Putting Theory into Practice- in the Kitchen

I have been asked to give more detail on how I trained my children to clean a kitchen using Charlotte Mason’s ideas of PERFECT EXECUTION.

Starting at six years of age I give my child a simple task such as putting away silverware. I model the job requiring perfect execution. If not completed correctly, they do it again, and immediately, with the motto “work before play” in mind. The job is simple and short. I only give them ONE job at a time. After several weeks, I give another job to them. They work on this while still doing the earlier job. This is the general order in which I introduce them:
  • Put away silverware
  • Clear the table
  • Set the table
  • Sweep the kitchen floor and shake rugs
  • Empty trash
  • Dry and put away dishes
  • Wash dishes and counter
  • Wash table and chairs
  • Mop the floor
We follow FLYLADY’S (flylady.net) suggestions for keeping a house clean without ever having to spring clean it. This means that one week during the month, when it is time to work in the kitchen zone, we spend three days, at just 20 minutes a day cleaning other areas of the kitchen. Again, I model this and then hand the job over to my child.

This would include:
  • Clean the refrigerator
  • Wash walls
  • Wash cupboards,
  • Clean appliances
  • Wash windows
  • Wash knickknacks
  • Reorganize pantry
  • etc…
I have made out cleaning lists in my home journal and they choose one job each from the kitchen list on those cleaning days. Each week we work on a different zone in the house. The key here is short intervals of work, just as Charlotte Mason advocated short lessons. It also works in other areas of the home. I used to deep clean for hours at a time, and wear us all out, but have since learned that short sessions prevent burnout and keep the work enjoyable. My children really enjoy this because their chores are not always the same. Monotony cannot settle in. Again, this is just another concept that CM wrote about.

In the cooking area, every evening my children take turns cooking supper with me. I start this when they are about seven or eight years old. One child works along side of me as I model how I want it done. They now know that they do not begin to cook until a pan of hot soapy water is waiting for dirty dishes to be dipped into and loaded into the dishwasher. A plastic empty container must be out and waiting for vegetable peels and such to be tossed into, rather than left on the counter and the counters must be wiped every so often, etc… They each have a recipe notebook that they have nicely decorated and divided into sections. I require them to write down at least one recipe per week in it. They use it frequently now when making meals on their own. Some nights I just tell my oldest daughters to make supper because I need a break, and they make the entire meal without my help. They are in the process of learning how to plan meals for a week and make a grocery list. I can send my 11 and 13 year old to the store with their dad now and they can do all the grocery shopping for the family whenever I am too busy to do it myself. Their DD sometimes sits in the car or helps them. What a blessing!

I hope this gives someone some fresh ideas.