Meaningful Contribution

Young children are interested in participating in the life of the family. All too often we forget that they are striving to be active contributors in life: she can take a small cup or bowl from a prepared cupboard in order to serve a snack, he can pour a glass of water from the perfectly sized pitcher at the table, she can help to fold clothes, hang them on a line to dry, help to wash dishes and put them away, he can carry a bag of groceries from the car and unpack it, she can move the stool to the sink for herself. There is a wonderfully simple book by Aliki, All By Myself, it illustrates this desire of the young child to participate, to move, to do, and to become. It is imperative that we allow for this expression, that we facilitate involvement for the child to feel peaceful within himself because it is these purposeful steps that build his self-esteem and self-respect. We are near enough to help as a guide and support, but we are careful to avoid substituting ourselves, our efforts and actions, for the child’s. Is your child at liberty to move, explore, and participate? When these tendencies for development are impeded, we observe discord, frustration, malaise. There are profound constructive powers within the child that need to be flexed and employed so that he may grow to be himself and she can grow to be fully herself.

In order to observe many possible ways for your child to engage in the life of home and family, take a moment to center yourself. Be fully present for three complete breaths before looking afresh at patterns and systems that are in place. Consider when making a meal how you might invite your child to assist you: peeling carrots or sweet potatoes, chopping zucchini or squash, stirring the batter or kneading bread dough. Included here are several photos of a young child in the kitchen, preparing food, joyfully!

These photos give us information about the child’s environment. Notice in each one that she is at a height appropriate for her arms and hands to work, move while she is steady. Notice the hooks mounted on the wall over her left shoulder where a broom, feather duster, dustpan with broom are all hanging. In two photos she is wearing an apron, this step helps prepare a child to enter the activity. She washes her hands and puts on her apron before working in the kitchen. In the fourth photo she is sitting at a low table for dining. She has a small cloth napkin, miniature blunt knife, and lovely ceramic plate. These are items she found in her cupboard. In the next post I will share details about dining for the young child. Thank you for joining me for the Family Life Enrichment blog of Heartmoor Farm Education Centre