Teaching Young Children to Help

We knew from the beginning that we wanted to make sure that Tilly had a very active role in life here on the homestead.  When she was first born we would wear her while doing everything from cooking dinner and picking apples to stacking firewood and feeding the chickens.  From that young age she saw us working and became used to seeing these chores getting done.

Now that she is getting bigger (she’ll be 2 in November, can you believe it?) we have her working right along side us and we love it! She is learning that living on a homestead involves work and she is gaining skills that will help her through out her life.  Even more importantly, she is learning to help.  Sure, I could probably accomplish all these tasks a lot faster by myself but sometimes the lesson is more important than the time it takes (or the quality of the work).

5 Ways to Teach Children to Help

1. Toy or child sized tools: Tilly has her own pot, spoon, little cups and other things that she plays with while I make dinner.  It keeps her busy while I am cooking and also gives her time to practice using those items.  She also has a bucket and shovel for when we are working in the garden.

2. Clean up time: We have clean up time every night before bed.  We go around the house and pick up toys and other items and put them back where they belong.  Tilly has always seen us doing this and now readily helps out when we declare it “clean up time”.

3. Observation: We have always made a point to keep Tilly a part of everything that we are doing.  She has seen us working, cleaning, and cooking from the time she was an infant in the baby carrier.  The more she sees the more she learns so we are sure to give her a front row seat.

4. Start small:  Start with simple things like putting the crayons back in the box or pulling the clean clothes out of the dryer and build up to harder or more complicated tasks.  Always be right there to guide them and make sure they see working along side.

5. Praise:  Keep your tone upbeat and shower your little helper with praise.  Be specific with praise and name the job they are doing “Wow, what a great job carrying the napkins!”.  The more specific you are the better, it keeps your praise genuine and helps the child to know that every thing they do to help is appreciated.

*How do you encourage little ones to help?


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