It’s nearly bedtime on a warm spring evening and my seven year old is begging me not to make him put down his saw.
Yep, I said saw. Depending on your lifestyle, that might seem like no big thang oooor you might be wondering if social services should get involved.
But seriously, he’s building his house. Not a fort or a tree house. He’s helping to build our home. It’s just a handsaw. And he’s been learning how to use it safely on wood. But midway through working on our second story, we found the perfect job for him with insulation. Foam insulation cuts faster than wood so he can focus on making a straight line and get the satisfaction of getting the job done sooner.
As I thought of how odd this might seem to some people, I thought of all the things I’m loving about having our children help out on the construction site:
Awareness of surroundings.
Around the age of three or four, it seems like we start saying “Watch out!” a lot.
Watch out for your sister.
Watch your head.
Watch out for the dog.
Watch out for that wall!
Bringing them on to a construction site requires that we tell them to pay attention to what’s going on around them and ensure that they follow through.
In the yard or other places children are really comfortable, it’s easy for them to let their bodies get a little disconnected from their brains.
When you add a new situation, especially with a little risk, most children will be more deliberate with their movements. It’s so good for their bodies and minds to have to think through what they’re doing. Working with animals (particularly large ones) is another really great way to teach this!
Motor skills & hand eye coordination
Whether they’re using a hammer and nail, a screwdriver or drawing pictures in the sawdust; there are opportunities for both fine & gross skills abound.
This is one of my favorites. When we learned about the American colonists, we read about the work that went into a house. In science we’ve read about heat and energy transfer. Every week in math we work on understanding numbers and how they work. Nothing compares to actually seeing how it works.
There are a lot of very bright students out there who put the facts in their heads but don’t get the opportunity to see and use the information. Cheers to the rockstars who teach the neighborhood kiddos how to measure, cut, change oil, grow things…whatever it is they know! Especially when those relationships grow into healthy cross-generational friendships that extend into life & spiritual issues.
Skills & responsibility
Seriously, if he’s cutting a straight line like a pro now, what will he able to do ten years from now? If he can safely use and care for a handsaw now, what could he take care of in five years? I’m guessing Adriel’s sawdust scratch art will have greatly improved as well. (Seriously though, that girl can find a way to draw an-y-where.)
Cooperation & teamwork
When we’re working on the house, it’s easy to see that it’s not all about them. While it’s always worthwhile to be kind and generous, it much easier for them to see why in the house. They know it’s not just for us to live in, it’s for us to love people in. So they hold the flashlight, share the scrap wood and take turns with the pencil. And my heart sighs.
Pardon me, but I interrupt this beautiful moment to prevent the appearance of momhood mastery. I’ll be honest; sometimes they throw all of that sweet stuff out the window as soon as their feet hit the ground. Real life friend, you and me both.
But seriously, the only thing that could be better for their attitudes is if they were primarily serving someone else’s family. That’s where the best stuff happens.
It’s your turn! I would love to hear about the fun jobs you all use to stretch the children in your life! Comment, e-mail or whatever floats your boat!