Don’t take a break from teaching life-skills during the holiday season. What’s a simple, easy task that everyone needs to know how to do? Laundry!
Another way to use this skill during the holiday season? Being a blessing to someone else, offering to launder linen and clothing for those who are unable to leave their home or who may have a budget so tight that they cannot afford detergent or the laundromat.
Whatever your reason, I think we can all agree that we want our children to learn skills that will serve them in everyday life. Skills like washing dishes, cleaning up after themselves, cooking, and doing the laundry. Our children will be adults one day and we want them to be prepared. But how do you teach them these skills?
This how-to guide starts at age three and ends at age 12 because the hope is by the time children are teenagers they will be able to do their laundry from start to finish.
Preschoolers (3-5 Years Old)
This is a fun age range and teaching them skills is always shaped like a fun bonding time or game. That goes for laundry too. Your preschooler won’t even know that they are learning a skill. They will just think they are spending time with mom or dad.
At this age, the focus should be the very basic foundation of laundry.
Taking the Laundry to The Laundry Room
This is not something they can do alone. Not in the beginning. The clothes will be too heavy. But they can start by helping you. Give them a hand full of clothes to carry to the washing machine. Another option is to lightly load the basket and let them help by carrying one side or help them push it to the laundry room.
This will give your preschooler a sense of accomplishment. The most important part is to always acknowledge their effort with smiles, kind words, and high fives or hugs.
Putting the Laundry in the Machine
Putting the laundry into the machine can be a really fun game. Ask them how many pieces of clothes they can throw into the washing machine. They will enjoy throwing and getting claps and high fives every time the clothes make it in.
At this age, fun is the most motivating factor. If they enjoy helping you then they will want to continue.
Closing the Lid and Pushing the Button
Is there a preschooler on the planet that doesn’t like pushing buttons? Giving your child the job of closing the lid and pushing the button as you hold them up will make them so happy. Not only do they get to be close to mom or dad but they get to be a big kid at the same time.
Switching the Laundry
This will be something that is fun because they get to shove wet clothes into the dryer. I like having my preschooler next to me as I ask “are you ready for more clothes?” The answer is always an eager “YES!”
This does make laundry take a little bit longer but it will be worth it.
This is the age that the kids can become a little bit more independent. They can start becoming more responsible for caring for their own laundry. It is time to start more specialized skills when they reach six years old.
Measuring Laundry Detergent
During this time the kids are old enough to learn how to measure the laundry detergent and put it in the washing machine. They can understand what happens if you use too much detergent or too little detergent.
This is also a good time to talk about fabric softeners and other additives that you may use.
What the Buttons are For
Some washers and dryers have a lot of buttons. Effectively doing the laundry requires your child to know what the buttons are for. What wash cycle needs to be used for what clothes and how to turn on the dryer.
For the younger kids, it will really look like simply setting the cycle and pushing the on button. But as they get closer to 9 they should know how to change the cycle and what setting on the dryer works best.
My least favorite job is folding laundry. So I love teaching my kids to do this job. However, there are some key components when it comes to teaching this skill.
If you are a person that is really into folding laundry and want it perfect, you may need to let go of that for a while. During the process of patiently teaching and reteaching your child to fold a shirt or towel correctly, they will get it wrong.
Keep in mind that they are young and trying. Praise their effort and gently show them again. This will go a long way in building their confidence.
Older Elementary/Middle School (10-12)
At this point in the laundry teaching journey, your kids should be pretty independent. They should be able to bring their laundry, put it in the machine, add the soap, and use the proper settings. They should also be able to use the dryer and fold their clothes.
Depending on whether or not they have already been putting their clothes away you may need to teach them. Putting clothes away is more than just shoving them haphazardly in the drawer. This is a good time to round out the teaching process by teaching to properly hang up and put away their clothes.