[12 months] Starting as early as you can, start making a game of packing away, when you have the time! It is MUCH easier to make packing away a habit rather than a chore that is suddenly expected of children when they are older.
This works for packing away toys where there are many ‘things’, for example, bath toys, duplo, little people, soft animals/teddies, waterplay toys.
The ‘game’ is YOU giving language clues for the child to find the things and bring them to you to put in the box/tub or wherever they belong. You just need to adjust the clues according to age!
- 12 months – ‘get cup’ (using signs/gestures is good to give them more of a chance of working out what you are talking about), ‘get duck’
- 18 months – start giving clues, not just the word, such as ‘get big ball’, ‘get elephant with hat’ (signs can still be good)
- 2 years onwards – start using more describing words (adjectives) such as ‘the spiky dinosaur’, ‘the spotty one’, ‘the long rake’ or other attributes of the item ‘the one we eat at breakfast’, ‘the one we peel’, ‘the red one’ (and you still might be using your hands!)
Once you start to know the words your child knows, start giving multiple directions at a time such as, ‘get the duck and pig’, ‘find the big teddy and the teddy with no clothes’, ‘get the banana, the watermelon and something we eat for dinner’.
Don’t forget to finish the game by saying ‘hooray’, high fives, ‘you packed away’, ‘you HELPED’!!!!!!
And IF you still have trouble encouraging packing away, why not start by ‘backward chaining’. That is, you pack away some (or most, depending how young your child is) and get them to help with the last few. That way they can still receive the ‘hoorays’ which sets it on a positive note to try again for next time 🙂