Classroom Jobs

It’s good and healthy for people of all ages to work! Many of you readers work full time (in or out of the home). Today I want to talk about helping kids learn to work. I don’t have any kids of my own yet, but I do work with lots of children every day and I am helping them learn to work.

In my classroom we have class jobs. Obviously my job is to teach, but I want to help my students learn to be responsible and learn to help.

Most kids naturally love to help. I will often say, “Who wants to help me…” and before I can finish my sentence lots of tiny hands shoot into the air. Kids want to help and feel useful and jobs can fulfill that need. (It also makes my life easier, so that’s a benefit too!)

I have seen many different job charts in people’s homes and classrooms. There are lots of places you can buy classroom job charts, but I just like to make my own. In my classroom I have found a system that works best for me. I make a big pocket chart. Each pocket has a job written on it. Then I write my student’s names on popsicle sticks. I slide a stick into each pocket and I am done! I choose to rotate my jobs weekly, so when class is done on Friday I just shift each stick over one slot.

My students can hardly wait to see their new jobs on Monday. They rush into the room and huddle around the chart. They look to see what job they have, what job their friends have and who has their favorite job!

Not only does giving my students jobs help them have a chance to work, but it also helps me have less to do at the end of each class and day. I no longer have to go find stray pencils around the classroom or straighten the books on the bookshelf. I don’t have to pick up trash or erase the whiteboard. My kids love doing their assigned job and helping remind their friends to do theirs as well. They enjoy it and I have less to do. It’s a win-win situation!

“Can’t You See”?

Have you ever wondered why your child does not see a mess and know what needs to be done to clean it up?  Can’t they see what needs to be done?  The answer is, no.  NO, NO, NO. Kids do not look into a messy bedroom and think to themselves, “Wow, this place is a mess and needs to be cleaned up”.  They probably think something more like, “Isn’t it great that all my toys are already out and ready to be played with?”

This is true with all ages of children from pre-school to teenagers.

Last week I was at a service project where we were doing some lawn work. I handed a 17 year old a weed eater and they asked, “Where do I need to use this”? I thought, “Are you serious?” but only answered, “Around the tree trunks and the light post and anywhere the lawn mower can’t reach”. I was reminded at that moment that evaluating a situation, seeing what needs to be done, and breaking a job down into steps is not something we’re born knowing how to do.

When I was a very new mom and before I had this awakening myself, I remember a friend of mine telling me that she went into her 4 year olds bedroom and said, “This room is a mess”. To which her child just stared at her like she had no idea what she was referring to. She said she realized at that moment that her child honestly did not have a clue that something needed to be cleaned up. Over the years I’ve remembered the experience she told me but I didn’t think it was any great realization. However recently when the teenager acted so perplexed over where they should use the weed eater, I realized that kids, especially young children, cannot see what needs to be done without being told or shown.

I believe this is one reason kids respond so well to clean up games. When your child has an area that needs to be cleaned up play the “What to do next” game. Tell them:

-First pick up everything that’s blue

-Second pick up 10 things that are red

-Third pick up all the vehicles; cars, trucks, trains (Ah, ha, we snuck a new             word in there for them to learn)

-Next put away anything that is smaller than your hand. (Or use another familiar item for comparison)

-Next put away anything bigger than your hand


Besides getting a clean room, these types of activities have lasting benefits such as teaching kids:

How to break a big job down into smaller step so it’s not so over             whelming.


How to count

How to compare two things (the size of their hand to a toy)

How to organize

New vocabulary words


And that work CAN be fun (I think we all forget that sometimes)

And last I need to acknowledge that I know it’s easier and faster to clean up a mess yourself than to have a child do it. However think of the job as the vehicle for you to have an opportunity to teach your child so much more than how to work. AND I strongly believe that when we do a job and do it well we earn a feeling of satisfaction that we can get no other way (honestly, have you ever cleaned your store room, painted a bed room, or some other big job, and then gone back to peak at it several times later through the day just to enjoy your accomplishment?).  Work is it’s own reward, and that is an important thing to teach our children.

Growing up my mom recited this poem to us quite often:

“If a job is once begun,

Do not leave it till it’s done.

Be the labor big or small,

Do it well or not at all.”


Of course we wanted to choose “not at all” but that really was not one of our options.

Teaching a child how to recognize what needs to be done and how to do it is a big task that can feel daunting. However, if done, it will benefit them (and YOU) all through their lives!