Jason and I have always said to our kids, "Humrichous kids are hard workers". We have also taught them that after we work is when we play. They often hear us say, "if you don't work, you don't eat". Lastly, during the remodel of our house, we continued to tell the kids that last year was the year to work (and we sure did) and this was our year to play (and oh, boy are we!!!). This summer I am convinced more than ever that teaching our children to work is HUGE in our parenting. In a culture that has so many conveniences, I am reminded at how we have to look for opportunities to teach our kids to complete "tasks". I am amazed at how many parents do so much work while children watch countless hours of television or play video games.
So...how have I done this? First, from a small age, I have taught our children to throw their own diaper away or to get trash bags out to put in the trash can. They learn early and I love their faces when they feel a sense of accomplishment. Second, we are very measurable in our "work time". The older children (7,5 and 4 years old) work with me in the morning primarily. I tell them how long we will work, what their jobs will be, and what we will do when we are done. This really helps them see the "light at the end". Lastly, an invaluable resource that has helped me find age appropriate jobs is this great book. It is called What Every Child Should Know Along the Way by Gail Martin. It is available at http://www.gfi.org/. You might check it out. It also contains some great information on manners, character and other teaching tools.
We have a friend that visits our home in the morning. Often she asks to take a couple of our kids home with her. In the hour she is here, Benjamin has vacuumed the floors, Lynnea emptied the dishwasher and baskets of their own laundry are on their way up the stairs. Our home can stay neat (most of the time) and our kids take ownership as well!