
Prepare the food.
Set the table
Clean up afterward.
Ask everyone to choose from the list one job to do.
Organising Household Chores–ages 10-12
Together make a list of all the jobs that need to be done around the house. You might separate them into weekly jobs & daily jobs.
Weekly Jobs: Doing laundry, vacuuming, grocery shopping, mowing the lawn.
Daily Jobs: Cooking dinner, making beds, taking out garbage, feeding pets.
Decide together when jobs will be done & who will do them. Write down names next to the jobs. Family members can switch with each other later. Try to avoid labeling work as “girl’s” or “boy’s”.
Let Me Help You!: For older children, tell the story or show the film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. In this classic Jimmy Stewart sacrifices for his family, stays home from college, & manages to keep open a small bank to help poor people get homes. With the help of an angel named Clarence, he learns that he has indeed lived a wonderful life.
What Do We Think?–ages 7-9
Help children practice finding out what others think. Take a poll at home about household products. Should we buy more of this? If yes, why? If no, why not? What could the family buy instead of this product?
What’s Your Opinion?–ages 10-12
Choose one rule that causes family arguments. Ask your child’s opinion of the rule. If it’s about bedtime, that opinion might be, “Having a bedtime is a bad rule. Kids should go to bed whenever they want.” Ask your child to give at least two reasons for this opinion.
Now ask your child to give two arguments for the other side. One might be, “Kids need sleep to keep awake in school.”
Down the Drain & Out the Window–any age
Children may be wasting electricity & water without even knowing that they cost money. For this activity you need some utility bills.
Take a house electricity tour. Check whether lights, radios, or televisions have been left on. Talk with your children about ways to save on utility bills, such as turning off the air conditioner when nobody is home or lowering the heat at night when people are sleeping.
Take a house water tour. Think of all the ways you use water–for dishes, for bathing, for cooking. Then talk about ways you can conserve water.
Look at the bills in the next few months to see the results. Use a set of bills you & your youngster can follow.
Shopping Around–ages 7-12
This activity helps children learn how to compare prices in order to shop carefully for an item they want. You need newspaper ads for new products, classified ads for used items.
Ask children to select an item to “buy” from a newspaper ad & from a classified ad. This might be a bicycle or a television set. Together mark the ads that sound like the best buys. Talk about the items & urge the “consumers” to discuss the ads with other members of the family. Which do they consider the best buys?