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Grandparents' column: Young children enjoy helping with family chores

8:22 PM, Feb. 26, 2013  |  Comments
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Young children can be part of the family cleanup team when they are given a small job where they can truly be useful. To find more ways to help children be responsible, succeed in school, and develop a life long love of learning see "Learning through the Seasons" at wnmufm.org for podcasts and grandparentsteachtoo.org.

Gathering

The skills used in helping around the house are the same skills used in school. It's like the old saying that all you need in life are the skills you learned in kindergarten or preschool.

Gathering is an important skill. When children learn to follow an adult around the home and gather clothes to be washed, they are learning to categorize. They are checking for similar characteristics, in this case dirty clothes. You can choose a task that is age appropriate. They may help by looking under the bed for dirty socks or under the couch for who knows what?

They can help bring everything to a central place ready for the washing machine.

Sorting

Sorting is another activity important in math and science that can be learned and reinforced at home. Explain to young children why the family sorts dark, light, white, and towels into different piles for the wash. Practice sorting with the children and double check the piles. Will there be errors? Sure. Explain why something dark might need to go into a special pile separate form the dark pile they chose. There are always exceptions. This is also true in math and science. Including young children in chores may take more time at first, but this is valuable family teaching time.

Preschool children can also help load the wash machine with adult or teen supervision. This task is important for both ages. They can also help remove clothing and place them in the dryer.

Once the clothes are dry, children can help sort and fold simple items like socks and underwear. Some families purposely purchase different styles of white socks to make it easy for young children to distinguish for easy sorting. That is really thinking ahead!

Teach children to read size numbers on clothing labels. That is a very useful reading lesson and will help them sort. As long as adults teach age-appropriate skills, make the job a game, praise small steps of learning, and end with a story and a snack, young children will usually enjoy helping with family chores.

What else can we do?

Some families also have color coded dirty clothes bins- a dark bin for jeans and dark clothes, a white bin for light clothing. This system makes sorting easy because young children can be taught to place the correct type of clothing in the correct bin and sort every time they change clothes.

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