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Teaching Children to Clean: A Guide to Teaching Life Skills to Children Review by Adrienne Falkena and Wendy Robertson

Schar Ward
Universal Publishers
301 Yamato Road, Suite 1240
Boca Raton, FL, 33431

Teaching Children to Clean: A Guide to Teaching Life Skills to Children Ages 3-16. Author Schar Ward begins with why we out to teach our children to clean, then the way we ought to teach. She has a large section on using natural cleaners and how to make them, as well as cleaning items you’ll need to purchase to clean the average home. She spends a good deal of time explaining how to clean each room and situation and provides ideas for incentives and checklists to print out. She also offers free chore charts online as a helpful addition to her book. The book also contains charts for keeping track of the child’s work and “grading” the job the child has completed. Teaching Children to Clean is paperback and contains 168 pages. It is listed at $17.95.

I read Teaching Children to Clean and appreciated her approach. Chores are a huge part of our day in our homeschool, teaching children how to work, to be careful with the messes that they make, and how to care for themselves. Ms. Ward did a thorough job listing the benefits of chores, and I’ve seen the fruit of her words in my own children. She states that a child should be able to clean every room in the house by age 16 and offers a step-by-step guide to getting children to that goal. The main theme of the book is teaching children to clean, but the final chapter has a checklist of life skills to teach. It’s very basic, but provides a good jumping off point in being certain your teen is preparing for adulthood.

I especially liked Ms. Ward’s suggestions for making things able to be cleaned—if things do not have a home how are children to know where to put them? Frustrating the child by overwhelming them with a huge task is not the goal. She has detailed lists on how to clean each room; even fish tanks and gerbil cages are mentioned. I do like that approach very much and find that lists posted in discreet places in my home help children to know what is expected of them before they can call a job finished.

I have mixed opinions on this book. I was hoping to find something new that I hadn’t discovered already, and I didn’t find that. If you are just starting out, teaching young ones, this is a great starting point. If you are attempting to teach children to clean but have not assigned cleaning jobs to your children up to this point, this is a great resource. It was less helpful to me, as we already have cleaning jobs and lists in place. With eight children, I’ve learned much along the way through trial and error. Much of what I read were things that we’ve already put in place and have a useful system already working. I needed this book when I was just beginning! If that’s where you are, then this is perfect.

-Product review by Adrienne Falkena, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017

Another Reviewer’s Perspective:

Teaching Children to Clean: A Guide to Teaching Life Skills to Children

Schar Ward

Universal Publishers

When your children know how to help out around the house, it’s beneficial for everyone. It saves you time by not having to do every single thing. It teaches them how to be responsible adults. But what about when your kids do things “wrong”? Or even just not well enough, or to your standards? When you have to redo it anyway, that’s not helpful for anyone. That’s where Teaching Children to Clean comes in.

Schar Ward is a former housekeeper who has written three books on the topic as well as appearing on TV and writing numerous newspaper and magazine articles. She is the mother to three grown children whom she taught to clean at a young age.

This book opens by explaining why it’s important to teach your children to help out around the house. It goes beyond just having help around the house; one study found that adults who helped clean the family home as children were less likely to get into drugs and more likely to go on to continuing education, thereby becoming more successful into their twenties and beyond. This information was interesting to me. I knew that it was important for kids to learn to clean properly, but I didn’t realize just how far-reaching the ramifications could be in their lives.

After the chapter on the research of “why,” there are several more that cover a variety of topics including setting proper motivators (hint: it’s not yelling at them), making the jobs fun but not a joke (give your kids proper tools for doing the job), natural cleaning products and how to combine them to make a variety of cleaning solutions, and a checklist for “grading” your children’s work.

Then the meat of the book really starts. Following the preparation chapters, there are 18 different chapters on cleaning various parts of the house. Some of these won’t apply to every household (for example, we don’t have pets, but there are several chapters on cleaning up after different kinds of animals, so I was able to skip those chapters), but most of them will. There are things included that I would never have thought to include in a book like this, such as cleaning up a broken lightbulb. Obviously, it’s better to be careful with the dead bulbs and not let them break in the first place, but accidents do happen, and it’s important to know what to do in case your child is dealing with a broken lightbulb.

The last three chapters wrap things up nicely. The cover-cleaning games to make the job fun, chore charts for children ages 3-16 (it’s not reproducible, but there is a link for downloading a printable version), and a whole chapter on teaching kids life skills beyond just cleaning that they need for becoming responsible adults (packing a suitcase, putting out a kitchen fire, sewing a button, and pumping gas, for example).

This book had a lot of good information in just a few pages (just over 150). My only complaint with it is that the punctuation left something to be desired. Admittedly, I’m a bit harsher on judging in this department than a lot of other people, so it’s not a deal breaker. I did find the misused commas on virtually every page quite distracting, though. If you can look past that, I think you’ll definitely get a lot of good insight by using this book as a framework for teaching your children how to clean the house. It’s an easy read—I was able to read it in under an hour, and I’m not exactly a fast reader—and definitely worth the time to do so.

-Product review by Wendy Robertson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2017