Category Archives: Community

To Resist, Use DARE. Written by: Nelson C’19

By: Nelson C ’19

Dare has influenced me greatly this year and has made me a more confident person when it comes to being in a tricky situation. We, the sixth graders, have learned so much in DARE class and know what to do in situations involving drugs, resistance, stress, and bullying. DARE has changed my perspective on stressful and negative events. From my DARE classes with Officer Ammaturo, I now know what I will do when I am faced with extreme choices and pressure. Without the knowledge and experience that comes with the DARE sessions, it would be hard to handle the unsuspecting turns and thrills we call life.

Situations such as drugs, stress, resistance and bullying can affect our personalities and lives greatly. Alcohol kills seventy-five thousand people a year in the United States alone. Alcoholic beverages can cause loss of coordination, memory loss, slow reflexes, and loss of self-control. It weakens the heart and can damage every organ in your body. Smoking kills more than four hundred-fifty thousand people a year in America. Whether you are using cigarettes, cigars, the pipe, vape pens, or Juul, tobacco contains nicotine which causes heart disease, colds, respiratory problems, lung cancer, tooth damage, and ruined skin. Alcohol and nicotine are both considered a drug and are very addictive. Remember what they can cause, so you can avoid them in the future. This knowledge can save your life.

Stress is another negative problem that you will most likely run into. You may get frustrated, warm, and start to sweat. Having a fast heartbeat and blushing are other symptoms of stress. You may have a temper tantrum when you are stressed. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of your words and not get mad at people who are trying to help you. Possible ways to relieve stressful feelings are breathing deeply and calming yourself with relaxing thoughts. Bullying is probably the most feared negative situation. There are four kinds of bullying: social, verbal, physical, and cyber. Social bullying is delivered by a group of people. Cyberbullying takes place on social media while verbal bullying is with words. Physical bullying is probably the most serious kind and it involves fights and injuries. All forms of bullying can be solved by telling a trusted adult or standing up to the bully. Use your DARE experience to stick up for yourself and others, for resistance is a mountain, and you can use your strength to charge up the first part, but your knowledge will get you to the top.

When I was younger, I would get scared when thinking of bullying, drugs, and stress but thanks to DARE I now know what I will do when faced with challenging choices. If I am ever in a situation involving drugs, I know that I can remind myself about the negative health effects of drugs, use resistance strategies to avoid them, and use the DARE decision-making model. We all know now when in times of uncertainty, to D) define the problem, A) assess the situation, R) respond to the problem, and E) evaluate your decision. As confident people, we should be able to fight against stress and know yourself and your mistakes as well as you know your good points. Life does not focus on mistakes; eventually, you will realize that happiness is the key to a good life. Along with stress, bullying is not an unsolvable matter. It is not something to dread. It can be solved and there are ways to avoid it. Just appreciate the joyful moments, and when a difficult moment comes, harness your rope, hold it tight, and take a big step forward.  The way you approach a situation is the way you overcome it.

Growing up can be stressful and challenging, but I know I can overcome and take care of these situations, so I should not be scared of them.  I can deal with bullying when I am older, and I will strive to be nice to people and not become a bully myself.  Resisting bullying and drugs should be easy if I think of what I know about them and confidently stand up for myself or say no to drugs.  As I get older, I know we will run into these challenges and face them confidently.  To choose the right path is a mediocre problem, to stay on that path is the greatest challenge of life.  Remember DARE and use it wisely, for we are the future and the future is great.

DARE has greatly changed my perspective on many topics including drugs, stress, and bullying.  Along with being confident about what to do in these problems, I have learned what these situations can cause and create.  Resistance is not hard when you learn and experience what can happen in the difficult settings of life.

