Learning 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.
Watching and listening
Let’s 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. Let’s 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.
Grouping and orientation concepts
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.
Physical development and fine motor development
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!