But actually, our little ones are not only capable of taking on these tiny tasks, they enjoy it and it’s great for their development on many levels.
MercyCare Thornlie Early Learning Centre Manager Leah Mizen said giving children small tasks from an early age helped increase their confidence, independence and their willingness to try new things.
“Getting them to help with small jobs means using their problem-solving skills, they learn to work together and they’re becoming more independent,” Leah said.
“Even something as simple as putting their own socks on, for young toddlers that’s a big achievement and something they’re really happy about.
“In our kindy room, the children will scrape their plates, separate utensils; they’ll help to tidy spaces, wipe tables, put away toys and generally look after their environment.
“The toddlers will wipe tables and chairs, put the bibs out.
“Some children will help set up for an activity – they might help the educator set up tables or chairs and materials.
“By doing a task over and over, they’re learning a new skill and getting better at it every time so they’re growing in confidence and think, ‘yes, I can do that’.
“That motivates them for their next achievement, which is really important.”
Of course, not all children have a natural curiosity for these kinds of tasks, and some may need encouragement to try but Leah says it’s worth introducing the idea at a young age.
“It’s important that they have fun, that they’re interested in it and enjoy it; I would never try and force it because that’s when it becomes a chore,” Leah said.
“It goes to preparing them for real life and the idea that we all need to chip in and share the load, especially at home.”
Sharing small jobs like unloading the dishwasher and clearing the table after mealtimes has taught Leah’s own son and daughter that these jobs are for everyone – “not just for girls and not just for boys”.
“I think it’s also important to give children the opportunity to learn through risk, through activities things like cooking and preparing food,” she said.
“They learn by experience and it’s important we give them the opportunity to learn those skills.”
So, what tiny tasks can you give your child at home?
The list is endless, but here are some ideas.
- Wiping the table after meals
- Laying the cutlery
- Packing away toys and books
- Emptying the dishwasher
- Putting away groceries
- Taking out the rubbish with Mum or Dad
- Gardening – raking, watering, planting…there are hundreds of little jobs for tiny hands in the garden
- Collecting the mail with Mum or Dad
- Caring for pets
- Packing something in their kindy bag eg. Hat/ drink bottle/ lunch box
- Helping to put their washing away
Tips from Leah
- Keep it simple and fun
- Start with two or three tasks that they can do over and over
- Reward them with praise and cuddles
- Start young