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.
- 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!
- 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....
- 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.
- 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.