A Great Free-Range Moment! (If You Ignore the Blood)

Hi Readers — Enjoy! (And just don’t ask if I get MY kids, aged 13 and 15, to do all this stuff. Wish I did!) — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I just had a great `Free-Range’ moment!  I regularly get my kids (5 and 7) to do chores around the house, unloading/loading the dishwasher, laundry sorting/loading/folding, vacuuming, etc.  Today my son cut his finger while unloading the dishwasher at my mom’s house.  It was on one of those huge chef knives and it went pretty deep so I make the trip to the ER since I didn’t know where Urgent Care was.

With it being a knife injury, the staff ask a couple of questions to make sure it wasn’t a domestic situation.  My son (7) told them how he was unloading the dishwasher and the nurse and doctor looked at one another in surprise.  I thought, “Uh oh… will I have to explain my parenting philosophy again???”  The doc then turned to my son, “Do you always unload the dishwasher?  Your mom has raised you right.” — Commenter Jenn

Forget the Flash-Cards: How To REALLY Help Your Pre-Schooler

It’s no secret that parents worried about how their kids are going to do in kindergarten are willing to work hard to help them make the grade. But a new study reported in Connect with Kids shows that teaching pre-schoolers the academic stuff — letters, numbers, etc. — may not be the best approach. What is?

Chores. Teaching them to listen to you, follow instructions and complete a task:

According to a study of 379 children published in the ‘Journal of Personality’, kids who had more responsibilities at age five, were more likely to have better grades and better behavior in school as 8-year-olds.

“When you get to school you have multiple step direction of things that children are expected to do,” explains Psychologist Laura Mee, Ph.D., “If they’ve been practicing that and listening to parents and following thing in a sequence at home for several years… I think it is more automatic for them.”She says simple chores also help a child develop a sense of confidence, independence. “And then feeling more self confidence that then helps you have more mastery in school,” says Dr. Mee.

She says if parents are paying attention, they’ll get cues from their child when they want to help out. “So if you can catch them when they want to do things independently, it’s a great time to encourage that and help them move forward,” says Dr. Mee.

I’m not saying I had my toddlers cleaning the house  — I’m pretty bad at that  myself (and always forget where the switch is on the vaccuum cleaner). But this study sure makes sense to me. Especially when we remember that until recently, children were always expected to help out their parents, not just the other way around.  — Lenore