Reminder about NEW Musiconnx Website

If you have found this page through a web search, or if you are still getting this message via email through Feedblitz, please switch your subscription to my new website:  Musiconnx.com    The Feedblitz email notifications will no longer be working.   Come check out my new wordpress website… it is so much more colorful,  fun and easy to navigate.

You can simply use this link to subscribe to my new articles as they are posted:  Subscribe to Musiconnx

I believe you will love the content of my recent articles.  I have enjoyed completing several series on Peaceful Parenting, Roadtrips, Scaffolding, etc.

I am regularly posting information about establishing good FOUNDATIONS OF LEARNING,  letting you know about NOTEABLE NEWS, sharing PARENT PERSPECTIVES, and sharing wonderful pictures in my PORTFOLIO.

Please subscribe and join the fun on this more creative and interactive website.  I look forward to seeing your comments.

Merry Melodies,
Debbie Mondale

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FIRST Observe – Start where the child IS

“I See YOU!”  “Look what you are doing…”  “Wow, that looks fun, I want to try it.”  These phrases are TREASURES in a parent’s tool box.  Every child LOVES to be noticed.  How many times do you hear “Watch ME!”  Every child LOVES to be recognized for what they CAN do, or what they HAVE DONE already.  Every child feels more competent when a significant adult in their life wants to copy them.   These all start with the most important part of connecting with and teaching your child, to watch closely, OBSERVE.

OBSERVE and RECOGNIZE before

TEACHING or TRANSITIONS or PROBLEM SOLVING

Oftentimes, we as parents are in the position of giving our child directions.  Sometimes our children are exploring or learning something new, “Stack the blocks like this.”   Other times, it is due to our schedule, or daily routine. “Sarah, it is time to brush teeth, and get ready for bed.” And other times, we find them needing to solve a problem, “Let me help you.”   Many times we find it easier and faster just to quickly give directions or solve the problem ourselves.  

Aaah, but connecting and teaching take time…  and it starts with the time to observe and recognize. 

Observing starts by simply stopping and WAITING to see what they are doing, or what they will do.   It is certainly human nature to start showing examples when a new object is given to explore, or giving directions first.  Try this.  Do it like this.  But then we don’t get to observe what the child already knows, or, for that matter, what they can teach themselves.   Over 100 years ago, Maria Montessori found out, by intent observation, that given the opportunity, children are very capable of teaching themselves a great many things.  As adults, it is our responsibility to provide them that opportunity and wait to see what they can teach themselves, and to provide just enough support to help that process along.

Recognizing means that somehow we share with the child that we see and care about what they are doing, without judging them.  Sometimes this is through using our words to DESCRIBE (which supports their language skills).  “Sally, I see you tapping your rhythm sticks together end to end.”  Sometimes it may just be letting them see you COPY them.  Someone(?) said, “The best compliment someone could give you is to copy you.”  Without any words at all, the child knows that they are SEEN and RECOGNIZED.  Sometimes it may be a little of both. 

Without judgement means that we refrain from making a vague statement like “Good Job.”  Not that it is a bad thing to say, but that it is not clear what was done well, AND that it infers that the importance is on the parent’s evaluation that it was “good”.  When a parent says, “You did it !  You placed the sticks in the shape of a V !”, the child is able to take ownership of the act, and be proud of himself for doing so.  Ultimately, the child’s inner motivation is what will get her down the path to success.

A whole different benefit to these parenting skills was an eye-opening kick in the pants to me.   I had been having problems with transitions, getting my child to do what I wanted or needed them to do NEXT.  And it specifically was significant when I approached him when he was involved in an activity independently.  My son would be playing his room with his Legos, and I would come in and ask him to wash his hands for dinner.  A fairly simple request really, but it was met with reluctance and procrastination.  After reading much about parenting through Becky Bailey, I learned that my son is heavily invested in what he is doing at that moment.  It is important that I recognize the hard work in which he is engaged.  His mind is busy designing, problem solving, and creating.  Washing hands for dinner seems so insignificant in comparison to the processes currently at work in his mind.  So, it is important to take the time to start the conversation where his mind is presently.  “Wow, look what you are doing with those legos !  You have made some sort of flying machine.  I can see the wings are jutting out here and here.  Tell me more.”   OH, what a difference a few minutes of observing and recognizing can make !!!  Sharing out loud what is “on the table at the moment” allows for a winding down of the brain process, and an openess to what may be next.

