What Makes Childhood Magical? Part 12: Helping Out

Letting Children Help

At first, letting kids help would seem to be the opposite of a magical childhood but involving them, where possible, contributes to feeling important, trusted, and capable. We all like to be included and that’s also true for kids.

appropriate chores for kidsDo you remember times from your childhood when you were allowed to help? I remember helping to knead dough, sprinkle the cinnamon, and spread the raisins for my mother. When I stayed on the farm with my grandparents, I would walk with my granddad and check the animals in the barn. Of course, there were times when I didn’t want to help and still had to. That’s part of the learning process too.

letting kids help around the houseThere are appropriate ways that even very young children can help. Putting toys in the toy box can be a game as much as a chore. Kids can pick clothes off the floor and put them in the laundry basket. Occasionally, you can pretend to get mixed up and almost pop them in too. Make sure they understand the joke and enjoy the silliness. Kids are closer to the floor than we are and like to give it a sweep or swish. With a big, old sock over each hand they can help dust. If they have moved out of cribs, they can help make their beds.

Grocery shopping with kids takes more time than if we just go ourselves, but when we do get home, kids can help put away some of the items. In the kitchen, kids can wash fruits and vegetables, and be involved in food preparation and clean up. A sink of warm water and a squirt of soap is a sort of magical formula for fun.

These are just a few of the ways that kids can be part of the action at home. Both inside and outside, there are things that kids can do. Best of all, while we might call this work, to kids it can feel like another way to play. How does your child help at home?

Spring Cleans Up With Fun and Learning For Kids

including kids in chores for learning and funA gray rainy day meant we spent more time inside today than outside. There were some things that needed to be done so we got a start with the spring cleaning. Do you include your kids with chores around the house? Having kids help with with tasks where appropriate also helps them learn responsibility, pride in what they do, and other skills for life and kindergarten readiness. For kids, this ‘work’ can be as much fun as play!

Kids have fun getting things and themselves messy and dirty and they also have fun cleaning up. The list below is only a few of the ways that kids can ‘spring clean’.

  • Small plastic toys spend a lot of time on the floor. With a small cloth and some warm, soapy water in the sink, or a bin on the floor surrounded by big towels, let your child wash a few cars, trucks, trains, blocks, toy dishes or whatever else may need a rinse.
  • It’s easier for kids to wriggle under beds than adults. Turn your child into a vacuum that will reach any lost items that are hiding there in the dark.
  • Transformed to be a giant machine and armed with a laundry basket send your child around a room to pick up anything off the floor or that needs to go somewhere else. Sorting these out later is great for categorizing skills.
  • Tongs are fun to use to pick up duplo and lego or other small toys off the floor and pop them back into toy bins.
  • Vacuums come with built-in sounds. Mops can also be dirt vacuums and kids can supply the sounds. What sounds can a mop make? Vroosh?

spring cleaning fun for kidsBesides exercising brains, there’s lots of physical movement. Social skills include learning how to be part of a team and cooperating with others. Emotionally children gain a sense of accomplishment and feelings of belonging. For a play-of-the-day, are there some spring cleaning activities that your child can do?

Cleaning Up

This weekend, we had to do some major cleaning in preparation for company and Big Sister, who is 4, said “Oh, this is so much fun, we should call it Clean-up Fun Day.” Similar to the saying: One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, a new one could be: In the eyes of a child, what adults call work can be play.

helping children with kindergarten readinessCleaning the tub and the walls is not my favorite activity. I spread a gentle, non-toxic foaming hand soap on the top part, rubbed, rinsed, and polished. About half way down, Lee asked if she could help and danced around with excitement. Since she needed to get into the tub to reach, she took off her clothes and clambered in. Spreading soap all over the walls and sides of the tub was so much fun she used both hands, getting foamy all over herself too. Together she and I rubbed. We made up words to rhyme with rub-a-dub-dub, we’ll scrub the tub. It was easy to rinse her off as well as the tub. When we were done, both she and the tub were sparkling clean. It was easy at that point to clean the floor; we just wiped up all the soap and water.

Your agenda for the day may not include cleaning the tub, but your child can help in other ways. Kids can help dust with a soft cloth or feather duster. Using a spray bottle to squirt soapy water on a table and then a sponge to wipe it off is so much fun that kids need to be guided as to what else to wash. The chair seats and floor mat in front of the sink do not need to get squirted with soapy water.

Unfortunately, this enthusiasm may not last much longer but in the meantime, cleaning can be enjoyable to a child. Soap and water are a sensory experience and kids get to make a mess with it. Children know that cleaning up is something that adults do so they feel more grown up. Knowing how to clean helps with kindergarten readiness, when children will need to have some independent skills for clean-up time at school. Is there some cleaning-play that your child can help do today?

Learning Fun At Home With Dishes

Do you remember nursery rhymes that you learned as a child? Jack and Jill, Little Bow Peep, Little Boy Blue, etc. How about this one: Hey Diddle, diddle the cat and the fiddle. The cow jumped over the moon.   The little dog laughed to see such sport and The dish ran away with the spoon. … Continue reading Learning Fun At Home With Dishes