This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.

To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Life Skills

I don't think learning always has to be about knowing letters, numbers, how to read, or something you actually have to sit at a table and practice. I try to remind myself that learning comes in lots of different forms. It's not just my job to help my children learn academic skills, but also life skills. I remember growing up my dad would always say that his responsibility was to see down the road for me as best he could, and to help me grow into a great all around person. So I try not to accept things about my girls as permanent. Maybe she can't sit still well for extended periods of time. Some of it is age, and maybe some of it is that I need to help to her help herself. They can't focus? Ask yourself what you can do to help them learn this skill.
I find that a lot (some legitimately and some not) is blamed on age and/or personality. I remember my world changing when I walked in to observe a Montessori classroom when I was a public school teacher. The kids were working on academics and real life skills. Math, letters, but also things like pouring their own snacks onto a glass plate and washing it when finished. Or hanging clothes up on hangers and putting them in a little closet.
So aside from academics, what kind of real life skills can you help your child learn? I'll be you'd be surprised what a 2 year old (or even an 18 month old) can do.
I've had to abandon some of my type A personality and let some things go. It's not going to look like it would if I had done it. But eventually, with practice, it will be great. Or at least to a point where you don't feel the need to go behind them and fix it.
Here's a list of things I allow Charis to do around the house. Feel free to add to the list! I'd love some new ideas!
1. Her most recent favorite....Peeling hard-boiled eggs!! They look a little crazy when she's done, but I usually use hers for egg salad or something anyways. Great fine motor activity and focusing skill.
2. Scraping her plate when finished. If your child can carry a plate, you may want to let them try scraping it into the trash when finished with dinner. It takes some skill and hand strength (and likely some help from you) to balance and scrape at the same time.
3. Rinsing plates. While I stand with her, she rinses plates off in the sink and then passes them to me. I then put them in the dishwasher. She adores playing in running water.
4. Reverse #3. I rinse and she puts in the dishwasher. This one is tough b/c it requires some hand-eye coordination to get the plates in the right place so they aren't laying flat.
5. Passing me the clean dishes from the dishwasher.

6. Sorting the silverware. I remove all knives and sharps first and then let her sort. I showed her the places where they go, and then let her try.
7. Measuring and pouring soap into the washing mashing.
8.Do you have a salad spinner? Let them spin the salad greens dry!
9. Putting the salad together. I separate all the parts (tomato, greens, cheese, etc) and let her design the salads.
10. Feed the dog! (or cat, bird, whatever) I put a cup in the dog food container and let her scoop it out. Our pup is happy to clean up any spills! I also let her carry the empty water dish to be refilled.
11. Set the table- Yes, this includes breakable glasses and dishes. I set them on the counter and she carries them one at a time to the table. RESIST the urge to straighten things up. The first few times all the plates ended up at one end of the table and silverware haphazardly laying around. She was proud. That's what's important.
12. Making hot chocolate-A winter favorite! We've made it almost a tradition. You can let them squeeze the chocolate and mix. We do a stove top version with cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla. You can also choose a number and count that many marshmallows on the top! It's fun for them to help scoop and whisk. And really, can you have too much chocolate? It's one of those things that's hard to mess up.
13. Dipping bread for french toast! Fun, but messy! Whisking eggs? Serving up the plates?
14. Clean the floors. When I mop, I give Charis a sponge and container of hot water. She loves this.
15. Choosing the vegetable for the night. A fun way to get them involved in meals. Just the other day my 2 year old chose broccoli to go in the pasta and ate it. Success! I just said "Should we have ____ or ____ with dinner?"
16. Sort the laundry- There's lots of versions based on skill. Have them find all the socks and put them in a pile. Can they find their clothes? Just shirts? Carry hangers? Carry the clothes to the correct room? Sort by family member?
17. Load the dryer- I set wet clothes on the dryer door and she pushes them in. I also let her push the start button.
18. Help dust, clean windows, wash baseboards- She has her own spray bottle and cloth. Even just a little rubbing helps...she's occupied and stuff is getting clean!
19. Pick up- We do a hunt for toys that are misplaced. We make it a game and try to clean it up as fast as possible and take it to the correct room.
I was desperate for a #20 to make it even, but this will do. :) Remember to let them get involved in what you are doing. I even give her light grocery bags to help carry in the house.
A few things to remember-
1. Keep it fun, if possible. I usually have 1 thing she does a day that she doesn't particularly enjoy, but that she helps with. The rest I try to make fun. She'd be horrified if I made a batch of muffins without her. :)
2. Don't do everything in one day. If they want to spend the day by your side cleaning, go for it!! But don't feel frustrated when your 2 year old doesn't jump for joy over washing baseboards. I try to follow the JustMommies Cleaning Calendar, which ends up breaking things down nicely for us.
3. They aren't going to master egg peeling (and other things like this) in a day. Or a week. But it's great to see them try.
4. As you go through your day, try to think of how they can be involved with you.
How about you? Any ideas you want to share?


Harmy said...

K loves vaccumming - we shorten the hose a bit for her. its a good arm strengthening activity too. And sorting the laundry into colours is really great for them - its learning AND a life skill. (lus, with 2 girls we always have a really big pink pile). Oh and K makes her bed in the mornings too. She grabs one corner and I grab the far corner and she pulls up. In the summer - cleaning the car and weeding the garden is fun for them too.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

What a great point about learning not always being letters and numbers. Especially for preschoolers practical life skills are crucial. I'd rather have a class of 25 kindergartners who don't know any letters but are polite and know how to follow simple directions, go to the bathroom independently, and tie their own shoes. Makes the teacher's job a lot easier when all they have to teach is academics :)


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