You shouldn’t have to do everything in the kitchen. Grab your little one and assign him the task of setting the table while you cook. To help him out, the two of you can create some special placemats to show him where to put the items.
Why Make Placemats?
Showing your child how to set the table not only gives him some responsibility for doing a household chore, it also teaches proper table-setting etiquette. Matching an object with its appropriate space helps with hand-eye coordination. Counting out the appropriate number of items helps sharpen those math skills, too.
Plan to make at least enough placemats to have one for each family member. For the main part of the placemat, you’ll need a 12-by-18-inch or larger piece of construction paper or card stock for each person, as well as several sheets of colorful card stock to depict the dishes on the placemat. Scrapbooking paper works for this too. If you want to be coordinated, choose paper patterns that match your kitchen decor; you can also make holiday-themed ones for special occasions. If each person in the family wants to pick a personal paper pattern, go for it. To finish your project off and protect the paper from getting ruined during the first use, you'll need some clear contact paper. If you have access to a laminating machine, that works even better.
How to Make a Placemat
Place the dishes, utensils and napkins in the correct places on top of the large piece of paper or card stock. Have your child trace the items with a pencil. You can go over the traced lines with a marker to make the line easier to see. Have your child cut shapes out of the extra pieces of colorful card stock and secure them on the paper with a glue stick. Laminate or cover the placemat with contact paper and cut the excess off from the edges. Repeat for the rest of the placemats. You should now have placemats that clearly indicate to your child what to put where.
Have your little one practice setting the table. Have him put the placemats on the table where people normally sit. Put the appropriate number of plates, cups, utensils and napkins on the table in a stack or allow him to get the items himself. (Use sturdy dishes for this, just in case gravity wins this table-setting battle.) Show your child how to fold the napkins, if needed. Allow him to put the things in their correct places, only intervening if needed. Thank him for a job well done and tell him you appreciate him helping. Even if he doesn’t get everything exactly on target, practice makes perfect.