So many “parenting” and “early childhood education” articles and blogs come to my attention from browsing Facebook. Just recently this article responding to a list of “Age Appropriate Chores” showed up in my feed. In it, a parent notes that some parents have “complained” about the list as dangerous or imposing on children. Others are proud and verge on bragging about how early their children are engaging in these tasks. The author of this particular article spends the bulk of her article talking about how, at least for her, it’s hard to follow through even when she wants to engage her children in chores and taking on responsibilities. It’s often fast, easier, or calmer to just do them herself. Or she forgets, because she’s always done them. As an early childhood educator, I have seen parent after parent incredulous that their two year old child, whom they lovingly and patiently dress, feed, and carry to school, dresses, feeds, and cares for her/himself once at school. We strive to provide as many opportunities as possible for children to not only learn the self-help skills they will need to master to take care of themselves, but the community skills they need to fully participate in communal life. Not only does this make them better “citizens” in our community, but it teaches exactly the kind of “academic” and “social” skills they will need to succeed in Kindergarten, elementary school, and even high school and college.
But even we, as educators, fall into the “it’s easier to just do it” trap. We set up snack so it’s ready to go while the children are at Movement; pre-cut shapes for the children to paint or trace; handout or spoon out snack into plates or bowls so it’s less messy. These and other examples are our “faster, easier, calmer” excuses. And inertia plays its part as well – we’ve always done it a certain way, which makes it that much harder to try something new! However, we’re motivated to push through and do it differently because we know when we do that children learn one-to-one correspondence by counting the cups as they set places at the table; they learn to pre-read when they recognize the words or images on the crackers and Cheerios boxes; they gain motor skills and confidence when they design their own work and take the time to create it, start to finish.
Everything we do has meaning, and everything we do is an opportunity for a child in our program to learn and grow in their skills and knowledge. We commit to helping them learn and practice their “Age appropriate skills” at school Will you join us in working on “Age appropriate chores” at home?