This works for young children as well, even those who are unable to talk.  When they are engaged with a toy or activity, the few minute a parent takes to patiently watch, and then describe gives them WORDS to pair with what they are doing, lets them know that there is respect for their ability to focus, and that what they can do for themselves is recognized.  THIS is the starting point for teaching, ie. expanding on their current interest,  or for transitioning to another activity. 

Without getting into a lot of details, the same skills are exceedingly important when a child is faced with a challenge or a problem to solve.  Wait; watch what they will do; ask them questions to help them assess the situation effectively.  If intense emotions are observed, the best support is to allow them (or yourself) the opportunity to find a quiet place to calm down before they tackle the task of solving the problem.  ANYONE who is too emotionally distraught cannot solve problems effectively.  A chemical in the brain screams to fight or avoid – not solve.   When cooler heads prevail, approach the problem like a puzzle, allow them to, or help them describe the pieces of the issue without emotion, wait and listen, and encourage a creative list of solutions, from those based in fantasy, to those based in reality.

A parent’s time to observe and recognize helps children feel confident and competent, and eager to try more things, and more able to solve their own problems.   And it helps US, as their primary teachers, know where to start with the teaching process, and how to support their own abilities to teach themselves.   It is the beginning of the incredibly effective method of teaching called scaffolding, which we will be talking about more over time.

These parenting skills do not necessarily come naturally.  I consider myself a good parent, yet I have to continually focus to ensure that I WAIT and OBSERVE before giving directions (so hard for me at times, esp. in our busy schedule !).  Before I approach my independently engaged child, I often have to give myself a Becky Baily Pep Talk to OBSERVE and CONNECT first !   When my child is struggling with a challenge, it is hard to be patient and let them come up with the solution themselves.  It is an ongoing challenge not to blurt out “Good Job”.

BUT, EVERY TIME I do it RIGHT…  Every time I take the time to Observe and Recognize…  Every time I DESCRIBE instead of Judge…   I SEE how my children respond so well to it, and I KNOW that it is worth the continual effort.  It does get easier.  Just like learning to play an instrument, practice makes perfect.

Do you have a story to share about how observing your child FIRST made a difference?

It’s Gonna Snow and I Gotta Crow

I GOTTA CROW !

Like Peter Pan,

I get so excited, that…

I GOTTA CROW !

COCK-A-DOODLE  MOOOO !  (that’s the Kindermusik way to CROW !) 

COCK-A-DOODLE  BRRRRRR !!!

Winter Wonderland CDTHIS Sat. we celebrate the season:chilly winds, snowfalls, and ice skating with the best music for singing, dancing, and playing in the snow.

WINTER WONDERLAND PLAYDATES
THIS Sat. Jan. 28th Enroll online here, email, or call/text me: 863-397-4976

9:30 – Families with babies up to 18 m.

10:30 – Families with all ages of children

Special Prices this Month:     $15 includes music, snow props, & tuition for 1st child:  $5 for siblings: Siblings < 1 year or > 7 yrs. are FREE:  $5 to bring a friend new to Kindermusik

I GOTTA CROW ! COCK-A-DOODLE ZOOM !

Demos Days were delightful (Thank You!),  new materials are on their way, and

Spring Semester of Kindermusik is ready to roll NEXT WEEK !     (Click on the Spring Icon to Enroll)

I’m excited to see everyone:

the babies will be fascinated by the farm animals; the toddlers are going to chug and vroom, and zoom as Away We Go; and the preschoolers have many “treasures in store”… in our imaginary TOY store, that is.

Come join us ! It is never too late – jump in any time ! If you haven’t yet, come try your first class FREE !

 Tiffany is CROWING about the number of families who will be enjoying her Kindermusik Sign and Sing class. A few spaces remain !

 I GOTTA CROW ! COCK-A-DOODLE TWEET !

My “dinosaur” computer was replaced with one that actually does what I ask without crashing… It’s so NICE to work more efficiently !    And I am very excited about my new website that will launch soon, with all the ways it will help us connect more easily !

Come and CROW with me !

Let’s celebrate all our joys and accomplishments together, with music, and movement, and lots of fun !

May we never grow to old to CROW !

Peter Pan
Peter Pan ” I Gotta Crow “

Holiday Thank You Cards as a Family Ritual

Gratitude is a gift you give back lovingly, not a chore to be forced.   SO, how can we, as parents, set this up for success for our children to take on this task with pride and wholeness of heart?   We make it into a full family ritual, complete with sounds, smells, tastes, and a Thank You Card (or Method) that incorporates their personality and their abilities.  Make sure to do it each year the week after Christmas, or the Hanukka events, or whatever holiday you celebrate, and it will be a cherished memory, and a lifelong tradition they can share with their children.  When done with love, it helps them embrace an important life skill: an attitude of gratitude.

