NATHHAN National Challenged Homeschoolers Associated Network

Christian Families Homeschooling Special Needs Children

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Ye 'Ole Washing-up Routine

By Tom and Sherry Bushnell Winter 1995/96

"Time to eat!!" This is the welcome cry from the kitchen our little ones wait all afternoon for.

"Get washed up!," in our home, is followed by a line-up at several sinks to get rid of the day's, dirt, pitch, grease, rust, and other discoloration of the hands. Some of our children consistently do a thorough job. Others.....well, let's just say it's hard to believe they found the sink at all!

Several of our children have a fascination with water . It is not uncommon to get all seated round the table, take a head count and find one or more still stuck at the sink. Washing-up can be fun!

It wasn't always this easy. We had to teach all of our children what we expected of them at hand washing time.

Here are some suggestions we offer:


A love of water in general makes the task of washing up much easier. At the appropriate times let them play in pans, the sink, bathtub, pool, soap and soapsuds, get the general idea.


Stand behind your child with your hands over his. Being sure your child can reach the facets easily (use a stool or chair if necessary), place your child's hands on the facets. Turn the water on and off several times so can learn how they work. Turn on. Turn off. Emphasize off......Turning the knob on even more makes a mess!!


Put colored tape on the facets, blue for cold, red for hot. If child is not visual, use rough for hot and smooth for cold. Teach them to turn on the cold water first.


Follow the same routine every time you wash up.


Be sure your child is actually capable of what you are asking them. Progress may be slow and somewhat lopsided. For instance, they may get stuck at the getting the hands wet part. Fascination at turning the knobs on and off at first is not unusual. For best efficiency, be sure your child has mastered a given step before moving on to the next.


Be sure to let your child do it "all by myself!" Do not help him with any step that he can do. Don't be too picky at first. Give lots of praise and a nice thick towel does wonders at dry off time.

Washing up Progressions of Skills

1. Doesn't like having their hands washed under running water. Keeps them in a fist, pulls away, making the task difficult.

2. Let's someone wash his hands under the facet. Opens their hands to be washed. Doesn't pull away.

3. Holds hands under the sink under running water, without help.

4. Rubs hands under running water to get dirt (real or imagined) off.

5. Holds the soap. This is a trick even I have trouble with. Liquid soap is a great invention! Keep the soap in the same place. Keep the towel in the same place.

6. Child finds soap, rubs it on his hands.

7. Turns cold water on, finds soap and uses it, holds hands in a helpful position for drying.

8. Washes with only a little help. Turns on cold water (full blast). Finds soap. Cleans palms of hands, holds palms under water to rinse.....runs to the table!

9. Turns on cold water, uses half the bottle of soap efficiently, rinses hands under water, finds towel, dries hands completely. Drops towel....runs to table.

10. Turns on warm water, uses a moderate amount of soap, lathering palms, backsides of hands and wrists. Rinses well. Finds towel, dries thoroughly, puts towel back on rack.

11. Notices dirt on hands.

12. Washes hands independently without even being told too!