Meadowbrook Students Recognized In National French Competition

Meadowbrook French Club
Winners of Le Grand Concours

Le Grand Concours is a national competition sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French. Students were evaluated for their written, oral and listening comprehension skills in French. More than 72,000 students in all 50 states competed in the 2019 event. Second-grade student, Juniper Oser, earned a platinum medal, plaque and certificate for earning the highest score in her level/division. This is the first time a Meadowbrook student earned this placing! Sixth-grade student, Zara Clark-Schecter, ranked in the 95th percentile earning a gold medal. Fifth-grade students, Delaney Stout, and Gabriella Cordon ranked in the 90th percentile nationally earning silver medals. Sixth-grade student Nelson Cordon ranked in the 85th percentile nationally also earning a silver medal. Elizabeth Grohsman (4th grade), Peyton Abbott (3rd grade), and Lia Khoury (2nd grade) ranked in the 80th percentile nationally earning bronze medals according to Lisa Narug, National Director of Le Grand Concours.

AATF President Anne Jensen indicated: As the president of AATF, I would like to extend my special congratulations to those students who ranked nationally in Le Grand Concours.
They have shown a superior level of French language skills, cultural competence, and commitment to French. It is my hope that these students will continue their interest in French and pursue study and travel opportunities as future ambassadors of the French language and the many cultures it represents. I would also like to congratulate the teachers who prepared nationally ranked students because without their dedication and hard work these students would not have attained their ranking. Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to the parents who have supported and advocated for the French programs in their children’s schools. Our Association is grateful to the dedication and hard work of everyone who shares our passion for the promotion of French.

The Meadowbrook School’s French Club, hosted by World Language teacher, Suzanne McDowell Cordon ’95 and Khyber Oser, prepares students for Le Grand Concours by conversing in French, preparing and eating French food, and having fun! Just another way the Meadowbrook School is bringing life to learning.

Jaimie Abt Shmelzer ’90 & Drew Shmelzer ’19 Civil Rights Journey

From February 14th to 17th,  Drew and I traveled with our synagogue, Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, on a Civil Rights journey to Atlanta and Birmingham.   We went with 17 6th and 7th graders, the director of our religious school, Rabbi Stacy Rigler, and some other parents.   It was a powerful and emotional trip for all who attended. We went with a company called Etgar 36, and most of us learned while we were there that Etgar means “challenge” in Hebrew.   The trip itself was challenging; we were forced to look at our country’s shameful past regarding slavery, and the racism that still exists as a result of it.   We were also left with a challenge to try to make changes and be the generation that ends racism and achieves equal justice for all.

After arriving in Atlanta in the late afternoon, we met up with our incredible guide, Josh.   He took us to dinner and then told us a story about the lynching of a Jewish man.   Most of the kids, and some of the adults didn’t know what lynching is. While it wasn’t the best bedtime story, it really set the stage for the days to come.   Our first full day was spent in Montgomery, Alabama.   We started in the Rosa Parks Museum.   While everyone had heard of Rosa Parks and the bus boycotts, there was a lot we didn’t know, and we all found the museum to be interesting and worthwhile.   Then after a delicious lunch of southern fried chicken, we went to the Equal Rights Initiative.   They recently opened The Legacy Museum, which looks at racial inequality from enslavement through mass incarceration; and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is a memorial to victims of lynching.   These places were eye-opening. Some of the students came out of the museum really upset that they didn’t learn about this in school.   To hear that one in three African-American boys born today will serve time in jail really shook people. To see the thousands of names listed in the memorial on stones the size of coffins of those lynched for things like, “writing a note to a white woman,” was shocking to us.   There were dates and locations of the lynchings too, and they didn’t all take place in the South.  Some were in Pennsylvania. The latest date I saw was 1949.

That evening we attended a local Shabbat service, which was a really nice ending to the day.   Then we enjoyed a pizza dinner, and the kids got to let out their energy with a swim party.

