Creating a work ethic in the hearts of our children is a very important responsibility given to parents. In fact, working and having a heart to serve is mentioned many times in scripture.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 says, ...If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Instilling a work ethic is crucial to our children's success in life and in school and will benefit them as adults. One way we can do this is by giving them responsibilities around the house to do on a day to day basis. Depending on their school schedule and age, they can do them all first thing each morning or after school ends, or the tasks can be split up throughout the day. That's a decision you can make together.
One method we have found effective for instilling a heart for work in our children is by creating "Acts of Service" cards. We started this idea when our first child reached the age of three. We began teaching him responsibilities like making his bed and picking up his toys. From that point forward we followed the same plan with each of our children and it has been a blessing to them and us.
When each child reached the age of three, we gave them three responsibilities to do each day. When they were four years old, they were given four things to do. Finally, upon reaching the age of five, they reached the maximum things we expected done in a day. From that point forward, they each had five things to do on a daily basis throughout their teen years.
We consciously chose not to call these tasks "chores" but instead we called them "Acts of Service" since the word chore tended to create a negative response. The year we introduced the concept, we decided to make it a special occasion our children would never forget. On that night, we lit some candles, put on some worship music, and washed our children's feet. We used it as an opportunity to teach the story of how Jesus washed his disciple's feet and how he said he came to serve others and not to be served. We talked about being blessed and showing gratitude for our blessings by taking care of what God has given us. We explained that by doing Acts of Service around the house we were saying "thank you" to God. We also talked about doing everything we do to the best of our ability.
After the teaching time ended, we showed them their new "Acts of Service" cards. These were colored cards I made on the computer and then laminated. I punched a hole in the top left corner of each card and put them on a metal ring to place by their bed so they were ready for them to look at each morning when they awoke.
On the ring, I had created cards giving directions on certain tasks like "How to sort laundry" or "How to clean a toilet". I also included a card that explained the consequences if they failed to complete the card each day. Then I created a card for each day of the week, listing what they would need to do each day.
Below I have included an example of a set of cards for an elementary school age child assigned five chores per day. You can use my ideas or create your own cards with the tasks you would like for your children to learn. Remember to keep in mind the age of your children. The tasks should be less in number and easier to do the younger they are. Also remember to have them report back to you when a task is complete so that you can check their work. At age three, you won't have a perfectly made bed but always applaud their efforts. Encourage improvement while keeping in mind their age and abilities.
The most rewarding part of developing a work ethic in your children, is building a foundation and creating a heart for servant-hood that can last a lifetime.
Acts of Service Cards
Daily Before Breakfast
Rules for Results
Do any chores not finished this week
How to Clean Toilets
Guidelines for Cleaning out car
How to sort clothes