Thursday, February 14, 2013

Children and Work

A little friend who loves to do the dishes. She and my daughter (r) had just made a cake.  
More from Living with Children by Mrs. Lillian Gilbreth

Mr. and Mrs. Gilbreth were big believers in encouraging and allowing children to work in service to the family at a very young age. In fact Mr. Gilbreth had even "marked places on the closet floor with chalk where his slippers should go and nailed down a paper circle where his wastebasket was to stand, and allowed the baby, even before she could walk, to feel that she could help by putting away the slippers and pushing back the wastebasket.... The parents who have allowed their boys and girls this opportunity and privilege [to serve and contribute to the family] not only know their own joy in teaching the childrn but the children's delight in learning to be of service."

"Children learn to work best on real live projects. This is one reason why the children of pioneers were so admirably trained. There was no need to invent jobs to keep them busy or to think up chores to make them believe the work they actually did was actually needed. It is very difficult today, especially in the apartment-house life which is all that some families ever have, to find live projects."

Mrs. Gilbreth then relates how she and her husband chose their home because it needed love and care to bring it up to snuff and maintain--a large project full of many little projects and chores that they did as a family, with all children participating. The same with the summer house, which was little better than an empty shack in the beginning. "To rescue, repair, and reinstate every old piece of furniture on the place and never to buy anything that one could make became a matter of pride with the children.... A very young child, especially if his efforts are appreciated, will form ties with the places where he has accomplished something worthwhile that will always remain sources of satisfaction."

"Once the work projects have been thought through, an efficient workplace must be planned for. Again and again I have heard my husband say to some child who had started to sort stamps, polish silver, or do his homework, 'Here that is no place to work.' He would then rearrange work and worker till the light was right, the clutter removed, and the room or desk or table established as a workplace that not only made the work easier but gave the small person that attitude of good work. The child was made to feel, too, that a well-arranged workplace was not prescribed for him alone. He was allowed to criticize the workplace of the older members of the family, and any suggestions he could make for betterment were rewarded."

To read more of the ideas of Mrs. Lillian Gilbreth, in addition to Living with Children, there is her fascinating autobiography, As I Remember, and The Home-Maker and Her Job. Mrs. Gilbreth invented the three-sided kitchen geared to efficiency and the step-lid-up trash can.

1 comment:

Dianna said...

Thank you so much for sharing some of Lillian Moller Gilbreth's work. I have always loved Cheaper by the Dozen, and I am looking forward to exploring some of her work.