D, my 2 year old, enjoys helping me do things around the house. So, whenever I can, I let her! It’s a great opportunity for me to show her how to do things, let her practice doing them, and then let her do them independently when she is ready. All the while, we are talking and embracing a ton of teachable moments.
For example, I needed to go grocery shopping today. It was a rainy day, and the girls were a little stir crazy so all 4 of us went to the store. Here is a list of some of the interactions we had while shopping:
- Talked about the rain and umbrellas on the way into the store.
- D: “What are you looking at?”
- D: “Where are we going?”
- Me: “Can you and Daddy go get bananas?”
- D: “What’s that?”
- Several people spoke to both girls so it was an opportunity for them to practice social interactions.
- We talked about it being cold in the freezer section.
- D helped put items on the conveyor belt in the checkout line.
The real fun (and learning) happened when we got home.
- D carried a bag upstairs to the kitchen. We had to find one that wasn’t too heavy. 😉
- We always put the bags on the floor now because D insists on unloading them. “I do it!” She will grab an item and either tell me what it is or ask me what it is.
- Then we talk about were it goes. Does it go in the pantry, the cupboard, the fridge, the freezer, or somewhere else? Since my husband was watching my other daughter, I was able to expand on this even more. She had a bag of frozen vegetables in her hands and asked what it was. I told her to look at the picture and tell me. She said, “Carrots…corn…peas…grean beans.” I told her that was right, but there is also another name for them – “vegetables.” (She learned a new word and used it the rest of the night.) Then she asked about where to put it. I asked her if it was cold. She said, “Yes.” Then I asked her a question I’d never asked before…”Where do you think it goes…the pantry or the freezer?” She said “pantry” so we discussed how cold things need to stay cold, and we felt the inside of the pantry and freezer to see which was colder. She decided the vegetables should go in the freezer.
- After a while I asked her if she wanted to do something else. “Yes!” I gave her a box of Keurig coffee pods and my K-cup carousel. She sat on the floor and happily put all the K-cups in the organizer for me.
- “I want to do more, Mommy,” she said, so she was back to unloading bags. She grabbed the ground beef, and said, “This is squishy.” Luckily I was able to get it from her with only her thumbs’ impressesions (instead of holes).
- When all the groceries were in their proper places, she put the empty bags where they belonged (something that we had worked on previously).
Please note – this is not the way we do groceries every time. It’s just not possible. We have to have plenty of supervision for my other daughter since she is too little to help out right now. We also have to have the time and energy (because it definitely takes both of these).
At first, it may seem a little weird to put all this effort into a routine activity such as this. However, what do you have to lose? After a few times, it’ll become more natural. It might start as just an activity for you to incorporate learning, but it can become a special activity that you do with your child. At the same time, you are also teaching your child how to do something that can eventually be done independently by them. Now that’s a win-win!
Does your child help you do any routine activities around the house? If not, do you think you might want to try it?