Friday, September 24, 2010

Homeways: Setting the Table

I have just started teaching my eldest son to set the table.  It is a part of our homeways lessons for my first year of homeschooling. It has gone beyond "helping"Mommy. I have handed him the baton, or the fork for that matter.

After having him assist me here and there for a long time I announced that he would be learning to do the job on his own. We had several practice rounds over the course of a couple of days.  While we set the table we would chit-chat about life amid the instruction on where and how the mats, plates, napkins, and utensils should all be set.

Before I go to bed each night I set our breakfast dishes into a basket. If we are having granola, then bowls.  Eggs and toast, then plates. You get the point. I put everything into the basket~ down to the straws for the smoothies. Everything he needs is present in the basket. 

At breakfast the basket is waiting for him on the table. He must set the table for Mommy before any other activity can happen once we are all downstairs and in gear.  Our lunch (at least during warm months) is picnic style outback so we just help each other out.  Before dinner I do not have time to put everything into the basket for him, so he sets the utensils and cloth napkins out for me. He also puts ice in cups and sets them in place.  I had to move our cups and utensils down onto shelves where he could reach them, but the move was well worth the independence he is experiencing.

Here are my guidelines:

Set everything up for him, so that he can succeed.
Do not correct how he sets the table right after he has done the job. 
Do not change how he has set the table. Accept cheefully it as it is. 
Display gratitude for his efforts. 
Display appreciate for positive attitudes. And, require a positive attitude.
Use the time to interact, making his labor an integral part of the kitchen on-goings.
Several days/weeks later introduce new elements to help him improve his task. 
Let him set the table for every day family meals and when company comes over.

I am  working to raise a helpful, cheerful, human being with initiative and skill~ not a you can see from the mis-matched plates in the above picture!

Our family is selling the very baskets we use to hold our breakfast dishes. They really do a fantastic job. They are fair trade bolga baskets from a women's cooperative in Ghana, Africa. They are made of elephant grass and goat hide leather. They are sustainable and beautiful! We are selling these as a fundraiser for our next adoption, which have just embarked upon.  We also use them for the farmer's market and keeping books/toys organized. They make great Christmas gifts! Check them out!

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