The next morning, we left for Selma.   We stopped outside the Edmund Pettus Bridge where Rabbi Rigler led a brief, interactive service.   She was amazing at having everyone share short reflections throughout the trip.   The students were impressive each time, saying really thoughtful things.   In Selma we met Joanne Bland.   She was 11 years old when she marched from Selma to Montgomery and was beaten on the second attempt.  Ms.  Bland gave us a tour of Selma and shared her story, which included being arrested multiple times before she was 13 years old.   Ms. Bland was unbelievable.   She never gave up.   She has spent her whole life fighting for civil rights. She told us how much better things are now, but knows there is still a long way to go.   She told each of us that we are the most important person, and, “You are standing where history was made, I know you must be a history maker too.”   The impact she left on us will be  everlasting.

 

That afternoon we went to Birmingham, Alabama. Our first stop was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. This was a very impressive museum where we learned more about the history  of the civil rights movement. After that we met up with Bishop Calvin Woods. He has been a civil rights worker since the 1950’s and was a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. He took us on a walking tour of Freedom Park and showed us the 16th St. Baptist Church, which was bombed and four young girls were killed. Bishop Woods told us incredible stories and sang with us. There is a plaque in the park dedicated to him, which is very unusual for someone still living.   Hearing stories from Bishop Woods and Ms. Bland left huge impacts on us.   It makes history come alive when you hear from people who lived it.

We drove back to Atlanta that night, and people were really tired.   It was a long few days. Rabbi Rigler said we were going to have a Havdalah service.   I thought the kids were going to complain and have nothing left.   They surprised me.   Rabbi Rigler asked each person to share one thing from the day that made the most impression on them. Each person said something that either the Bishop or Joanne said that was powerful and meaningful to them. It was beautiful.

Sunday morning, we went to the Names Project/ AIDS Quilt and learned how AIDS is a modern civil rights issue.   We then went to a church service at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is where Dr. King was raised.   Finally we saw his burial site.

 

This trip was so impactful.   Everywhere we went, people were telling the kids that they are the generation that is going to change things  and end racism and bigotry.   They felt empowered.   We now know that it is our job to tell these stories to make sure history doesn’t repeat itself.   Some of the kids are going to do more than that; they are going to become activists for equality and prison reform.   Some of the students left saying they want to go again, others left saying it was too short.   The adults left feeling exhausted!   Travelling with students this age can be challenging – these kids made it easy.   They exceeded our expectations in every way.

Smartphones and the abdication of parental responsibility

By: Ira Wells

Like most kids who have recently been given their first cellphones, Andrea’s 12-year-old daughter is pretty nonchalant about the whole thing. When asked what she likes best about her new iPhone, she shrugs. “Feeling responsible,” she says. Besides, since her friends mostly interact over Snapchat and Instagram, the phone is a crucial way to keep in touch. Sure, she’s heard about kids “writing rude things” on social media, and sneaking off to the school bathroom to check their notifications. But over all, she’s not worried.

“Worried,” however, hardly begins to describe the deep apprehension that Andrea feels toward her daughter’s phone. Andrea’s concern, or one of them, is that as the phone replaces face-to-face interactions, her daughter “won’t be able to communicate or develop deeper, meaningful friendships. And it’s easy enough for a grownup to fall into the trap of valuing yourself for your ‘likes.’ How is a hormonal teenager going to handle that?”

Among the infinite sources of anxiety involved in childrearing today, few fill parents’ hearts with icy dread quite like the question of when kids should get their first smartphones. For modern parents, members of the last generation to grow up prior to ubiquitous internet access, equipping kids with their first phone often feels like a momentous decision – one that could impact children’s social development, influence their sense of self, shape their first romantic experiences and even condition their experience of “reality.”

And yet, despite their often-profound misgivings, most parents today act as though the smartphone is simply an unavoidable fixture of adolescence. That is an interesting reversal of expectations. Pop psychology tells us that today’s parents are mollycoddling, hyper-protective control freaks. Yet, when it comes to the signature parenting issue of our generation – the effect of smartphones on children – we have ceded control to the kids themselves, or to the marketing departments of Silicon Valley corporations. Kids are going to “need” those phones, according to the dominant cultural narrative, because the future. Or connection. Or something.

