We’ve all heard about the kid who goes to college who’s never washed a load of laundry before. The one who doesn’t even know how to turn the washing machine on. The one who doesn’t realize one red sock can turn an entire load of white towels pink.
Perhaps that person was your roommate.
Perhaps it was you!
Even if it was you, the experience probably didn’t scar you for life, but let’s make sure our own kids don’t have to go through that embarrassment. Let’s teach them early so they can be self sufficient adults (and take a load off of us while they’re still at home!).
When and What to Teach Kids About Laundry:
Under 2 Years Old
Let your child play in the laundry while you fold it. Yes, they’ll probably mess something up and slow you down, but they’re hanging out with you which is what they want the most. Just have fun with it!
Begin to teach toddlers how to sort by color and type when you’re preparing clothes for the washing machine and when it’s time to fold. You can use this time to talk about colors and textures. You can even teach them about numbers by counting each sock, each piece of clothing that contains blue, or even the number of towels. Be creative!
Small toddlers can even help fold certain things like washcloths and dishtowels. They may not be folded perfectly, but your kids will have fun trying! While our kids are young and still like to help, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach them responsibility.
Preschoolers are old enough ti deliver folded clothes to the appropriate room. They can put socks in the drawer, learn to hang their shirts on hangers, and take the laundry basket back to the appropriate place.
Little tykes are also great helpers at moving wet clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. Of course, you may have to hand the clothes to your kids, but at this age they love to help!
Even though you may not be prepared to give them full access to the washing machine and dryer yet, elementary aged children are usually ready to learn the how-to’s of washing clothes. Teach them how the washer works; how to turn it on, what the settings mean, and where the detergent goes. Show them the settings on the dryer and explain how certain fabrics require different temperatures to dry. As you do laundry together, they will learn to make decisions and do the work while you supervise.
This is also a great age to teach them about stains they get by playing outside and how to stain-fighters work. If they understand the process of removing the stain, your kids may think twice about running through that mud puddle! Well…maybe.
Middle School and High School Age
By the time Junior High rolls around, most kids are ready to take on the responsibility of washing their own clothes. If they know basics like how the washer and dryer works and how to separate clothing, they should be good to go. Their biggest hurdle may actually be remembering they have clothes to wash. Of course, a few days of wearing dirty socks just may do the trick!
Question: What other laundry tasks should be taught to our children and at what age?
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