Activities Small Children Can Easily Do at Home
Helping to unload groceries
Put all the bags on the floor. Let your child hand you things to be put high on shelves. You child can put away things that are stored in low cabinets. (Keep in mind that some things may be too heavy to be lifted by a small child.)
Turning a water tap on and off
Call your child’s attention to the dust. Invite to join you. Show where to find a small cloth or soft brush to use. Show how to wrap the cloth around the fingers and wipe the dust away in slow, careful strokes. Point out how to change the position of the dust cloth on fingers as dust that is collected is noticed. The brush can be used for carved furniture, nooks, and crannies. Show the proper place to put the soiled cloth so it can be cleaned.
Most children love to run vacuums. Show them how to connect the parts of the vacuum. Make it very clear that an adult must plug in. Show them how to turn it on and off and how to clean different parts of the rug.
Find a small hand broom and dustpan. Show how to sweep the dirt into a pile. Hold the dustpan and sweep the dirt into it with hand broom. Carefully carry the dustpan to the wastebasket and empty it.
Setting the table
Have your child help you count how many plates, napkins, and utensils you will need. Let them help you carry all necessary items to the table one thing at a time. The adult should set one place as an example and then the child can set a place for each family member. Be sure that necessary items are stored where the child can reach easily.
Putting toys away
This is a habit that must be established by encouraging your child to replace each toy on the shelf after it is used. They should put one thing away before they choose the next toy to play with. This makes cleanup more manageable and less overwhelming.
Other activities that children enjoy:
- Rolling socks
- Folding laundry
- Watering plants indoors and outdoors
- Helping wash a car
- Watering plants inside and outside
- Raking leaves
Small children truly enjoy these activities and being able to help you. When your children do activities to help care for themselves or the home environment, appreciate it regardless of the result. Work that is done with joy and delight needs little praise, but children want to know that what they do is valued and appreciated. Do not redo any part of their projects in front of them, and if possible, do not correct any part of them at all.
As your children get more practice and become able to manage the physical part of the activities with ease, they will begin long “cycles of repetition.” These cycles of repetition are often annoying to adults. However, they enable children to work with interest, and eventually, with concentration.
Socially, your children will go through three main stages:
- First, they will do an activity for themselves and their inner needs
- Later, they will be able to work at the task occasionally when asked. At this point, children are starting to control their own will.
- Finally, (much later) they will help any time asked or whenever they see a practical need for a task.
In the beginning, it will be difficult for your children to do water activities without making a big mess. Have several beach towels on hand to help clean up water. Several times later, there will be very little spilling, and the children will be able to do most of the cleanup themselves. During this time, it is important for the adult to maintain a friendly attitude and a sense of humor! Remember to appreciate your children for what they do, and what they try to do, to help.
The most important aspect of a person’s personality and intellect develop through participation in the everyday life of the family. Order, sequencing, independence, self-control, self-respect, and the joy of learning and accomplishing something purposeful are encouraged through these practical life activities. Children live to work. From this vital work of building a human being, they derive the joyfulness that learning through discovery can bring. All of this will result in a person who enjoys the lifelong feeling of self-respect, independence, and concern for others.