While parents endlessly discuss when kids should get their first phones, there’s no debating that children are getting phones earlier than ever. In the United States, where statistics are more readily available, the average child gets his or her own smartphone at 10.3 years of age, down from 12 just a few years ago, according to the marketing firm Influence Central. In this country, more than one-quarter of Grade 4 students have their own phone, according to a 2015 report by MediaSmarts, a digital literacy non-profit. That number rises each year until Grade 11, when 85 per cent report owning a phone. Of course, simply having a phone does not guarantee participation in social media, but let’s be real. One-third of Canadian children in Grades 4 to 6 have Facebook accounts, even though the site is technically prohibited to those under 13, according to MediaSmarts.

Most parents, educators and experts agree that there is no universal “right” age at which to give kids their first phones. For Alex Russell, a clinical psychologist who works with children and teenagers and author of Drop the Worry Ball: How to Parent in the Age of Entitlement, the decision must be situated within an understanding of the overall maturation of individual children on their path to autonomy.

“Parents are understandably anxious over their children’s online activities,” Dr. Russell said over the phone. “But a healthy development process will involve children taking on some of that anxiety for themselves. We want kids to be playful, but appropriately wary.” In Dr. Russell’s experience, parents tend to get hung up on the alarming (violent or sexual) content of digital media, where they should really be concerned about the form: that is, how digital media can prevent the uninterrupted experience of our own private interiority.

But just how harmful is this new media, really? Few authorities suggest prohibiting smartphones; even the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) suggests that moderation is key, counselling parents to set limits on smartphone usage and “unplug” at least an hour before bedtime, given the melatonin-suppressing effects of cellular devices – although the CPS also acknowledges that the digital landscape is evolving faster than research can measure the effects on children.

That research, however, is starting to catch up – and the results are unsettling. In an article this month in Clinical Psychological Science, the American psychologist Jean Twenge and three co-authors highlight the connection between the recent spike in mental health issues among adolescents and the concomitant rise in electronic device usage. Their study found that four suicide-related outcomes – feeling sad or hopeless, seriously considering suicide, making a suicide plan or attempting suicide – were “significantly correlated” with new media screen time. “The results,” the authors conclude, “show a clear pattern linking screen activities with higher levels of depressive symptoms/suicide-related outcomes and non-screen activities with lower levels.” The negative psychological outcomes were particularly pronounced among young women, who use social media more heavily and are more frequently the victims of cyberbullying than their male peers.

While the connection between depression and the new media is certainly alarming, it also confirms what many parents have long suspected: our kids’ sense of self-worth is often hopelessly entwined with the “like-driven” economy that governs social media. Children have difficulty negotiating technologies that have been engineered, in the words of Tristan Harris, a former Google Design Ethicist, to “exploit our minds’ weaknesses” through supplying intermittent variable rewards (such as notifications, matches and so on), which operate according to the logic of slot machines to maximize addiction. And kids’ induction into these technologies comes at a tumultuous life-stage of social and intellectual development. “Imagine trying to focus on quadratic equations with your cellphone constantly buzzing in your pocket,” says Lesley McLean, a Grade 11 History and English teacher. Schools are facing a constant stream of issues, she says, from naked pictures to bullying, and no one knows how to cope.

It is a bitter irony that today’s parents – who micromanage every facet of their children’s lives, from their diet and vaccinations to their cultural consumption and education – have nonetheless passively accepted this potentially noxious technology as an inevitable part of their kids’ future. Many parents of teens and preteens are openly thankful that we didn’t have to contend with new media when we were growing up – thank God that our every social feud, silly picture, or foolish remark was not catalogued for posterity online. And yet, when it comes to our children, we quietly relinquish our parental responsibility to U.S. tech companies, whose directives to “innovate” and “connect” now resonate so deeply that, apart from fusty appeals to nostalgia or neo-Luddism, we cannot even conceive of breaking from the narrative. We recognize that social media may be destroying democracy, but presume that its effects upon our teenagers will be nugatory.

