Tuesday 12th May. Supporting Children to Develop Responsibility.

Sharing the Load

Trying to juggle working from home and entertaining /teaching / keeping busy a 4 year old is a challenge in itself. Not to mention trying to keep my home organised and get the housework done. An easy option on some occasions is to allow my child to watch some TV or play on the iPad however ‘nanny iPad’ opens up a whole new world of problems and I try to limit the screen time daily.

I found myself one day trying to give my 4 year old some toys or craft activity to complete on her own while I cleaned the bathroom. This became a stop and start job from the beginning and so when my daughter said “Mummy can I help you clean the bath?” I thought “Why not!” While initially this perhaps slowed the cleaning process down in time she has become really good at certain jobs around the house and it not only helps me out with the chores but also gives my daughter some independence and feeling of responsibility.

As a result she has become really capable at setting the table and helping prepare the dinner, she loves weighing, measuring and counting out ingredients to use. She is also really skillful at vacuuming the floor (she asks for the handle to be shortened for easier hold) and she is more than competent at loading the dishwasher and putting it on (also knows to ask for help to put the cleaning tablet in). Another good skill (or maybe it’s not so good) she has developed is to regularly encourage me to clean the bathroom and kitchen – e.g. “Mummy we need to clean the bathroom – I’ll get the cloths”.

Household chores: good for children, good for the whole family.

· Household chores are not only beneficial to getting things done as children can learn a lot from doing jobs around the home.

· Taking part in household jobs helps children learn what they need to do to look after themselves, their home and family. They can learn skills that they can use in their adult lives such as cleaning, preparing meals and sorting and organising.

· Another bonus to carrying out chores with your children is that relationship, cooperation and communication skills are developed.

· When children are given the chance to contribute to chores it helps them feel competent and can appreciate the satisfaction of completing a job.

· Perhaps most importantly sharing housework can help families work better and reduce family stress. Chores done sooner, parents have less to do, which means more time to do fun things together.

· Chores help children learn responsibility and self-reliance. Assigning children regular chores helps teach them responsibility.

How to get young children involved in chores

· Initially you could give your child the job of looking after their own toys – this shows their contribution is important.

· You could let them vacuum their bedroom then maybe another room. Encouraging responsibility and importance of hygienic practice.

· You could ask them to pick up their clothes and put them on hooks or in a drawer. This promotes organisation and sorting skills.

· You could give your child the job of setting the table for dinner and /or clearing the table at the end. This again encourages responsibility and participation.

· Working together you could get children helping to prepare meals – this encourages mathematical language as you weigh / measure and count ingredients.

· Children could also help to do the dishes. Encourage good hygienic practice and responsibility.

· You could get children to help put the groceries away – this promotes organisation skills. You could also get them to look at labels to identify products. This promotes the ability to read environmental print.

· Children could hand you wet clothes to hang up or hand you the required number of pegs. Or by using a chair to stand on and if children are able they could help to peg out the washing. This is good for developing fine motor skills; strengthening fingers.

· You could ask them to sort washing into piles – whites and colours or pick out towels / sort big clothes and small clothes. This promotes sorting and matching skills.

· Children could help by watering plants indoors and in the garden. Encourages looking after plants and caring for the environment.

· You could allow children to help feed pets or clean out cages / tanks etc… This encourages caring for others and responsibility for pets.

Even if the job is not done perfectly ensure you give them encouragement and praise and help them until they can do it.

By Carol Munro.