Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Toddler & Preschooler Responsibility

"Someone is slacking!
Who's responsibility is this?" 

Yes, I'm talking to 2-4 year olds. And YES, someone will step up and take responsibility and take care of the issue. They will live up to the expectation.

I was talking with two other childcare providers over Thanksgiving and they were both complaining about the children in their care never picking up and making horrible messes. 

They didn't like hearing that I don't really have an issue with that.

  • Everyone is expected to pick up after themselves as soon as they are able to stand up, it is taught from the moment they can SIT up
  • Everything has a place, but that "place" is fairly large/general so close counts
  • For items that cross activity areas such as stuffies & figures, there are homes in each area 
  • We pick up throughout the day, before any major activity transition, so it seldom gets overwhelming
  • Certain areas, such as blocks, are allowed to remain intact no matter how messy if the child[ren] will be continuing/expanding play
  • If you don't know, ask. If you need help, ask. Otherwise, 


  • Slackers will lose privilege and have to sit out the next activity, after all, if you are too tired to pick up, then you are also too tired to do an activity
  • Super workers get acknowledged and rewarded
  • Doing someone else's job, upon my request, gets super rewarded and mentioned to your parents
  • Effort is always more important than results
  • If I have to pick up anything that is not MY mess, then it will go into the basement until I feel like going down and getting it...someday
When we DO make horrible messes, which we do regularly:
  • We work in teams
  • We work in zones
  • When one zone is completed, that team goes to the next one to help out
  • Big kids LEAD little kids, but don't do the work for them
  • We sing, race, or do it as a game
While I'm not a huge Barney fan, we do use this song, only we say "Pick Up" rather than clean up.

Responsibility begins to be demanded by children around the age of two, "ME DO IT!!"

However, parents and care givers often give in to these demands with a sigh and eye roll, assist to the point of taking over, or simply negate the request due to time demands or the child's lack of ability. Message: 

"You are incompetent and not worth my time to teach."

Often parents "assist" a child far beyond the time when they gain competency. Again, various reasons from not wanting them to grow up, time constraints, the child's competency, a lack of patience with their efforts, or a need for the child to be compliant with parental requests, interfere with their child's independence. 

I can't begin to count the number of times I've heard a child WHINE to their parent, "Mommy PLEEEEASE put my shoes on. I can't do it."

That's when I sigh and do an eye roll. The same child has put their socks and shoes on multiple times throughout the day.

If they take any item of clothing off here over the age of 2, then they better be able to put it on, or it is staying off until it becomes NECESSARY for it to go back on. Otherwise, it becomes a game that I am not interested in playing. 

That's not to say that we don't work learning how to take our clothes on and off, just at appropriate times.

"I can't do it!"

"It's okay if you can't do it, but it's not okay to not TRY.
TRY and then if you really can't, I'll help you out.
Besides, I need to see what you are doing wrong
before I can teach you how to do it right."

 Parents are often NOT good about promoting responsibility throughout childhood.

"Miss Connie, do I need to wait for my friends to get here before folding towels?"
"Nope. Go for it, buddy."

  "[Miss N] is helping me! She's handing me the towels so I can fold them."
Here, the children help me fold towels, put away groceries, clean and do a variety of tasks, get out and put away their own bedding & cots, dress themselves, put their dirty dishes on the counter next to the sink, put their items away appropriately, push their sleeves up and get in line to wash their hands; all without any coercion, threats or yelling, simply through routine and expectation and the occasional clapping sequence to let them know that we are entering or in a transition and they need to perform accordingly.

Miss H 2 years
We have a jobs chart that gets rotated every Monday for the children age 3 and up. Since this is a home child care, we usually have 3-5 preschoolers at any given time.
  • Kitchen Helper: sets the tables, passes out drinks and plates
  • Teacher's Helper: fetches, grabs, holds, and does special projects
  • Cleaning Helper: dusts, vacuums, wipes down, supervises pick up times, assigns pick up tasks/teams/zones, and holds last responsibility for having everything put away
Mr. G 3 years
This is a Eureka lightweight upright.
1/2 the weight of the average vac.
In the fully down position, the telescoping handle
is perfect for the littles.
  • Outside Helper: Helping keep the outside areas picked up, playing games with the little ones

Printable for pencil glyph is available for FREE at my TPT store. It also makes cute task cards or word wall. They are sized to fit next to 8 1/2 inch name cards in a 14 1/2 inch wide pocket chart, available currently 12/2013 at Dollar Tree and Target for $1.
Pencil Glyph, Helper Cards

Each preschooler also has a toddler Biddy Buddy that they assist as needed. The little ones know that their preschooler is there to help them, but only if they ask and only so far. 

This all promotes:
  • Responsibility for self and others
  • Leadership & mentorship
  • Sense of pride/accomplishment/self-worth
  • Life skills
  • Independence
  • Self-reliance
  • Community
  • Ability to source & request assistance
No CRYING over spilled milk
but a lot of learning...
"I spilled my milk."
"So what do you need to do?"
"Clean it up."
"[Miss N] took the cap off her sippy and spilled it all over!!"
"Then the Kitchen Helper and/or her Buddy need to show her how to clean it up."
"YOU'RE kitchen helper [pointing to child] and I'm her buddy [pointing to self.]  I'll get TWO towels and we'll show her how."
Notice that I purposefully didn't mention names, assign tasks, give instructions, etc. I simply stated the responsibility. The goal of responsibility is for them to figure it out themselves who is responsible, what their job entails and to determine and source the needed resources.

If they don't do the job completely, then it's my responsibility to step in and TEACH them how to do the job correctly. But usually, if needed, the other children will help to ensure that all the steps are followed and the job is done well.

I make enough of my OWN messes I have to deal with.
FFGs, busy bags, snowball sight words, curriculum, books to sort, etc...
"When I'm all done I have to pick up every piece of the train set since I put it all the way in the kitchen and you don't like us to have toys in the kitchen. You might trip and get hurt," Mr. G came and informed me most solemnly today after constructing for awhile during nap time. 
Guess he wanted me to know he was on top of it.

If there is a basket full of clean towels sitting around when they arrive, they simply start folding when they feel like it. I don't have to say anything. All of them will eventually get folded and put away during the day. 

If I have cleaned toys and they are sitting around in a bin, again, they will eventually be put away where they belong without me having to say a word. 

The expectation exists, and children will live up to your reasonable expectations.
Tags: parenting, parents, toddlers, children, kids, responsibilities, chores, expectations, abilities, preschooler, preschoolers, childcare, child, care, daycare, age, stage, development

No comments:

Post a Comment