That may be starting to change. In a recent talk at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth for Facebook, openly advocated for people to take a “hard break” from social media, which he claimed is “ripping apart the social fabric.” “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops – hearts, likes, thumbs-up – are destroying how society works. … There is no civil discourse, no co-operation, misinformation, mistruth.” His own children, he said, aren’t allowed to use social media.

If a former vice-president of Facebook has prohibited his own kids from social media, why does it strike us as inconceivable that we should do the same?

The trouble starts when we tell ourselves that smartphones will make our children safer, that these devices will enable us to monitor their movements at a time when many are starting to walk to school or take the subway on their own. Kids, of course, want the phones for their own reasons, to be able to connect with their peers through social media. We then tell ourselves that it would be cruel to bar kids from doing so; that it might even be socially ostracizing. What parents may fail to appreciate is the severity of the ostracization and exclusion that occurs within the social networks they fear their children may be excluded from.

Parents always begin with the assumption that “their kids will use their phones in a limited way,” Dr. Twenge, author of iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood, wrote in an e-mail. Or they “assume that if they spend lots of time on the phone it’s harmless – after all, parents use social media themselves and are ‘fine.’ It’s easy to be optimistic and not expect your kid to be the one who suffers the consequences.”

But kids may, in fact, suffer the consequences. As we learn more about the link between new media and mental illness, about the ways in which such media has been engineered to addict, parents should remind ourselves that smartphones are a consumer choice subject to parental discretion, not a harbinger of some preordained digital future. We should recognize the distinction between “convenience” and “safety.” We should no longer pretend that the smartphone is merely a tool, that what matters is how it is used – while ignoring the ways in which we are in turn programmed by the devices themselves, the ways that they use us. And we could stand to take ourselves more seriously: If we are thankful for our own unmediated childhoods, why sentence our kids to psychic lives of distraction?

Above all, however, we must no longer passively accept the logic of technological determinism – that our own parenting decisions and values must adapt to serve the economic interests of tech companies. Every technological innovation, Marshall McLuhan once observed, brings about a corresponding amputation. It is the right of every parent to decide not only when those amputations should come, but if they should come at all.

How to raise a kid who won’t quit

Persistence is a hot topic among education researchers these days and for good reason: It’s critical for success in school and beyond. Here are 8 tips for nurturing this quality in your child.

Determined, diligent, tenacious, persistent — we use these adjectives to describe Olympians, spelling bee champions, entrepreneurs, and success stories of all kinds. Do they describe your child?

Angela Duckworth, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, brought this stick-to-it quality to the attention of educators and the public with her 2013 book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Gritty people, Duckworth’s research shows, finish what they start, overcome obstacles, and achieve their goals.

Researchers continue to examine how so-called “soft,” noncognitive skills like grit affect academic success as it becomes increasingly clear that these qualities are even more predictive of achievement than intelligence or talent. While there’s still much to learn about teaching kids to buckle down and work hard, research suggests there are lots of ways parents can support the development of this mindset. Here are eight ways to nurture grit in your child over time.

  1. Let them play

Just like adults, kids tend to work harder when they love what they’re doing. What’s the best way to help your child discover what they’re passionate about? Let them explore freely and widely.

“Before those who’ve yet to fix on a passion are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around, triggering and retriggering interest,” writes Duckworth in Grit. Exploring the world through family outings, media, exhibits, new people, and extracurricular clubs, classes, and lessons can spark lifelong interests.

