Oh, this has been a long time coming. A year and a half of work to be exact–but the girls are starting to put things away. Books are ending back in the bookcase, dishes going and coming back from lunches and snacks at the table. Don’t be fooled, this was not an overnight thing. Far from it.
This has started since birth, through example. I would repeatedly put items away in their presence. As they started to remove items themselves, I still modeled putting materials back when they were finished.
To help them with putting items away, I also try really hard to make sure that an area is clean for them upon first entering, again, beginning as infants. This can be difficult with twins, or any other children in the home really. This way they have a ‘fresh start’ and get to see where everything belongs.
Once they started walking, I’d point out that something was out of place. Books were the first materials they started to put away since that what they spend the most time with. Books on the floor and we are going to start lunch? “E and V, I notice some books that need to be put away. Let’s put them back on the shelf so we can start lunch,”–notice the wording? I word it in such a way that first this and then that. It’s not negotiable, but part of the process–just as one needs to place peanut butter on a knife before spreading it, process.
I then take a book and, usually, they will each grab one. I walk to the bookcase and place it back, making sure that there is space for their books. It time they will be able to make their own space.
With materials they are working with off the shelf, I wait until after they are finished working (as to not interrupt), but before they have moved onto the next material. “I see that you’re done with your puzzle.” Wait a moment. If they didn’t start to pick it up I ask, “Can you put it back on the shelf or would you like some assistance?” If nothing, “Lets put it back together,” as I start to put the tray in order. Sometimes they assist and sometimes they move on, which is fine as this is a process.
Hubby and I try to do the same with our items because we can’t expect them to put their things away if we aren’t doing the same.