This post originally appeared on the Children's Learning Activities blog.
Cleaning and other work doesn't need to be boring in order to be an effective teaching tool for children. There is nothing wrong with making cleaning an enjoyable experience for the family. Here are some ideas to make cleaning fun:
- Music: Turn on some music to keep you moving! Sing and dance as you clean.
- Adventure: Turn it into an adventure. Dress up in your adventure clothes, find the messes, and attack them with your sponges and cleaners. We like to go on "treasure hunts" after a holiday. For example, we will go on a treasure hunt for our all of our Christmas decorations after Christmas is over. We find the decorations and bring them back to a designated spot. If something is too high to reach, the kids tell us where it is. This helps cut back on those missed decorations you find the day after you put the boxes away!
- Cinderella: My friend shared this. She and her girls pretend they are Cinderella and clean the house. When they are done cleaning, they dress up in their princess dresses and have a princess party.
- Chore Incentives: You can do chore cards, chore jars, sticker charts, lists...whatever keeps everyone motivated. Mix it up from time to time. Nothing will stay motivational forever--you need to change what you do every so often.
- Focus on the Serving: "Thank you for cleaning that! That is such nice service you are doing!" Use positive talk to thank your child for helping with the family chores. Even if something is "your job," it is nice to be thanked for it.
Doing chores around the house does so much more for a child than simply teaching a child how to work. Honestly, if all my child learned from chores was work ethic, that would be enough for me. People I admire in life are hard workers and learned how to work hard in youth. There is so much value in work ethic.
It will help your child be better citizens and most importantly better spouses and parents. I have in the back of my head a great gift I want to give to my future daughter-in-law--I want to give her the gift of a husband who is helpful in the home and is a hard worker. My mother-in-law gave that to me and I love it!
Work helps our mental development. It helps our character development. One of the best ways for me to get my five year old boy talking about his feelings is to work beside him for an extended period of time. At first, he talks about surface topics, but as time passes, he is soon talking about matters of his heart.
And on a more simple level, chores help children develop fine and gross motor skills. They help with colors (like when sorting laundry). You can work in shapes and counting.
There is so much value to work! But remember that it is okay to keep work fun.