Although it will take some prep time on your part (see below), when your family sits down to complete the task, make it special, and give it plenty of time.  

  • SOUND:  Put on some enjoyable Winter Music, or some of your favorite children’s Christmas songs, or music specific to your holiday.  Our family’s favorite is the Charlie Brown Christmas album (LOVE that JAZZ).  Or the Winter Wonderland album.   NOTE:  The title song is a FREE DOWNLOAD during December, a special gift from Kindermusik International.
  • TASTE:  Serve hot chocolate, or spiced cider, and a few nibbler treats to munch on (choose to serve before, during, or after, based on what works best for your family.)  Many times, we are still working on finishing off our Gingerbread houses.  
  • SMELL:  Add a delightful aroma with some of your favorite candles or essential oils of the season.  This year, a special family gave me a “Twisted Peppermint” candle – a perfect addition to our tradition.
  • TOUCH:  Set up the table with all the things you need to make this successful and free of stress.

First, consider the best method that YOUR child will enjoy to make MULTIPLE  Thank You cards.  Take into account their ability level, and their personality.   Each one of these activities allows the child to share a bit of themselves in a way that makes them feel special for “giving back”, without overwhelming them with the task.  Combine the ideas, and make them your own.  If you have any of your own, please add them in the comment section.

PICTURES:  For a baby or any child who is not yet able to write, take a photograph of the child with the objects given to them by each specific person/family.  They may be wearing the new outfit, or playing with the toy, or even sleeping with it under their arm.  This can be emailed with a quick note, or printed and sent by mail with a handwritten note below the picture, or on the back.  IF gifts are given personally, it is an awesome memory to take a picture of the giver, the child, and the gift while they are together.  For your child, when they are ready, it is a great idea to have a picture of each family and friend in a photo album that is easy for them to use.   Review these family photos, and talk about which person gave them which gift, and maybe help them remember some details of that family member.   These pictures can be looked at again and again, with stories weaved in to make the family tapestry strong.  BOTH my children repeatedly sought out and  lingered over family pictures in their baby books – mesmerized as young children are with faces.  As they got older, we had to call each one… even if just to listen to the other family member talk.

Thank You stampINK STAMPS:   There is an amazing array of stamps on the market now because of Scrapbooking.   For children able to use stamps (but not write well), get a STAMP with their NAME on it.  For the very young, you may use a self inking stamp (to avoid patches of ink everywhere), but the regular stamps offer more of a variety with children just a bit older.   Ink pads come in a variety of colors, so get a few of their favorites, and let them choose which color to use.  Or, of course, you can have them use their markers to color the stamp any way they want, and then stamp it on the paper.  You may even take them to the store, to choose a few stamps that reflect their interests, ie. trains, animals, or royal accessories.   Cut a sheet of card stock into four postcards and let them decorate both sides with their “personality stamps” and their NAME stamp on ONE side at the BOTTOM, and let dry.  Parents can write the address on one side, and on the side with the name, a quick note commenting on how their child reacted to the gift.   If they are starting to write, you may have them write just the NAME of the person it is for.  Help them “picture” the person in their head by showing pictures, or telling stories of fun times they had together.

COPY ART / SIMPLE THANK YOU:  Maybe your child can trace or write THANK YOU ! and their NAME, and add their own art work to a sheet of paper.  This page can be color copied, as many as you need, full size, or even half size on the top of a full sheet of paper, allowing the parents to add a few handwritten details at the bottom. 

FORM LETTERS:   For those children who are able to write a bit, but get bogged down in the repetitiveness of the Thank You note, appreciate having a Form letter with many of the words already written.   This can easily be done on the computer by the parent, or even better, the parent and child working together to design it.  A normal Word document with expanded margins, with two columns, on a horizontal page can fit FOUR “postcards”.  See, or even USE my sample.

Dear _________________,                                                                                            December 2011

Single Snowflake

 

Like a single snowflake, you are unique,

and you have brightened my world with

the gift of your friendship.

I especially want to thank you for

_____________________________

_____________________________

_____________________________

The world is a more beautiful place because of you !

May your new year be filled with beautiful unique adventures!

