Children love to imitate adults and will love to help around the house--especially with these fun ideas.
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Have you ever looked to see how many methods are out there to help convince children to do chores? How many books aimed at parents, and how many storybooks there are about characters who find out doing chores is fun? Just goggle “how to get kids to do chores” and you’ll be overwhelmed by the search results. Surely one of these magic methods works!
Well, I certainly never learned the magic while I was a parent. More often than not, I just did the work myself rather than fight with them. If only I’d known about the simplest approach! My youngest was 7 when I first learned about the Montessori approach to teaching children to help care for their environment. They call it “practical life”, and it’s very simple:
Give them them right-sized tools to help, and let them help you as you care for your home. Young children love imitating adults, and if you give an 18-month-old a rag, he will help you dust. Give a three-year-old a mop and a spray bottle full of water, and she will help you clean the floors. Show a two-year-old how to fold laundry or put away clean silverware, and you’ve got a willing helper. Will you get spotless floors or perfectly folded clothes? No, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to let them help take care of their home and belongings from the earliest age possible.
In the book Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans,
author Michaeleen Doucleff points out that in ancient cultures, children worked alongside their parents as soon as they were able. A review on The Booklion shared, “In western culture, we tend to separate our world from our children’s. We set them up with child-friendly activities while we do the dishes, laundry, and cooking on our own. But young children, Doucleff claims, want to help with the family. They can spray, wipe, stir, hold tools, and fetch things. The trick is to do chores with the child; it’s an opportunity for closeness and teaching rather than isolated chore charts and commands to clean up certain rooms.” (read the full review—maybe the book is one you want to share with your grandchild’s parents?)
How can grandparents help raise helpers? Here are some fun gifts that can be used in real work around the house:
Although it’s sold as a toy, the tools in Melissa & Doug Let's Play House Dust! Sweep! Mop! 6 Piece Pretend Play Set are study enough to do more than pretend. My grandkids have had a blast using them all.
Cleaning cloths in fun colors are more fun to use. I was happy with the quality of these: DecorRack 8 Pack Kitchen Dish Towels.
Though it’s hard to find spray bottles kids can use, these little bottles are the right size for little hands. Tolco Empty Spray Bottle 8 oz. Frosted Assorted Colors.
This child-safe knife set will get your grandkids helping make dinner! Tovla Jr. Knives for Kids 3-Piece Set. And they’ll love helping even more with one of the adorable aprons from Urban Infant. It was hard to choose from the many designs!
You know I'll always include books, but finding children’s books that modeled this approach was tricky! Most of them, like The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Chores, start with the premise that children don’t want to help.
Elizabeti's Doll, by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen , shows a family where the children are naturally responsible for much of the family work. My grandchildren love it! There are two other Elizabeti books that also model the same concept--and are equally engaging stories!
Another fun one is Laundry Day by Jessixa Bagley. Although the badger brothers get a little carried away with their helping, it's still a great example of pitching in.
Can you think of any books that show the children as partners in caring for their home and family? Please share them in the comments if you can!