As children grow older, they learn lifelong skills that prepare them for adulthood and laundry is one of those skills. At a certain age, children need to learn to do some chores. You can start by teaching them to pack up their toys, take their plates to the kitchen or put their trash in the garbage.
Teaching them chores forms a basis for their character development and ability to become responsible adults in the future.
There are types of chores appropriate for each age group, but you can start teaching your children to do laundry from the age of six. Younger ones from four can also help if they would be in the laundry room with an older sibling who will take the lead while they help with the little tasks. Summer is a great type to teach them to do laundry because school is not in session and they have a lot of free time.
If you have a large family it’s a good idea to make a laundry chart and assign boys and girls to different days. This can only work if you have older kids who can guide the preschoolers and it will also teach the children about teamwork.
It is encouraged that while teaching your child how to wash their dirty clothes, you explain the reason why clothes are washed and what could happen if we wear dirty clothes. They are more inclined to understand better while you are showing them the laundry process.
If you are not sure about teaching your child to do their laundry, here are a few reasons why you should:
- It teaches them how to care for their personal possessions – After they have learned to wash and fold their clothes, they most likely will not throw it on the floor or around the room because they have an idea of where everything goes now. They know the dirty clothes go in the laundry bin and the clean clothes go in the drawers or closet.
- It gives you some free time to catch up on that Netflix show or the new bestseller. – Mommy needs to chill sometimes.
- It gives them a sense of accomplishment – It boosts their self-esteem that they were able to complete a task and help around the house.
It teaches them responsibility.
- Also for some weird reason, children think chores are fun because they can’t wait to do everything adults can, so why not let them have a little ‘fun’.
Here’s how to teach your child how to do laundry.
1. Make the laundry area child-friendly
To make it easier on them, be sure that the area is child-friendly and they have everything they need within their reach. Your child will also need a stool because they may not be able to reach the washing machine to load the clothes. Even if you have a front loader washer, they’ll still need to measure the laundry soap and push the buttons to start.
We cannot stress enough the importance of consciously repeating to your children that all the products they are using for the process are not edible. Lay emphasis on the fact that it is poisonous and can cause irreplaceable damage. Children are curious, they always want to explore everything and test it out, it’s better to let them know the consequences beforehand to avoid an incident.
To be safe, older children or teenagers should handle the detergents and any other products that may be used while washing the clothes.
2. Teach them to sort the clothes
Show them how to get the clothes from the laundry bins in different rooms and bring them to the laundry area for sorting.
This is a great task to engage the younger ones. You can make a game for them by playing matching colors or find the second pair for socks. It can also be an opportunity to teach them about colors or put their knowledge of color to use.
Teach your child to match a pair of socks, either by the color or the size. This improves their memory and cognitive ability.
Let them know that the dark colors, the whites, and the reds should be washed separately to avoid the colors running on each other.
While sorting, instruct them to check pockets for forgotten items and be sure to empty the pockets of every clothing item.
3. Teach them how to use the machine
This majorly depends on the type of washing machine in your home, you will have to show them specifications and direct instructions for each. If you have a front loader, teach them how to carefully open the washer and load it. Let them know the load size and tell them to avoid stuffing the machine with clothes.
Explain how much detergent each loads need. Most detergents now come with a measuring cup, so that makes it easier for them to appropriate the right amount to each load. Show them the buttons for washing and explain what each button does.
Tell them how they’ll know when the clothes are done washing and the cycle is complete.
You should also mention to them to always get an adult to help out if it looks like something is wrong with the machine or the water supply. They should not attempt to fix it or even get close to the power outlet.
If you can make a rhyme or a song out of these steps, it will definitely help your child remember.
4. Show them how to work the dryer
Show them all the buttons and let them know the uses of each. If you use a wrinkle-free spray, sheet or ball, show them how to use it and how many to use while telling them what it is for. Show them how to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer gradually.
Also, they need to know how to clean the lint catcher before and after drying. The dryer should not be overloaded too.
5. Folding and storage
Teach them folding techniques and where each items go. Some folding techniques are pretty easy. You can teach them how to fold with a cardboard or a folding board (you can buy this on Amazon.
It’s better to show them how to fold continuously until they get it. That way, you’re saving yourself the worry of folding it again after they are done. Children are very sensitive and you ‘re-folding’ their clothes may even hurt their feelings because they feel like their hard work is not appreciated. Show them how you expect it to be done and applaud their efforts regardless of how imperfect it might look. You may want them to start with smaller pieces of clothing like theirs or their siblings.
Let them watch you as you fold and show them step by step methods on how you fold each clothing item. Then teach them to put away each clothing item where it belongs and how it should be arranged. A drawer may be more appropriate for children because they may not be tall enough to maneuver the closet.
This will probably be easier for everyone if you label each segment of the drawer with the name of the clothing item that goes in there. Make it more fun by adding pictures too. This exercise will teach them organization and how to be a neat and tidy individual.
To make laundry time more fun and effective, explain each step carefully to your child. Let them know the motive behind everything you’re doing so it makes sense to them. Let them know what might happen if they don’t follow the steps to the letter. For example, let them know that colors might run and ruin their favorite shirt if the clothes are not sorted out properly.
Teaching your children to do laundry can be easily turned into a bonding activity and have conversations with them while they’re sorting or you are supervising. It’s an atmosphere relaxed enough for them to open up and talk to you.
You may need to show your kid a few times before they get a hang of it. You need to be patient as possible. Children ask a lot of questions. Explain multiple times if you have to and supervise them for the first few times. Let them take the lead this time while you only correct their errors and answer any questions they might have.
After a few tries and they get good at it and handle it on their own, we still suggest that you subsequent check on them while they’re doing laundry to be sure they are safe and handling the laundry chemicals appropriately.
Because children will always be children, emphasize that it’s only clothes that should be washed in the machine, not people, not pets. Don’t assume they know the right thing.
Remember to praise them when they do it right and correct them with love if there are errors. If you teach them self reliance they’ll be grateful for it eventually. After all you won’t be there in college doing their laundry for them. Eventually, they’ll be great at it and that’s one chore off your list.