                                                                                  __________________,      ___________

Cora (almost 8 years old) wanted a snowflake this year, so we found a good image online and we worked on the words together.  She can, and would be willing to write this ONCE, but would fight tooth and nail if she had to write it multiple times.  Once printed and cut into postcards, she can personalize each one by just writing the NAME of the person, and the gift received, as well as a short comment about her reaction to it.  Then she can decide how to end it, and add her name.   Actually, she is choosing to cut each postcard a little smaller and send each one in an envelope this year, along with a paper snowflake that she has cut out herself (a good use for all the snowflakes that seem to be multiplying at my house.)

Even my 16 year old son, James, likes using the Form Letter format.  He just types in the information instead of leaving blanks.  This is only for the family and friends who don’t use text messaging… the current means of ANY communication for a teenager.  Handwriting, as I am told, is no longer used to communicate.  Except, as I tell him, for those few family members who consider his handwriting a treasure of their own.

SHORT & SWEET VIDEO:  For all the drama kings and queens out there, especially those with parents who have access and knowledge of video taking and sharing, there is ALWAYS the personal Thank You video.  Cora got one of her wishes fulfilled when Grammy sent her matching outfits for her and her American Girl doll.  Within the hour, She had to put the outfits on both her and her doll, then pose for pictures, and showcase her gift and her appreciation via a short video taken on my smartphone and texted to Grammy.   Then we called her to make sure she got it, and they had a grand discussion.  YES, she will still be sending a Thank You card in the mail because these things mean a lot to Grammy.  But the immediate nature of communication these days offers a LOT of options ! 

Whereas, my teenage son won’t even let me take a picture of him.  What is up with that ??!!

PLEASE share your ideas for Holiday Thank You Methods with me as well !

Top 5 Gifts of Music

“I LOVE Music !” your child says, whether with words, or with their body when music is playing and when enjoying an instrument,  or with their facial expressions when you are singing with them.  If they could, they might tell you their top 5 gifts of music like this.

Baby FamilyI love to listen in the car, and sing along with the fun songs.  I love to make music with my instruments, and anything else I can bang on or shake ! Most of all, I love it when my family and I enjoy music activities together:

 
lap bounces with daddy like “Giddy Up A-Horsie”, dancing with scarves with mommy, and circle dances like “Ring Around the Rosie”… 
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
boy interacts with musicResearch shows that music activates my whole brain, enhancing ALL my learning right now,  and building a strong foundation for all my future learning.    My brain is always searching for patterns that help the world make sense, and music is full of patterns.  My brain learns best when comparing opposite concepts, and music is full of contrasts.  My brain learns best when NEW things catch my interest, and is followed by many repetitions to help keep strong what I have learned.   
 
More, please.  Let’s do it again !
 
girls eyesIf I could, I would tell you that the gift that would mean most to me,
the one that will fill more of each of my days with fun and learning,
the one that will last the longest, and make marvalous memories,
….
is the Gift of Music !

 
…………

 

My TOP 5 Gifts of Music
 
Classes - girl#1 – Kindermusik makes it fun and easy for me and my family to learn new songs and music activities, and gives us all the materials to keep the fun and learning going at home, and in the car !   And it makes me feel so good because Mrs. Debbie thinks I’m so unique and wonderful, and helps me learn in my own way.  
 
There are so many programs, for infants up to 7 years old, available in the Spring Semester starting in Feb.  But we don’t have to wait, let’s visit a class in January.  Check out the details on Kindermusik Gift Certificates, and about the Kindermusik Payment Plans
 
 
#2 – It is so much fun to unwrap and explore new  musical Instruments !
Mrs. Debbie recommends these shopping places:
  • The ONLINE Kindermusik Store has LOTS of great music, instruments, scarves, and even sets (best prices!).  Please “tell” them that Mrs. Debbie sent you by entering her educator code, #15788, at checkout.
  • At the studio, Mrs. Debbie has a limited supply of integrated music sets (that means CDs, books, instruments, props and more that ALL connect on a specific theme that kids LOVE.)  Click the yellow link, or contact Debbie for more details.
  • Boomwacker girlMusic for Little People has the best, most expansive collection of musical stuff for our young children.  Mrs. Debbie could get in a LOT of trouble here! 
  • Locally, there are several great music stores.  Did you know Brooke Potteryalso has a nice small selection?
  • Mrs. Debbie’s Advice: choose instruments your child can be successful with.   Some instruments, like a violin or guitar, are best considered with recommendations for the right size and quality, as well as lessons from a music educator.
#3 – I would LOVE to learn songs about things I am interested in !!!
SweetPea3On play.kindermusik.com, there are hundreds of songs , stories, and music to choose from.  AND, there is a way to SEARCH for songs about the things I like most, like TRAINS, CARS, ANIMALS, Princesses, or growing a garden.      It is easy to download these songs, and the first 10 credits are free when you log in.   Families enrolled in a Kindermusik class not only get the CDs, but they can dowload all the music from the class for FREE, along with MORE fun activities that are part of the semester. 
 
