Before turning to my trusty “right hand” eldest, I ask myself, “Could a younger child do it?” This helps balance things so that the older children see work as a privilege, not a burden. The younger ones likewise feel included and know they are a contributing part of the team!
If a bucket of Legos has been overturned, I stop a moment before summoning the 4 or 6 year old. Little Kieran, at 18 months, is great at picking things up, and while he’ll take twice as long to do the job, he glows with pride that Mommy needs his help!
I’m in a lazy rut of asking six year old Kendra to pour water for her siblings. A moment’s consideration reminds me that Kendra’s done the same job for years, and little Anna (at age 4) is now just as capable–or almost. She might take longer than big sister and she needs to fetch the step stool, but she’s careful and tidy and gets the job done.
The older children still have plenty of jobs, as some things really are too advanced for tiny hands. Sometimes too I mix it up and make an exception. We try to avoid ever fostering a “that’s not MY job” mentality and it is good for the older children to revisit simple tasks occasionally. I just try not to default to a “right hand” eldest for if the wee ones can accomplish the same task. (It is also nice to have several trusty “right hands” instead of just one!)
(Yes, faithful readers may notice I’m stuck on a theme. This article is along the same line as the past two weeks topics entitled Idle Hands and What’s a Child to Do.)
(Cross-posted from my Taming The Chaos column on the Homeschool Blogger Front Porch)