Taking this Opportunity to Teach Life Skills

We’re all stuck at home, with occasional forays to Fred Meyer to pick up the groceries we ordered on our phones and the troops are getting weary of what we have to offer. The teen is done with algebra for the year, the eight-year-old only wants to be practicing her skateboarding techniques, and the four-year-old you’re teaching is really just stuck on Paw Patrol.  And Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Foster Mom are stressed and needing help. Well, here it is…at least for the four-year-old and the adults. Quarantine is the perfect time to teach some life skills…but there’s a need to give up a bit of perfectionism.

So what are some of the life skills a preschooler can begin to learn?

  • Make her bed (no, it won’t be hospital corners;)
  • Take the sheets off of his bed and get them to the laundry room;
  • Help with laundry…put clothes in the washer, into the dryer, and then help with folding (matching;)
  • Clean up toys and materials and organize (no, it won’t be your organization system;)
  • General cleaning…a preschooler can sweep and mop floors, wipe off counters (with some supervision…it entails climbing)…wipe up spills;
  • Help prepare meals…get items from the refrigerator, utensils from drawers, help mix ingredients, set the table, (how many plates?, pour liquids into glasses or cups (major motor and perceptual skill…how much is enough;)
  • Help clean up from meals…take plates and utensils from the table; scrape plates into the garbage; put plates and utensils into the dishwasher; find covers for leftovers (size matching,) unload the dishwasher (matching…cups and plates as well as matching where they go in the kitchen;)
  • Self-care…brush teeth, wash himself in the tub, put on his own pull-up if that’s needed, wipe her face, comb hair, choose her clothes and dress herself with some help;
  • Yardwork…dig up those dandelions; water the garden and flower pots;
  • Writing letters…although they may only create a page of random letters and pictures, the idea of communicating with someone from afar (real letters, e-mails, texts) is a valuable skill. They should choose someone to write to…Abuela, a friend from class…prepare the ‘letter,’ put it in an envelope, seal it…adults can write the address (but maybe have the child ‘read’ it to you,) apply the stamp and a return address sticker, and take it to the mailbox;
  • Learn important names and numbers…child’s, parent’s, or caregiver’s first and last names, addresses and contact information…four-year-olds should be able to begin to learn this information;
  • Feed and water pets (with some supervision, especially re amounts), groom pets.

And, by the way, those Paw Patrol pups…they are helpful…

’no job’s too big, no pup’s too small.’

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.