Things that “count” as “work”

I sat at the kitchen table with my head in my hands. Turns out that 10 years of teaching was not nearly enough preparation to homeschool my 4 year old. I’m serious. He’s respectful, polite, and adorable so I’ll give him that, but I can’t get him to do anything. After a loooooong discussion about whether to sort buttons by shape or color, we finally set off on our task. I immediately realized dumping the whole bag of buttons on the table was a mistake, but regardless, there we were. I coaxed. I cajoled. I handed buttons to him to put in the appropriate pile. I answered question after question about how much longer this was going to last and when he would be “done.” I sighed. A lot. I wondered if I had ever really been that good at teaching.

Then little W got the idea to build a road for his fire trucks using the buttons. Of course! Game changer. We made heart roads, circle roads, and square roads. We made oval bridges and hexagon hills, and we got all those buttons sorted! I shared our (my) struggle with a wise teacher friend, and she responded with every objective we had achieved. Spatial awareness. Continuity. Assembly. Order. She was right. Look at all we had accomplished from building a road!

I was grateful to her for a reminder that maybe things were going better than I realized. Couldn’t we all use a little bit of that reassurance right now? So, let us remember that “work” goes way beyond online assignments. Let us remember that there is value in every moment, every activity. Let us remember the importance of grace and patience with ourselves and our children. Let us remember that being together is enough, that we are enough. Let us continue to raise children who are capable, confident, creative, and determined. Let us send those children back to our teacher heroes who are tirelessly working to bridge the gap as we ride this out together.

In the meantime, here are a few examples of some very important “work:”
Taking a walk
Making a bed
Getting dressed independently
Making breakfast
Organizing a closet
Climbing a tree
Writing a letter
Baking a cake
Raking leaves
Washing a car
Folding clothes
Making a grocery list
Washing dishes
Building a fort
Drawing a picture

Stay patient. This shall pass. You can do this. You are doing this.

Find the joy,


Jessica McCauley, M.Ed. is a parenting coach/consultant. She draws on her background as a Montessori educator and Child Life Specialist to help families navigate the challenges of the early childhood years. Contact Jessica at for more information or to schedule a consultation.