 Need something that is easy, durable, and safe for me to use to listen? Check out this cool SweetPea3 MP3 player
 
#4 –  I think I’m READY for music lessons! 
Am I ready to sit down one-on-one with a teacher for a specific instrument? 
Or will I learn best how to read and write music, and play instruments, through singing, moving, and playing games, which will get me READY for more formal lessons?   
Better talk to Mrs. Debbie and Mrs. Tiffany, to see what is best for me at this time. 
  • Kindermusik for the Young Child (ages 5 – 7) with Mrs. Debbie
  •  InTune Studios offers: Private lessons on the piano, violin, flute, guitar, or voice
    •  Art’Sing – unique program with group voice, acting, dance, and art
      • there is an Afterschool version that can include Martial Arts ! 
    • ART classes are available for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary ages 
 #5 – The Greatest Gift is Musical TIME with YOU and ME

I really like to hear you sing to me, teach me the songs you grew up with, tell me rhymes while I bounce on your knees, pull out the pots and pans and tell me what beautiful music I am making, help me make homemade music instruments, dance with me with music that’s got a groove, and rock me to sleep with the most soothing lullabies.   It’s a gift you can give everyday, and it doesn’t cost a thing, except your time. 

More music, please.  Let’s do it Again !

What GIFT of music are you giving YOUR child or family this year?  Please share !

Children Cherish TIME with Family

Oh, YES !  Children do strongly anticipate the gifts they receive during the holidays !  It may be one of the most talked about topics during this month, and maybe for a few weeks into the next year.  But what do children cherish and remember MOST as life goes on?   Special times with mom, dad, or even the whole family!

This may be as simple as listening to, and singing along with a favorite CD of Christmas songs as you travel around in your car, or at home.  Every year, in our family, the familiar music is a reassuring background as we gently unwrap each of our special items for the Christmas tree, flooding us with memories of each person that provided us our unique ornaments.  My children and I listen to my favorite, the Charlie Brown Christmas Album, as we make a special ornament each year with their pictures.  Many of my ornaments bring special memories of my past customers.  (Thanks again for the ornaments – You know who you are !)   

Contact me for an E-newsletter that describes how you can get a FREE Kindermusik Holiday CD to enjoy with your family.

YOUR family’s cherished memories may be from attending the annual events in our community, such as the Christmas Parade (one of our favorites), or seeing Santa (in so many ways), or even experiencing SNOW in Florida at the annual Snowfest.  Check out my blog’s list of Holiday Happenings in Lakeland this week.  WOW!  

OR perhaps your family chooses gifts that bring about special family times throughout the coming year.  Two years ago, our family decided to focus on gifts that bring our family together.  Last year, everyone in our family received hiking supplies, and maps to the Geo-cache locations around Polk County , along with a Scrapbook to fill with memories of our adventures together.   Our favorite hiking songs, “The Ants Go Marching … “,  “Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In”, and “Walkin’ – Yes, indeed, I’m Talkin…”

Many of my Kindermusik families, past and present, have shared with me that their weekly Kindermusik classes, and the continuation of these songs and activities throughout the week with the home materials, provide their family with cherished moments and cherished memories.   

Two weeks ago, I was talking to a wonderful customer from years ago, Beth Kingham.  She shared with me that the times she and her children spent in Kindermusik were so joyful, so beneficial for her family, and that the family routines, and FRIENDS that were made at that time, are still so much a part of their lives today.   I left with tears in my eyes from her appreciation.  I am so grateful to be able to share the power of music with children and families.   And I am so grateful for all my customers who have made these times special for me as well.  I LOVE watching families grow through music.

Consider giving the gift of Kindermusik this year to set up months of ongoing special times for you and your children.  It may not be as much of a WOW factor under the tree, but it will bring many cherished moments throughout the year.  It will bring your family together, enhance your child’s development, and you just might make some long term friendships.   The power of music has the potential to make a true difference in the LIFE of a child.   A good beginning never ends.

Check out my schedule for Spring Semester on my Website, http://musiconnx.yourvirtuoso.com , and contact me to schedule a time to visit a class for FREE.   You will soon see that it is the BEST choice for a long lasting gift.

