Monday, December 06, 2010

Learning by cleaning

So, one of the really great things about RDI is that it has made us very conscious of the many ways that we can involve Sami and Oliver in the everyday, mundane details of life. Over the years, I confess, it hasn't always been fun to involve the kids in the shopping and the cooking and the cleaning and all the other errands that pile up each week. But spending that time together, doing things together, modeling my thinking for the kids and helping them find many ways to participate in our lives together has ultimately been very rewarding. The real goal of working through all this stuff with my kids isn't about teaching them how to do the laundry or make a bed -- it's about executive functioning: what do you do when you are faced with something that isn't working out as we expect? How do you know when you've done something good enough? How do you plan? How do you evaluate and choose between two things that are similar? In RDI, this is what we call apprenticeship in thinking and now that the kids are getting older I can clearly see how it is benefiting both of them; each in their own way.

But the side benefit is, of course, that they were also learning to be independent. With Sami, I suppose he would have managed to pick all this up along the way, regardless of my efforts. But Oliver? He is eight and working independently is just not one of his strong suits -- to put it mildly. This weekend, however, I began to take note of just how far he has come in this, too. Shooing the kids into their room to clean up, I suggested that Oliver pick up the items on the floor and Sami make the bed. At first, Oliver kind of wandered around in a not very directed kind of way and I figured he probably needed some more help so I said: "How about if you start with the cars, Oliver." And then? I stood back and watched him put every car in the right spot. Then he moved onto the books and finally the random toys laying in a heap. Meanwhile, Sami made the bed and they finished up by working together to stack the giant cardboard blocks and then vacuuming. All without a word from me.

Now I know that two kids, five and eight, cleaning their room together might sound like no great shakes to some. But if you only knew how many times I wondered if I would have to stand forever beside my boy, telling him the next thing to do, then you would understand why a little piece of the dread I carry around with me when I think about what the future might hold for my boy evaporated.

And it helped that my house was spotless by the end of the day.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:04 PM


    This is an area we struggle. At 4, Sarah can clean up her room with little input quite nicely.

    At 6, Charlotte can completely tune me out. It's maddening.

    It's great to read how the RDI has helped. I wish I had heard about RDI when Charlotte was younger.