Yesterday I blogged about training each of our children even though they are all at different levels of skill and understanding (read blog post here). One of the ways that has worked for me is by breaking down a skill or moral truth into bite size pieces. Each step is progressive and therefore each of my children can be working at a different stage and yet I keep my focus knowing that we are working on one thing at this moment in time.
An example of working with these progressive steps is going grocery shopping. We go grocery shopping every week; it is a fantastic training opportunity and yet we miss that opportunity because we want it over and done with real quick! And yet the learning that goes on is huge. Here is a progressive list (it may not be exhaustive) that will move our children through grocery shopping training.
- Stay in the trolley or pram
- Keep voices quiet, inside voices
- Hold onto the trolley, don’t leave mum
- Don’t ask for things!
- Greet people politely, say a big hello to the checkout lady
- Be patient if mummy talks to a friend
- Follow instructions, help mummy by getting things off the shelf (the right things, the things I need!)
- Help unload the groceries into the car, and then into the house and pantry once we get home.
- Go off by yourself and get 2-5 items (initially in the same isle, eventually in a different isle than mum)
- Understand comparing prices, understand quality for money
- Go off by yourself and do ½ the shopping
- Understanding the family budget and nutritional needs
- Go off by yourself and do the whole shopping
When I look at this progressive list I can immediately see what training needs to happen for each of my children. This means I go into my weekly task of grocery shopping ready to teach and practice and I come out knowing that each of my children have grown in this area of responsibility.
These are some character qualities that we can train towards while grocery shopping
- Obedience – do what I am told with a happy attitude
- Gratefulness – be thankful for the many blessings I have
- Respect – the other person counts
- Thriftiness – being wise with my money
- Responsibility – to be dependable in all that I’m asked to do
Yes, it is true, if we train our children while we do the grocery shop it will take longer, but in the long run you will have trained your children in a very valuable life skill. Grocery shopping is just one situation in our day, in our family life, which we can use to train our children.
You can take this concept and apply it to any training you want to give your children. Break the skill down into progressive steps, consider if there is a character based response connected to each step, and then assess where each of your children are on that progressive list. You can now go into any situation where that life skill is required and know how to instruct or encourage each different age or ability.
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