As kids grow up, it's important for them to have their own spaces, learn some reponsibility with regards to taking care of their things, be able to become independent and feel that they are contributing to the family.
Here are a few ideas for easy ways to change your home environment so that kids can do more for themselves, enjoy their space and help out around the house:
Life is More Fun with Music
Most of us find this out very early - kids love music!
- Sing with kids,
- Play all kinds of music in the house,
- Encourage kids to make or use musical instruments.
There's quite a bit of research that show how babies benefit from music, and how playing an instrument enhances learning in children.
Make It Easy to Put Things Away
Kids need simple ways to help keep toys corralled - think the 3 B's: Bins, Baskets and Buckets!
Bins can help kids sort and quickly put toys back where they belong, buckets are great for use in the garage or yard, and books can be neatly stored in baskets near your child's favorite reading area.
Another idea we use is to draw a 'parking spot' using sidewalk chalk so the kids know where to put their bikes.
First, an empty spot is a reminder that something needs to be put away. And second, no stay bikes leaning on or near the cars :)
Display Their Artwork
This really is a huge deal for kids! When kids create something, they want to be able to share it with others. Every family and home is different, so find a place that fits your life --
- Some families hang artwork on the fridge or bedroom doors,
- You might choose to frame it and place it on shelves or the mantle,
- If you're short on wall space, kids would love to make their own 'art porfolio' (use a 3-ring binder to collect all their pictures and make sure it's avaible for them to look at whenever they'd like to or 'show off' when others visit).
Get Things Within Their Reach
If you haven't already learned, kids will get what they want -- some how, some way. So why not make it easy for them before you catch them climbing up the shelves to reach their toys.
- Place frequently used (and parent approved) toys and books at their level.
- Make sure to have step stools in places, like at the bathroom sink or in their closet, so they can feel more indepenent when learning self-care skills such as hand-washing and getting dressed.
- Assign a bottom shelf in the fridge for kid-size items (juice boxes, water bottles, small snacks).
- Hang removeable hooks on the closet doors so it's easier for kids to hang up jackets and clothes.
Have Kid-sized Items Available
It's always easier for kids to do things if they have items that fit their size.
- Some of the obvious items would be eating utensils (fork, spoon, cups, etc), a rake or broom to help with clean-up or a small table for them to sit at for coloring/projects/etc.
- Less obvious ideas might include a children's dictionary (teach them to look up words at a young age), a child's apron so they'll offer to help in the kitchen and small canvas bags so they can carry library books or help at the grocery store.