At Performance Night, a night at which acting students at Gary Spatz’s The Playground have an opportunity to perform in front of talent representatives in the entertainment industry, I recently witnessed a doting father kneel in front of his little girl, Anabelle, 8 years-old, going on 30. He seemed to be more nervous than she was. Or maybe he was simply bursting with pride. And there was certainly much to be proud of. I watched her in the studio that was serving as a holding area as we prepared the kids to face their audience. As she ran through her material she was poised, personable, and focused. While standing in line with other kids, waiting to be shuttled to the performance area, her still little frame stood out among the restless movement of her peers, like a miniature adult. After the kids left the main area some of the other teachers and I stayed behind to wait for their return and struck up a conversation with the father of young Anabelle, who seemed to be as much in awe of her as we were. But as he described their home life it all began to make sense.
He told us that she had a list of chores at home. Already I was intrigued. Although the benefit of giving kids chores may seem like a no-brainer, my guess is that most families either don’t have them as part of their family routine, or don’t implement what they have attempted to establish. But the fact is that kids who perform household tasks on a regular basis have a stronger sense of self and self-esteem. They learn the satisfaction of completing tasks and of contributing to the family team. And tasks like sweeping, making the bed, and putting away groceries can help develop important motor skills. Yes, it may require some time and patience on the part of parents to instruct and supervise, but the long term outcome is invaluable. Studies have found that 3 and 4 year-olds who do regular chores develop a sense of structure and responsibility that contributes to them becoming successful adults. It was little wonder then that Annabelle seemed so grounded during this high-stakes evening where other kids were bouncing off the walls.
Anabelle’s dad also told us that one of the chores on her list was to practice her lines for acting class. She often enlisted his help and made sure that he had the TV off so that they could both concentrate. So not only does Anabelle have a sense of responsibility, she has a desire to do whatever she does the best she can. She’s a little pro! Okay, now I can’t claim that such a driven and mature attitude comes from the fact that Annabel does chores at home. Kids do have their own innate traits, after all. Her dad may have lucked out to have a kid with such a professional disposition. Or Annabel may be a result of the good karma he accumulated from his twenty-some years of working with kids. Full disclosure: Anabelle’s dad is one of our colleagues at the Playground, who has been there since its inception. It is nice to see the direct result of his care and nurturing manifested in this little being.
As another Performance Night approaches, I’m thinking I may take a little poll of the young performers and ask who among them have chores as a part of their lifestyle. Even if only a few answer affirmatively, at least a seed will have been planted, the first step to raising consciousness.
The Benefits of Giving Chores to Kids
by Katherine Lee
How Kids Benefit From Chores
by Laura Grace Weldon