This was prompted by watching breakfast one morning in October 2017. We always ask the students to clean their own spots at breakfast, snack, and lunch – this includes anything and everything that may need to happen. Throwing away trash, placing extra unopened food at the center of the table, wiping up spills, and sweeping up crumbs. We expect that we are leaving the eating area as clean or cleaner than when we first got there.
However, that particular morning, some of our Otters were struggling to clean up their spots. To me, it suggested that not everyone consistently requests that these kids clean up after themselves. Some have just stood there, waiting for someone else to explicitly tell them what to do; others just walk away and leave the mess for someone else. As much as possible we call them back, but that’s not always realistic.
The job may not be done perfectly – but that’s okay, because they are trying, and I guarantee they are proud of their contribution. (If you do this at home, do not go through behind them and do a “better” job – who wants to try something when they know someone else will go behind them and do it all over again? What’s the point?) The job may also not be fast – the time to hand over responsibility may not be when you have a very important meeting in ten minutes with your boss. Plan for practice and teaching how to handle a new job/responsibility – which means plan for time.
Our message to adults everywhere: trust that kids can take responsibility and do things on their own! The job may not be done quickly or perfectly, but kids need the vote of confidence and handed responsibility in order to grow and learn.