About a year ago now there was a period of time where home educators were accused, as a pack, of keeping their children at home for domestic servitude and household chores, rather than for the fairly reasonable purpose of wanting them to have an different and meaningful education that would fit them for life. Apparently we home educators thought that if we kept kids at home all day, they could slave for us and we’d be able to put our feet up and do nothing. Apparently, we kept them at home to do housework.
There are a couple of obvious flaws in this, as anyone who has got children will tell you. Having your children at home all day is NOT the way to keep your house tidy. Having your children at home all day will NOT give you pristine carpets. Having children at home all day, or in your car all day, or running in and out of the garden all day, or painting, clay making, Lego playing, music making or heck in this house even reading a book, seems to be the fastest way I’ve ever found of trashing the house, ruining the carpets and making your brain fall out of your ears from sheer noise pollution.
Unless of course I am doing this all wrong and everyone else is sitting on their pretty backsides all day while the housework gets done, the floors get washed and an endless stream of cups of tea and daintily made biscuits are brought to their side? 😆 And even then, you struggle to get children to do things like that if you actually try to make them. So far as I can see, biscuit making in this house is the sole preserve of the person most capable of causing a kitchen white out and the only kids who want to make tea are the ones not yet tall enough to do it safely.
The political shenanigans of last year made me question a little what exactly is the ‘right’ amount of house-workery-job-sharing in the house. I’m not likely ever to smile at the iron in the manner of the lady in the picture – and my children think irons are for melting Hama Beads anyway but presumably it is reasonable to ask children living as part of a community (as in a family) to take part in the jobs that keep it running, without worrying about being accused of using them as slaves? I’d like my girls to know not just what washing machines are for but also how to use them, thanks very much, by the time they reach adulthood. Besides, I can come up with masses of educational benefit in the dirty washing. There is colour sorting for a start, and all those labels with their textiles and washing codes and pictorial instructions. My goodness, I practically did a GCSE in stuff like that. It’s Montessori I tell you!
Fran can cook pretty well now; she probably makes a meal or two a week and Maddy has learned a mean set of bartering skills over tea making and cooking up biscuits. Amelie, if nothing else, can wield a hoover well enough to make sure the music teacher doesn’t stick to the floor on arrival. I can’t see how these skills can do anything other than benefit them really, though I’m quite sure none of them appreciate it.
When I went off to college, I had to ring my Nana on the first night to ask how to boil potatoes. I’ve never boiled an egg in my life and the idea of doing anything much more complicated than tuna and pasta fills me with dread. I’m utterly and completely domestically hopeless. I don’t even put the bins out and if Max made off, I can assure you a combination com-bin-ation, geddit?) of laziness and ineptitude would mean we used a carrier bag on a door handle forever onward. And I can tell you a story worse than that admission too; I know of someone who, a month into her marriage, finally asked her new husband why she hadn’t had any of his underwear to wash yet. It turned out (heaven help everyone) that up until he left home at 30 years old, a new pair of pants had arrived at the end of his bed every day but this had mysteriously ceased on moving into his marital home. 🙄
Given that I’ve been trying to teach tidiness (make, force, beat into them, read what you will into it) to my 4 girls for upwards of 12 years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that keeping them all home and making them sort out their own washing into lights and darks isn’t likely to do them any lasting damage. You never know, it might be useful.