To form an enduring passion, Duckworth claims, that first spark of interest needs to be followed by many subsequent encounters that will trigger and retrigger your child’s attention. So if your child’s curiosity is piqued by any topic from acrobatics to zoology, you can support their nascent interest by offering additional exposure to that subject.

Note that this does not mean packing your child’s every waking moment with scheduled activity; make sure they have plenty of (screen-free) downtime to fill with self-chosen projects of creative discovery.
2.  Help them practice self-control

Self-control is the quality that comes into play when your child has two possible actions to choose from, one that promises immediate pleasure, the other not as pleasurable in the moment but that serves a more distant goal. Post to Instagram or practice piano? Play a video game or study for a math test?

Perhaps not surprisingly, self-control is closely related to the ability to work toward a goal over time. Studies have shown that higher levels of self-control early in life predict how well kids do academically, as well as a host of other positive outcomes including adult earnings, savings, and physical health.

While researchers aren’t clear exactly how self-control and grit are related (it’s possible to have one without the other), the good news is that self-control can be learned. Playing games like Red Light, Green Light and Simon Says, rewarding kids for delayed gratification, making sure kids get enough sleep, and limiting their TV-watching are all associated with helping kids develop the ability to control their impulses, which may translate to an ability later to resist the siren call of their smartphone and focus on that history essay.

3. Aim high

Many studies have shown that kids work harder and do better when their teacher has high expectations for them. Parental expectations matter, too. High achievers who persevere in the face of challenges tend to come from families with high standards for their academic success and a home environment that supports learning.

Healthy achievement doesn’t arise simply out of high expectations but, paradoxically, out of feeling secure, notes Diana Divecha, developmental psychologist and researcher with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

“Opportunities to stretch, opportunities to be trusted and respected, and the experience of being supported when necessary all help to foster a child’s belief in success. And of course keep your priorities straight and reassure them of your love no matter the outcome,” she says.

4. Praise the process

If you want to raise a kid who is eager to take on challenges and is not deterred by obstacles, don’t praise him for being smart; it may make him reluctant to try something harder for fear that if he fails, it will reveal that he isn’t so smart after all.

The research of Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, shows that when children are praised for their intelligence or talents, they avoid challenges and are less resilient in the face of difficulty. But when children are praised for hard work that paid off, they are more likely to seek out challenges and keep going when things get tough. They are more motivated, more persistent, and more successful.

Switching from person-praise to process-praise is easy: just refer to what the child did, not who they are. Compliment the carefulness of the sewing project, the gutsy attentiveness displayed in the basketball game, the well-organized time management used in studying for the final exam.

5. Encourage goals big and small

Helping your child set short-, medium-, and long-term goals that resonate with their personal values and interests can teach them persistence, according to Duckworth in Grit. An example of a short-term goal for your sixth grade daughter might be an A on her science final, a medium-term goal could be winning a medal in a city or state science fair and a long-term goal would be receiving a science scholarship to attend college.

Your child’s goals should be in what educators call the “optimal zone” — not too easy, not too hard, but just right. Research shows that hard goals can help your child focus their attention, work harder, and develop strategic thinking. But if a goal is so difficult that it’s beyond their ability to achieve, they may be setting themselves up for anxiety.

6. Extracurriculars help

Activities outside of regular school hours, such as sports, drama, debate, Scouts, or music, are a great context for learning how to work hard at something over time. New York Times columnist Bruce Feiler, author of The Secrets of Happy Families, writes that Michelle Obama made each of her daughters take up two sports — one she chose and one they chose, so that they would have the experience of working at something they may not necessarily like and seeing improvement.

Research shows that students who participate in extracurricular activities get better grades and have higher self-esteem, lower rates of depression, and lower dropout rates than students who don’t. Kids who devote more than one year to the same activity are more likely to graduate from college; and sticking with the same activity for two years or more increases their odds of employment soon after college.

