“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, ’The children are now working as if I did not exist.’”
As always, teaching children Practical Life Acrivity is very important. Little children gain an immense amount of confidence when they are able to successfully complete everyday tasks. Our goal as parents should be to help our children learn to manage by themselves, guiding, directing and helping them when it is needed.
Washing dishes is an excellent Practical Life Activities that will help children be independent. This is also an activity that is in the Montessori Curriculum prescribes by Maria Montessori. You may think that your little one will not like it but trust me – soap, water, sponge?? What’s not to like!!
Of course the first few times your little one does any washing, it will have to be followed up by you doing it again just to make sure that everything has been removed and no soap remains, but as time goes on, they’ll learn to get better. So if you are looking to start household chores with your little one, start with this exercise around the time your little one is 3 years. By the time he is 5 years, he would have mastered it and you can have him do it most times as he grows up. It’s really an age appropriate task.
Remember, as you start off with this task, it’s best to start with a plate that is not too heavy, not made up of ceramic or glass and certainly one that is not too big and can be easily managed by little hands. What you might look at is a size a little bit bigger than a side-plate.
So let’s get started:
Things you will need:
- Aprons – one for yourself and one for your little one
- Low sink or a steady foot stool to reach the sink
- Dish wash
- Dish drainer
- Kitchen towel
How to start:
- As with all our Practical Life Activity, the best way to help your child understand what to do it to start with washing a dish yourself.
- Start with putting on your apron and your little ones.
- Partially fill the sink with water and pour the appropriate amount of dish wash into the sink. Using your hand, mix the soap into the water. Your little one will love joining in this one! Remind your little one that you just need the smallest amount of dish wash to help you wash. J
- Now demonstrate how you use the sponge and clean the dish/plate on both sides.
- Proceed with one of two more plates, showing your little one slowly how it is done.
- Remove the sink plug and let water drain.
- Opening the tap, rinse all the plates, placing each one in the dish drainer when you are done.
- Now teach your little one to wring out the sponge and clean the sponge.
- Remind your little one to return the sponge and dish wash back to their places.
- Now it’s time to demonstrate how to dry the dishes. Demonstrate how you hold the towel with one hand and the plate with the other. It’s best to teach your little one to hold the towel with the dominate hand.
- As each dish is dried, place it on the counter.
- When all are dried, return them to the plates to their place of storage.
- Teach your child to remove the apron and place both the apron and towel in a place where they can air.
As your child gets older and of course the following occurs, you can teach your child to clean up any spills from the kitchen sink and clean up more soiled up plates. Remember, there will be instances of little hands slipping and dishes slipping and breaking – remember to let your child know that it’s okay and it doesn’t matter since you know he was helping out. Also remember, do not teach very young children to clean up broken dishes and plates J
Your little one will quite enjoy cleaning up with soapy water and will feel thrilled that he’s helping out Mummy at home. Remember to congratulate him for being a Big Boy and remember how he’s feeling – you’ve just helped him realise that he can do just about anything if he set his mind to it.