Young children learn by ‘doing’. Their bodies are like one big sense organ and they take it everything that they see, hear and feel. Play arises from the body. The will guides all behaviour.
From birth to the age of 7 they are the great imitators. The way we talk, the way we move, the way we show our love. Rahima Baldwin Dancy from ‘You are Your Child’s First Teacher states “These impressions, which are taken in by the child without filtering or screening, find their expressions in play…a child will imitate not only the activity but the ‘soul mood’ or emotions present when an action is performed”.
This means we must strive to be worthy of imitation. Have you noticed how the young child loves to play house. They become obsessed with brooms and want to ‘wash up’ and help. This may make things slower but it is so worth taking the time to let them help.
You can choose to put the television on to ‘get the jobs done’ before you sit down and play or take your child to the park or you can include them in the work and they will love just being with you. They are ‘working’ but it is also play to them. They are doing something meaningful and enjoyable.
I have very fond memories of setting up the washing up water and letting them wash up (and quickly finding other items for them to wash up!). Combine each work activity with song and make the process joyful. Mary Schuneman, the singer and author of the ‘Naturally You can Sing’ series describes the importance of song “Singing can change the world; for when we sing, we change ourselves. We, the citizens of the world, are in great need of joy and peace, calmness and exuberance. When we sing we can create all of these moods, and thereby shift and balance our breathing and blood circulation.”
Children do not care what our voices sound like or even what the song is. How many silly songs can you make up? Repetition and light heartedness go along way when making up a song for a chore. That’s why I have found outsourcing the jobs at home quite at odds with the young child at home. How will a child learn if not by watching the mother or father?
Gathering up your child to get out of the house for the cleaners means that they grow up thinking that these are things you pay for. It sets up children in a culture where they don’t need to get their hands dirty. As children grow it is a challenge to get them to help with chores or to even keep their room tidy but I believe, from a young age, that we can teach them to be helpful members of the household, and in turn, helpful members of society.