From my heart, I wish you a healthy happy holiday season with your family and your traditions:  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, a special Kwanzaa, Happy New Year…  May your season be filled with many memorable moments with your family.  And may you be surrounded by many Merry Melodies during the coming year !

Sincerely,  Debbie Mondale

Watch Out – Spontaneous Housecleaning May Occur

Whether it’s “Dust, Dust, Dust”, or “We are clothes in the Washing Machine”, our families are learning some great songs and activities that help make the cleaning up routines at home something to look forward to. 

In the Family Time program, Our Kind of Day, and the Our Time program, Milk & Cookies, children become actively engaged in real life issues, but in a more playful way.  Amazingly, when they think cleaning is fun, and got some good tunes to go with it, they are more likely to start some spontaneous housecleaning at home.  (Mine has, and many other mothers are reporting the same phenomenon.) 

The “Put Your Things Away” song that we use in ALL of our Kindermusik classes to encourage children to put their things away has generated SOO many comments from parents – like “As soon as my son hears this song, he starts putting his things away.”  “That song works miracles at my house.”  “My baby just LOVES that song, and it helps soothe her to sleep.” – That comment was made just this week in my Village class.

The “In My House” song has also generated it’s share of comments from parents.  This semester, homes throughout the United States, as well as 60 other countries, have little children with dust cloths in their hands trying to dust anything they can reach.  The repetative rhthmic ostinato of “Dust, dust, dust…   ”  makes a soothing backdrop for the melody to be sung above it, and it is so easy for the children to sing along and feel confident in their abilities.  The repetitive phrase also tends to help keep them focused on the task – well, mostly, they are children after all.

I simply love to put on CDs of upbeat music while going about the cleaning process.  We dance and sing, and may not be as quick about it, but it is done with a more joyful spirit.  Of course, there are several Kindermusik CDs which have great “cleaning” sections (two are listed above).   My favorite music, other than Kindermusik, is actually Benny Goodman, or some other big band jazz music to get me bouncing along to the task.  And I come up with more fun ways to engage my children in the tasks at hand. 

  • “Can we get all the clean dishes put away by the time this song ends?”
  • Folding clean laundry together often ends up in a sock tossing contest of some sort.
  • And there MUST be dancing celebrations upon completions of each task.  Well, there IS a lot more floor room for that now.

When done right, children take pride in their ability to contribute to the workings of the home, they feel “useful”, like “Thomas, the useful little engine” takes such pride in his work.  They can do more than is believed that they can do, given the right tools, and proper training in the tasks. 

Two year olds, and older 1 year olds) can help set the table, put their shoes, or toys, away in a specific box, put their dirty clothes directly into a hamper (my son called it the laundry “hamster” for the longest time – I didn’t correct him.)  Two year olds should be given ONE request at a time (don’t confuse them with multi-step directions).

Three year olds can sort the dinnerware into the drawer (matching the pieces correctly).  They can START to help match the socks, and fold the smaller towels – AND put them in the right drawer.  Three year olds CAN follow 3 – 4 step directions, like “Please, fold these towels and go put them in the kitchen drawer, then come touch my shoulder and I’ll give you a spinning hug!”   Setting up the last request as a return to the parent provides them a “finishing touch”, some recognition for their achievement, and gives parents a way to know that it was done.

Four year olds, and every age after that, can do more and more.  A good friend of mine purchased a little hand held vaccuum cleaner for each of his daughters at the age of 4, so they could easily help clean up messes that were made.  And they LOVED having their OWN vacuum, in the color of their choice, to use in the cleaning process.  They would race to see who could get their vacuum out first.  Children thrive on having their own real tools, in their size, for the job at hand.

I personally believe that it is important for them to realize that as they get older, they are allowed to learn additional responsibilities that will help them become successful adult when the time comes.

On my son’s 3rd Birthday, he had a wonderful birthday, and recieved many wonderful things.  He also recieved his first family chore of sorting the clean silverware while I emptied the rest of the dishwasher. 

On his 4th birthday, he learned that his new family responsibility was to sort and put away all the socks for the family.  And each birthday thereafter, he has received a new responsibility.  These are added to the previous responsibilities, instead of replacing them.  Although, some of the earlier responsibilities were given to his little sister when she became the right age.

I truly believe that being a useful part of the family in this way helps to build a family team that works together to support each other, and build bonds that sustain them during hard times, gives them the skills and feelings of personal responsibility that they need to lead sucessful lives.  It also helps them learn how to pass these skills along to their children as well.