Boston — Every child in every school should, each day, have at least one chore to do. Admittedly, providing all children with a chore will mean that fewer adult staff members are required to support the work of teachers and administrators. Hence, it may take attrition of support staff before youngsters can be used to replace them.
But youngsters need to do daily chores --school costs -- but because doing chores is educationally sound.
Under adult supervision schoolchildren can mow lawns, trim hedges, rake leaves, shovel snow, wash windows, scrub, wax, and polist floors, run ditto machines, dust, tidy storerooms, reshelve library books, and on and on.
Jobs should rotate among the children and older, more experienced youngsters should supervise the chores done by more immature children. This kind of work-sharing will necessitate only a few adult supervisors, further reducing the maintenance and repair budgets at educational institutions and at the same time providing older youngsters with leadership training.
First graders, for example, might be in charge of all wastepaper throughout the school premises.
Billy, for a week, might be assigned to pick up and dump the wastepaper from the library area. While Maryanne might have the wastepaper from Room 6B on the second floor.
These primary grade pupils would be expected to take their trash to a basement room, between 9 and 9:15 every morning where John and Helen, two 5th graders, would be in charge of seeing that the waste is bagged and placed in proper containers for the trash pickup.
And two other first graders, as their daily chore, might be sent with a pair of sixth graders to walk the perimeter of the school grounds after the lunch period picking up all trash that has "escaped" from proper containers.
Any use of motorized equipment, would necessarily require adult supervision, but older youngsters with permission from parents should be able to help keep school grounds in beauty and order all seasons of the year.
Such chores could be reserved for those who have been faithful in doing chores throughout the school years -- providing a grand incentive for first-grade Billy and Maryanne to do well enough to earn a commendation from their student supervisor.
Time was when children had so many home and farm chores to do that it almost seemed cruel to give them school chores as well.
But that is no longer the case, and many too many urban and suburban children don't learn what it is to carry out a job efficiently, intelligently, promptly, and consistently until they are out of school and may have lost the first few jobs because they had never done chores.
It won't cost schools a cent to give pupils work experience -- and may even lower the school budget.
Next week: Chore reports