7. Imagine that

When it comes to developing tenacity, studies show that visualizing a future goal — and the potential obstacles to achieving it — really works. In one study, high school students were instructed to imagine a desired future outcome and then visualize possible obstacles to that outcome. The exercise improved high school students’ persistence in studying for the PSAT. In another study, kids were asked were asked to visualize a possible adult version of themselves. Next they listed positive and negative forces that could help or derail their progress toward becoming that person, along with strategies for success. Two years later, students who had participated in the exercise spent more time on their homework and had higher GPAs than kids in the control group.

Our takeaway? When kids spend time visualizing where they want to be and how they’ll get there, they’re more likely to work hard.

8. Do a style check

How would you describe your parenting style? Permissive? Hands-off? Authoritarian? Research suggests that your parenting style can affect how determined your child is. Spoiler alert: An authoritative parenting style, one that’s firm yet warm, seems to be the sweet spot. Myriad studies indicate that kids with authoritative parents have more positive outcomes, from less drug use to greater well-being. And research suggests that the authoritative style, with its high expectations and high responsiveness, has the greatest effect on academic success.

Authoritarian parents may make more decisions for their child, while permissive parents may lean toward letting kids figure it out on their own — in both cases, missing opportunities to help kids learn how to make good decisions. An authoritative parenting style is one that guides — children of authoritative parents are instructed to think carefully, weighing their options and consequences. These children obtain an advantage in developing self-confidence, willpower, and self-discipline — qualities associated with a gritty character.

by: Hank Pellissier

Age-Appropriate Chores to Fit Any Family

Getting help around the house is somewhat of a chore, in and of itself, as tasks that need to be done won’t always fit your “cleaning crew” and their set of abilities; thus, the need for age-appropriate chores grows alongside your family. Small children generally love helping with anything you’re doing, and older children are more likely to need a list and some gentle prodding. Making realistic chore lists for your little ones isn’t as complicated as it might seem to be, however, as the larger piece of the cooperation puzzle is compromise. Making chores reasonable, realistically timed, and fun can drastically improve morale around the house. Here are some age-appropriate chores that each group should be able to achieve:

Age-Appropriate Chores for Ages 3 to 7

Preschoolers and young children are the easiest to get enthusiastic (albeit hyperactive) help from. Though their motor skills and attention spans aren’t yet fully engaged, young children can do their part through short, simple tasks made fun. To kick up the entertainment factor, try playing happy, upbeat dance music while doing chores. The kids will love the opportunity to wiggle and move while completing their daily tasks! These tasks might include the following:

● Making the bed

● Cleaning windowsills

● Wiping lower cupboard doors in the kitchen

● Emptying small trash cans

● Putting folded linens into the proper drawers or on shelves

● Picking up their own toys and keeping their play space neat

● Drying and putting away silverware while dishes are being washed (minus the sharp utensils, of course)

Be sure to make your little one’s jobs easier by giving them a stool to stand on and their own cleaning towels. Bonus fun points are awarded if you can find child-size versions of your adult cleaning tools, such as brooms, dustpans, mops, and gloves! Practicing good cleaning habits with this age group will instill both a feeling of accomplishment and a lasting habit of cleanliness.

Ages 8 to 10

This age group is less likely to just volunteer a helping hand, yet, when given proper direction, tend to excel at age-appropriate chores. Making a chore checklist or rotating chart (for multi-child families) can reduce confusion and teach a lesson on personal responsibility. Older children are likely to want compensation for their contributions, which is part of another lesson in entering the workforce, but should begin to learn the difference between obligations and responsibilities. Remind them that the reward for completing these tasks is, ultimately, a clean and inviting space to live in, something that is taken for granted by a lot of people. Examples of easy tasks for this age group are:

● Vacuuming

● Helping younger siblings complete tasks as a team

● Sorting and pairing clean socks

● Setting and clearing the table after meals

● Bringing in groceries

● Watering plants, both indoors and outdoors

Though teaching lessons about keeping a clean home for yourself are important, a rewards system can greatly reduce your chances of seeing eye rolling and hearing complaints from your preteens. Instead of opting for monetary rewards, try a points system, where an accumulation of points awarded for completing tasks can be “spent” on a reward, such as a family camping trip or a pizza and movie night. Then, the whole family can benefit from the hard work you’ve all been doing!

