Children learn language all day long. Whether you’re singing songs, reading a book or just doing chores around the house. Yep, chores. We all have them, so we just as well use these regular household chores to introduce and reinforce language skills to our children.
When we sort our laundry, we’re grouping them into categories. Sometimes the categories might be by colors – WHITES, DARKS, LIGHT, BRIGHT. Sometimes they might be other things they have in common like– TOWELS, JEANS, LINENS, or HAND WASH.
Children can help sort dry clothes into different categories, which might help with the folding process. The categories could be by types of clothing – socks, shirts, pants – or by people – mom, dad, child, or sibling.
Just as sorting clothes into categories helps streamline laundry day process, sorting words and objects into categories helps children better organize information in their brains.
Your children will learn about opposites when helping with the laundry by:
Taking the laundry OUT of the washer and putting it IN the dryer.
Seeing a FULL hamper turn into an EMPTY one.
OPENING the washing machine door then CLOSING it.
Noticing the settings for HOT and COLD water.
Opposites are often extremes like HOT/COLD but there are also degrees such as WARM. Learning opposites and the words that fall between the opposites (OPEN/HALF-OPEN/HALF-CLOSED/CLOSED) increases a child’s vocabulary.
Our closet is filled with clothes from around the globe. One fun activity is to look at clothing labels and see where the clothes are made. Take this information and discuss WHERE these places are, HOW to pronounce the countries, and HOW far the clothes traveled.
With Mapcustomizer, you can enter the names of countries from clothing labels to see where the clothes were made.
With Google Maps, you can see how many miles the clothes traveled to your home.
Incorporating geography into laundry can open so many discussions – what language people speak, what people eat in those countries, what their flag looks like, etc.
Pictograms & Reading
Care labels include words and pictures that tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing to our clothes. Sometimes the care tags are even written in multiple languages. Children can look for familiar words or patterns when reading any non-English labels or look for letters or symbols in other languages that we don’t have in English.
Laundry even has it’s own picture code to help people care for their clothes. Here’s a “magic decoder” to figure out what the pictures mean.
Reading and decoding skills are needed everywhere – even when doing laundry.
Whatever the order is for doing laundry at your home, concepts like FIRST, NEXT, THEN, LAST, BEFORE and AFTER are always involved. Children can be taught to check their pockets BEFORE placing it in the laundry basket or to close the door THEN turn on the washer.
If you’re teaching your child how to do laundry, instead of giving all of the steps at once, consider providing the steps in smaller units of 1-2 steps to increase success.
Providing a child with a functional task can help them learn how to sequence, because some of the tasks can’t be done if they aren’t done in order. Since a dryer doesn’t usually work if the door is open, they would need to FIRST close the door, THEN turn on the dryer.
Superlatives & Pronouns
When an adult and a child are in the same house, there’s bound to be clothes that are BIGGER and SMALLER. Children can compare socks to see which one is LONGER and which one is SHORTER. If there are multiple people in the family, then there will be clothes that are BIG, BIGGER, and BIGGEST. Colors of clothes can be described as DARK, DARKER, DARKEST.
Some clothes are YOURS, some clothes are MINE, some clothes are HIS, and some clothes are HERS. Pronouns give us more ways to talk about someone without having to constantly say that person’s name.
The next time you’re doing laundry, engage your child with some of the strategies to introduce or reinforce language. We can expose to pronouns, pictograms, sequencing, opposites, and so much more with ho-hum everyday laundry. Who knew that laundry can be so language-rich?