School-age

How to turn your child into a capable task-master

Making their beds? Packing their school bags? No problem! Our productivity consultant shares six tasks kids can truly master.

By Clare Kumar

How to turn your child into a capable task-master

Photo: iStockphoto

How to turn your child into a capable task-master

Turning kids into task-masters

Every busy parent I know could benefit from a little help getting things done. However, with most tasks it’s usually faster to do something yourself rather than let your kids attempt it. It’s often hard to endure the short-term pain of skill-building when you’re rushing through your to-do list. But, the long term gains will be worth it. The key to inspiring and motivating kids is choosing tasks they can do well, so they build confidence along the way.rnrnHere are six tasks kids can truly master.

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: iStockphoto

Mini sous-chefs

Given the chance, kids often enjoy helping to get dinner ready. But, depending upon your child’s age, this may be limited to pouring and stirring.rnrnTo get young ones (ages 5+) involved in the chopping process, pick up a plastic lettuce knife. Plastic blades are strong enough for your mini-chef to slice softer items such as cucumbers, pears, bananas, grapes, cheese or meat slices, and safe enough to let them try it on their own. Teach proper chopping technique early by having kids round their fingers out of the way of the blade when they hold an item to cut.rnrnRead more: Why I'd rather not eat dinner with my kids>

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: iStockphoto

Folding clothes

Folding clothes is a surprisingly easy and safe thing to teach kids to do on their own. I’ve taught three- and four-year-olds to fold pants with ease. All it takes is a little rhyme to make it fun for them to remember what to do: "Lie pants like so, / And make the waist ‘kiss’ the toes. / Fold once more, / And put the pants in the drawer."rnrnSome kids (and adults) have a tough time knowing where to make the folds when they're folding tops. Consider a folding tool to help make it easy for them to fold, put away and retrieve clothing. To really share the load, get them to help fold your clothes, too!rnrnWe had Sunday night laundry folding parties for a while as I taught my kids how to fold. A little music and good company makes folding fun.

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: H2Photo

Making the bed

For simple bed-making, choose bedding that is easy to manage. Skip layers of blankets and quilts — perhaps display a favourite quilt on the wall instead — and stick to a sheet-and-duvet combo. Duvets are light and easy to manage.rnrnKeep the sides of the bed a few inches away from the wall, if you can, to allow easy reach from both sides. Don’t stress too much about the finish, work on simply building the habit.rnrnRead more: How to choose the best bed for your budget>

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: iStockphoto

Build a breakfast (or lunch)

Arrange for lower kitchen cupboards and drawers so kids can access non-breakable plates, bowls and cups. Repurpose the lower vegetable drawer to create an accessible section in the fridge for kid-ready items, such as yogurt in small containers, cheese, fruit and veggie sticks and hummus for dipping.rnrnIf kids are really little, simply take out the fridge drawer, if you can, let them choose from the items, and put it back when they’re finished.rnrnRead more: Packing their own lunches>

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: Clare Kumar

Plan ahead

Nothing feels more stressful in the morning than a last-minute request just as the school bus is pulling up to the house. To try to minimize this (I’m realistic — it’s never completely avoided), we have a rule in our house that backpacks and activity bags must be packed the night before. To help with this, the kids have their schedule accessible (left). A checklist is also helpful for reminding kids what to pack: agenda book; homework/school forms; water bottle; indoor shoes/gym clothes; lunch; library book; extra-curricular items.rnrnYou can help by checking the weather forecast the night before to plan outerwear — rain boots, sunscreen and winter gloves can then be readied the night before.

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: Clare Kumar/Streamlife

Pack a suitcase

When it’s time to travel — whether it be for a vacation or a sleepover — have kids take over the responsibility of packing their own bags. Allocate a piece of luggage to each member of the family. Our kids have had their own suitcases and backpacks since they were toddlers.rnrnIn the suitcase, keep a pre-packed toiletry bag and drawer organizers to help divide the space. Fold clothes vertically in the suitcase so you and your child can see everything. Tape a checklist to the lid of the suitcase to keep packing staples top of mind. For the first few packs, parents can simply double check that everything is there. Suggest choosing a "travel-friendly" stuffed-animal instead of the long-time favourite to economize on space and avoid loss.rnrnRead more: Packing checklist (printable)>

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: Clare Kumar

More great parenting tips!

How to teach your kids time management>rnHere are eight essential time-management tips kids can use to better their chances of success in school and later on in life.

How to turn your child into a capable task-masterPhoto: Intel Canada

This article was originally published on Nov 07, 2013
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