All work and even more play washing the car!

Guest Authored By Susan S, PTA

Looking for a great and easy way to engage your child in a physical activity?  Here’s an idea that the whole family can get in on during these summer days: washing the car!  Kids love to be outdoors, and if water is involved – added bonus!  Washing the car challenges whole body movement skills including motor planning, balance, and using the two side of the body together (bilateral coordination).  It requires bending, reaching, and stretching.  Depending on your child’s age and level of ability, you can make this activity as simple or as challenging as you feel appropriate.   

Suggested supplies: 

  • Hose with nozzleSqueezing the nozzle to get the water out can help strengthen all of those tiny muscles in the hands and fingers.  
  • Bucket: Fill some water into the bucket and have your child carry it to the car for some “heavy work”, which provides proprioceptive input and can assist with self-regulation.  *Safety tip: Put enough water so that it’s challenging, but make sure they aren’t straining their back and that they can safely carry the bucket without tripping.   
  • SoapThe sudsier the better!   
  • Sponges, rags, etc.:  Get creative!  Choose big sponges, little sponges, and sponges with texture.  Old socks? Sure!  Grab toothbrushes and even a clean paintbrush for scrubbing wheels and tires.  

Ready, set, wash!  

Help your child spray the whole car with water to get off the big pieces of dirt and prepare it for scrubbing.  Now the real fun begins!  Encourage smearing the soap around using a sponge, rag, and of course – bare hands!  Demonstrate crossing midline (reaching across the invisible line that separates the right/left side of the body), by making big figure eights in the suds on the side of the car.  Instruct your kiddo to squat, crawl, kneel, and reach up on their tip-toes to clean those hard-to-reach places.   The fun doesn’t have to end when the car’s rinsed and it’s time to clean up; take turns tossing the sponges/rags into the bucket to practice underhand and overhand throwing.  When it comes to washing the car with your child, the opportunities for movement (and fun), are endless!