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But why should children help with the washing?

Young child helps their mother with washing the laundryLearning through DOING is the most effective way. More neural pathways, the connectors between one part of the nervous system to another, are created though real three-dimensional experiences. Just ask Benjamin Franklin, who said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”.

So why is it important that children assist with the clothes washing?

Firstly, it is an activity that needs to be done. So there is no adding to a parents’ already busy day. Secondly, there is an abundance of skills that can be learned by an infant and child through assisting with the washing.

Lets start with watching and listening. For an infant, this is how they develop language. It takes no more physical effort or time to talk about what you are doing. “Here is the dirty washing in the basket. Lets take it out. It needs to go in the washing machine. Can you hear the washing machine filling with water?” Look at the concepts in this sentence – opposites clean and dirty and then prepositions – out and in. You are also teaching the infant to locate sounds in their environment. This is auditory processing, learning to know sounds and understand them.

Here is an example: “We need to divide the washing into groups. Towels, darks, lights, handwash”. Describing the washing and then grouping them is developing the language of classifying. Grouping is developing a basic numeracy skill of looking for patterns. It develops the concept of colors having a basic identification but can be slightly different in their shades and still be the same.

“Here is Daddy’s BIG socks, here are Mummy’s MIDDLE socks and here are your LITTLE socks.” The numeracy skill of size is developed which is important with numbers and learning for example in identifying which numbers are bigger and which are smaller.

READ: Another great post from this author: So why should children use cutlery?

Then as the child gets older, they can assist with the grouping and the color identification. These are only some of the learning examples that can be drawn from assisting with the washing. Orientation, the concepts of inside and out, front and back, and top and bottom.

As the child gets older there is the potential to develop physical skills. Gathering clothing and putting it in the basket – upper limb and hand muscle development, orientating the clothing and folding – skilled upper limb development and using pegs – fine motor development. If your little person is at an appropriate age, try giving them a multi-peg and getting them to hang the socks and underwear. It is a win-win situation.

Give your baby the best start. Please involve them in the clothes washing!

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One comment so far -

  1. I hope the washing machine in the photo has a childproof lock on it. A little one might decide to see if he/she will fit in it. When children are old enough they can learn to “start” the machine. They need to be older than that to handle the detergent safely.
    My brother is a few years younger than me. Once during the school holidays he stood and watched what Mum was doing. After awhile curiosity got the better of her and she asked him what he was doing. He told her he was watching what she did so if she got sick he could do some of the washing after school. I was at work. I knew how to use it but he didn’t because he was usually at school or playing sports when the washing was done. Bear in mind that it was in the 1970s. Guys had no idea to do it as they were never shown.

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