Thursday, July 21, 2011

How to Make Work a Fun Learning Experience for Kids

I won't kid you (no pun intended) is not always fun. But you already knew that! Your children will soon figure that out, too. And that's o.k. There is merit to doing things we don't necessarily like to do. Life is full of those jobs! (I have yet to find out how to enjoy cleaning up after sick children.) We can't let our kids stop a job just because they are no longer enjoying it! However, here are some ways we try to make things a bit more enjoyable in our home....and teach them something at the same time:

 --Empty the dryer into a laundry basket with me. Slightly more helpful than emptying clean laundry from the basket all over the floor.
--Put toys back when done playing. I haven't mastered this with this child yet because frankly, I'm often busy and I have an older child do it. My other children enjoyed this and we would clap when they successfully got a block or toy in the basket.
--Work on outlet training while I'm cooking. He sits beside me on the counter and gets curious about outlets. After sitting there and hearing my "Ah!" when he tries to touch it, he avoids them now. (Not exactly work, but something he needs to learn, nonetheless.)
--Take him with me as I do other chores and let him watch. Never know how much he is absorbing for later on.

--Match socks together. This is a good way to work on colors, sizes, and matching sets.
--Play sock basketball. After the socks are all matched, we toss them into drawers and cheer when someone makes a "basket". Big brother likes to join in on this, too.
--Puts away silverware. This has been a good way for him to learn what a fork is versus a spoon. He used to use the names interchangeably. He can also distinguish between big and small forks most of the time. 
--"Helps" me cook. He loves to mix scrambled eggs or watch as I cook. I give him little jobs, and he thinks that he's "big stuff".

--Taking dirty laundry to our basement laundry room. He loves to show me how strong he is by toting the "heavy" basket down the stairs. Strength training!
--Putting things away. He actually surprised me the other day by voluntarily folding each pair of his underwear and organizing them in his drawer. If you knew my impulsive son, you would be greatly impressed by this progress!
--Loading the dishwasher. He is getting much better with this since I told him dumping dishes wasn't acceptable. He does his work quickly most of the time so he can get on to the next activity.
--Emptying the trash from the upstairs rooms into the kitchen trash.This is another job where he can show his "strength". An unexpected learning experience from this was he learned to tie a knot when he tied off the tops of the trash bags.
--Peels potatoes. Since I use potato peelers, my kids have learned to peel potatoes pretty young. My son still thinks it's fun, since it's kind of like using a knife.

--She loads the washer and the dryer for me and brings up the clean laundry and occasionally folds. Not sure how much fun she has with this, but she likes to pretend like she's a "laundress" in a grand hotel or bed and breakfast so it at least goes quickly. You can't argue she isn't learning valuable life lessons!
--She unloads dishwasher and cleans most of the bathroom. At this age, it's difficult to make fun games out of chores, but she does have a big imagination and makes her own game.
--Helps chop veggies and make a few simple things like scrambled eggs and baked goods. She even did a pot roast in the crock pot all by herself once since it mostly requires chopping and tossing things in. This is something I don't have to make a game of: she genuinely loves working in the kitchen.

These are just a few ideas, really. I'd love to hear yours in the comments!

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