Ages 11 to 13

Teens are often focused on friends and cellphones more than family and cleanliness, but that shouldn’t stop you from including them on the roster for the Clean House Dream Team! Since they’ve willingly taken on the title of “teenager,” their responsibilities can shift into a new direction, building on lessons learned from their previous chores and responsibilities. For example, simply feeding the dog can turn into caring for Fido’s basic needs in general, like cleaning up pet waste, brushing the dog, and keeping toys and pet beds tidy. A new set of more detailed responsibilities shows teens their own capabilities and can impress upon them the intricacies of growing up, like learning new skills and wearing more hats (metaphorically). Teenagers can aptly complete tasks like:

● Taking out the garbage

● Minding their younger siblings while you complete tasks elsewhere in the house

● Cleaning the bathroom

● Pulling weeds in the garden

● Cleaning windows

● Preparing small, simple meals for the family

● Folding and putting away clothes

As teenagers are subjected to homework and extracurricular activities, balancing housework and other obligations can be tricky. While trying to remain fair to the other members of your chore warrior tribe, remember that your teen will have to be flexible with chores and not with homework and school, which might mean putting tasks on hold to avoid interfering with good academic performance. Planning chore lists according to your teen’s school schedule can make for less hassle and more productivity, which makes for better attitudes all around!

Children helping in the community

Everyone needs to feel needed, and everyone wants to have a place to belong. Because screen time and after-school activities tend to eat up so much of our time in this day and age, the younger generation is less likely to know the satisfaction of a job well done, the thrill of being an active member in a close-knit community, and the joy helping others can bring.

Getting your children involved in their community is a great way to help them feel a sense of importance and belonging, and give them some time away from the screen to experience life and the world around them.
There are many ways to get your kids out of the house and contributing to the community. When deciding what kind of community service projects you would like to see your family participate in, consider the talents and interests of your children. If the work is appealing and engaging to them, they will be much more likely to go in with a good attitude and come out feeling accomplished.

Below are a few ways you and your children can help out in your community.

Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Children who enjoy cooking and serving food might be interested in volunteering at a local soup kitchen. To make the experience more fun, consider allowing each of your children to bring a friend along and remind them to chat it up with the folks who come through the food line. They may even leave with a few new friends.

Volunteer at a Fundraising Event

Every community has a variety of fundraising events each year. The organizers of these events are always in need of volunteers to help keep things running smoothly. By selling snacks or drinks, helping with set-up or break-down, or offering to perform (if music or dance is your thing) you will get to spend the day at a fun event while helping the community around you.

Plant Trees or Flowers

Many community spaces such as parks are in need of more greenery. Grab a shovel and your kids and start planting trees and flowers to make your community a beautiful place to be. Just be sure to get permission before you begin this project!

Pick Up Litter

One quick and easy way to help keep your spot on Earth clean is to pick up litter whenever you see it. By teaching your little ones to do this, you ensure that a new generation of community members will be committed to keeping their world pretty. To make an even bigger impact, set aside an entire day in which you and your family head to a local park to clean up. This can be a great bonding experience, and the reward is a nice, clean park to enjoy.

Visit a Nursing Home

Many people living in nursing homes rarely have visitors. Help cheer up these lonely folks by visiting on a regular basis. Have your children make and bring cards to share, sing carols around the holidays, bring a book to read together, or just sit and chat. Whatever your family decides to do while you are there, your new friends are sure to appreciate the company.

This is just a small selection of ways you could encourage your kids to contribute to their community. Sit down with your kids, consider all the options, pick one, and head out to make the world a better place.