You’ve probably come across one or more articles that extol the virtues of getting children to help around the house. They make the point that children who do chores have better relationships with their parents, get higher grades, and even achieve more success in their professional lives as adults.
While this all sounds great, many parents will argue that the possible benefits of getting your children to pitch in around the house are just not worth the arguments and head-butting that precede chore time. If having household responsibilities is so good for our children, how do we get them to willingly participate? If you’re a parent of young children, you’re in luck.
The first strategy for success is to involve your children in household chores from an early age.
Let’s think about ways in which even young children can contribute to keeping the home running smoothly:
A one-year-old can put toys in a box; a two-year-old can wipe low shelves; a three-year-old can set the table; a four-year-old can feed the dogs. Think of three activities your young child can help with… You’ll be amazed at what you discover!
The second requirement for childhood chore success is providing the right tools.
Imagine trying to clean your carpets with a vacuum cleaner that’s six feet tall and weighs 200 lbs. Well, that’s how your child feels when he tries to accomplish chores using the adult-sized equipment!
Maria Montessori’s work was groundbreaking in part because she developed child-sized tools that allowed children to do the same type of work they saw their parents doing at home. She discovered that, when they had the right tools for their tiny hands, children loved to work and benefited tremendously from their activities. Thanks to her vision, we now have access to hundreds of child-sized items that can make your children’s participation in their home’s upkeep a breeze. So, you’ve decided what tasks are right for your child, and you’ve invested in some child-sized tools.
The third – and most important step – is to work together.
You can view chores in two ways: as annoying obligations that must be gotten out of the way as quickly as possible, or as valuable opportunities to spend quality time with your child, help them develop life-long skills, and observe their progress. Just like reading together gives your child a positive feeling towards books, doing chores together helps them see housework as a happy and enjoyable part of their day. Pick a chore that doesn’t have to be done quickly and a time of day when you’re both rested and focused. Present the activity as you would any other Montessori material, and remember that, especially for very young children, the process is more interesting and satisfying than the end goal.
Acknowledge their progress and appreciate their contributions in the same way you would like to be recognized for your work and most of all enjoy!
My Montessori Parenting Program gives you the skills and confidence to develop household routines that will set up your child for a lifetime of success. Contact me to discover how my program can support the entire family!
You can read a follow-up article on the importance of child-sized tools here The Power of Child-Sized Aprons and Sponges
For more tips on how to introduce Montessori activities, read The Nine Key Points to Sharing a New Activity with Your Child.