I hesitated before I actually put this photo with the post, because although it gives a great image of what we do to help the children learn to pack for themselves, it also outs me as having no artistic ability at all.
I am lucky enough to have a sister (known to her other sisters as the general) who offered to take all 4 of our gorgeous children and have them stay overnight at her house on Saturday. The kids were very excited about this and were eager to get packing when Saturday morning arrived. Before the children get started, I like to get them to sit down with me and do a bit of planning first. I get them to tell me what they should take and I write these down on a list. As we have 2 who can read and 2 who can’t, I add some of my own artwork as an attempt to symbolise these items. (At least the children can interpret them!)
The older 3 children then grab a backpack and start to choose what they want to take. It takes me a great level of self control, from not interrupting their packing by saying â€œdonâ€™t take those old shorts; take the new ones that I like much betterâ€. But I have set them this task and I need to empower them to complete it on their own.
I used to then ruffle through the back packs and make sure they have packed everything that is on the list. I have stopped doing this though as I found it defeated the purpose of having them being responsible for packing their own bags. Why do they need to check themselves if they have everything, if mum just comes and does that at the end anyway?
This does carry with it and element of risk, and this time as I wandered past the bathroom this morning, I saw that the oldest two still had their toothbrushes sitting in the holder. But I am pretty sure that these are all that they have forgotten. By giving them the responsibility for packing their own bags, if something is forgotten they learn by consequence and will be reminded to be a bit more careful next time. They cannot simply say â€œwhy didnâ€™t you pack toothbrush?â€ to mum or dad.
Of course I do not expect our youngest to pack his bag yet, but I do get him to help me do his. This often means that when, he is not looking I have to take out two thirds of what he has brought to me and it is way too much stuff for an overnight stay!