Monday, January 15, 2007

Practical education means fun for children

I believe that children should be educated not only academically but also practically. This means that I intend to train my children how to live, not just how to learn. If you have little ones, you probably already realize that your children love to imitate you. Take advantage of that to train them early to clean the house, do laundry, and cook. They will think they are playing a game with you.

  • A 12 month old is old enough to stand on a chair and "help" you wash dishes. Mine loved to play in the suds but would also help rinse the dishes I had washed. Don't try this if you are in a hurry or are already feeling impatient.
  • Buy a child-sized broom and dustpan so they can help you sweep. My 4 year old is getting quite good at sweeping, and even my 18 month girl can push the dirt around. The same idea works for mopping and vacuuming. One of my girls' favorite toys is a cleaning cart that has a vacuum cleaner, broom, dustpan, scrub brush, mop bucket, and mop. (The grandparents bought it at Wal-Mart one Christmas.)
  • My 4 year old daughter has shown an interest in doing laundry with me. She helps me sort the clothes as I direct and then sits on the dryer to pour in the detergent and other additives. As she pours them in, I explain why I use each one. I then let her pull out the knob to start the machine.
  • An infant who plays with toys can learn to put them back. (I confess that I have been lax in this area, but it does work.) When you notice that your child is finished playing with a toy, put it in his hand and guide him as he puts it back where it belongs. As you do that, say something like, "Put your toy back," or, "Clean up your toys." Eventually, you won't have to guide your child. Just give the command.
  • All my girls love to help me mix batter for pancakes. I let my 2 and year old girls pull apart egg shells that I have cracked when I need eggs in a recipe. They also get to dump in the ingredients after I measure them. My 4 year old sometimes helps me scramble eggs. I carefully tell them that if something is hot it will burn, and I reiterate it often. So far, no one has gotten burned because of being in the kitchen.
  • Don't demand that your children do a great job. Sometimes, they won't even finish what they start. Don't ask them to do more than they are able. Keep house work fun, and they will want to keep doing it. Let them know how much you value their help and what a great contribution they are making to the family. This gives them a heady sense of worth and accomplishment. Even a little child likes to know that they have done something well.
What do you do to involve your little children in running your home?

both photos courtesy of

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