Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Return and Report

I was recently asked to share some hints and helps with the concept of returning and reporting.  I have been thinking about it a lot this week.  How can we make returning and reporting an easier part of our family routine?  Before we can answer that question I think we need to establish what is "returning and reporting" and why should we do it.

What is returning and reporting?  When someone is given an assignment they are expected to return to the person and give a reporting of the discharge of their responsibilities.  Within the church the concept of return and report is found with those given stewardships and callings.   

In the parable of the talents we learn that a man who "travelling into a far country" gave three servants talents to do with "according to his several ability... After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them."  (Matthew 25: 14-30).  This parable illustrates an example of return and report.

Elder Romney said in a welfare training,
"Remember, brethren, to return and report is the final act of the faithful and wise steward."
We also see examples of return and report in our temples, Personal Priesthood Interviews, each April when the financial report of the church is read in General Conference and within the visiting and home teaching programs.  Returning and reporting is our way of being responsible for the stewardships we have been given.

What does that have to do with the home though?  I present that our greatest stewardship is with our family.  Within our family at the close of the day I return and report to Heavenly Father regarding my stewardship in being a wife and mother.  I explain my successes and my frustrations and I seek guidance on how I can carry out my responsibilities better.  I also kneel down in prayer with my spouse each evening and we also pray about our stewardships together.  I think we all do this, but I haven't always recognized it as a time that I return and report.

In a physical sense the biggest way that return and report is carried out in my family is during our family work time.  When we have family work I give an assignment to a child and they are expected to do it and then return to me and tell me they have completed the job.  This is helpful for practical reasons in a couple of ways.  The first is that I know the job was done.  For example my son Imagination (9) often forgets what he is doing.  On a way to a task he might suddenly "see a dragon jump out a closet and he must save the family from the forces of evil." After he has successfully saved us he has forgotten what he was assigned to do in the first place.  So when I haven't seen him in a while I know that the task wasn't done as opposed to hours later when I "assumed" the bathrooms had been cleaned. 

The second reason is that when they report I am immediately able to check on their work.  This ensures that the work is done correctly during family work.  In the past I found that I wouldn't notice the sweep/mop job until much later.  Since it was much later I usually would just "fix" the job instead of them learning from their mistakes.  I wasn't helping them improve and on the rare instances when I did call them back they were irritated at being interrupted for work when they were in the middle of another project.  It just helps everyone! Yesterday for example Liberty (12) vacuumed the living room five times before she was checked off.  But at least it was done correctly during work time instead of later.  Hopefully she will also learn that it's much easier to just do it right the first time!

The third reason is simply to teach them a spiritual principle in a physical situation.  Much like the Law of Moses.  Learn the physical first and the spiritual will be more readily understood later.

These principles can be applied in any area of family living.  Establishing a clear routine for home education that includes return and report is also a great way to teach responsibility.

How can we teach return and report in our home?  Now to finally answer my friend's question.  This is what I did/do with a few other suggestions.
  1. Teach them correct principles.  This is my number one rule when I teach my children anything that involves their cooperation.  I/we teach them the principle in a family council.  We discuss it.  We back it up with scriptures and living prophets.  We discuss some more.  They ask a lot of questions.  We continue to discuss it until they will all commit to living it.  This is half the battle of course.  When they understand the truth they are willing to live it.  The next hardest thing after this is remembering!
  2. Write down the assignments you give.  I haven't had to do this but perhaps it may be helpful to some.  You can make your cleaning list (or school plan) out a head of time and include space to write who the assignment was given to.  You may even want to write what time the assignment was given and have a space to check when they were signed off as done.  This is good for us list makers.  I think I'm talking myself into making a list now....
  3. Keep assignments short. In the beginning it may help you and them to return and report if they have five or ten minute assignments verses longer assignments like "do the laundry" or "clean all the bathrooms." Instead it could be clean the toilet and then report back to me for a report check. This can also prevent a job that is in the process of being done poorly from completely bombing an hour later. This will save tears and mistakes if the correction is made early on.
  4. You can make a game out of it.  Perhaps you can make a game about beating their time each week cleaning the toilet.  Of course they know they have to do it right, but if you have a list you can be keeping a record.  That wouldn't be at the top of my list to do, but I would give out beans (Bean Counter Game. See recipe #5 in Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning) every time they remembered to return and report for example.
These are of course ideas. See this post here to generate more ideas about return and report and teaching them correct principles first. Regardless I hope that I have articulated the concept of return and report and you can see the value of it. How do you use it in your life?


Donna said...

What a great post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

Jenp8 said...

Thanks for articulating this for me. I think the part about giving small assignments and then having them report sooner (rather than later) is what I need to do. And keeping track of the assignments I give. Family work time will be a great opportunity to get this habit established!

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

This is an area I really need to work on! Thanks for listing out how you do it. It's nice to glean ideas from others' experiences.

P.S. The link to the other post with more ideas isn't working. It says instead of a specific post.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

The link should be fixed. Thank you for letting me know!

Mr. Smith said...

Thanks for the post, this is an area of needed improvement in our home.

Being A Mother Who Knows said...

Mr. Smith Welcome! I've enjoyed your comments on Misfit. And I like your wife. : )

Jocelyn Christensen said...

Hi there - Thanks for your wonderful posts! And thank you for adding our buttons for the Family Proclamation celebration! We'll see you there!

desertskyquilts said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this. It helped me write the invitation to sisters to come to VT Interviews!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, I needed a topic for work and i threw out "return and report" your post has been very helpful to getting ideas on how to explain it lol. Thanks