Practical Life: Ironing

Continuing to build our understanding of Practical Life, let’s take an in depth look at Ironing…

Ironing is the culminating activity in a trifecta of Practical Life lessons. This series begins with Polishing, a lesson typically given earlier in the child’s time in the Children’s House. The cloths used in Polishing are then put in the bin for Cloth Washing. When they dry after being washed, they go into the basket for Ironing. Children’s House Guide Jessie Braud shares, “Ironing is the crowning piece of this three-part cycle. The child must be old enough and mature enough to be given the responsibility of working with the combination of water, electricity and heat. There is a definite pride in being given this lesson.”

The child prepares for the work by donning an apron.
Choosing a cloth. “Which one would you like to iron?”
The child fills the bowl with water to use on the cloths.
Then the guide and the child smell the lavender water which they’ll add to the bowl of water to give the laundry a lovely fresh smell.
Just one drop of lavender water is mixed in!
The child uses their fingers to sprinkle the lightly scented water onto the cloths.
The cloths are then rolled, allowing the fresh smell to permeate the cloths and providing the cloths with that slight dampness that is needed to produce just a little steam when ironing.

After plugging the iron in, the child must wait for it to heat. Here, Ms. Braud shares, they normally sing a song of the child’s choosing. When the child is later doing the work on their own, they can often be found singing to themselves at this time!

When the child and guide can smell that the iron is hot, they press it on the board to test it.
The guide touches the board where the iron was, “Yes, it’s hot.”
The child feels the heat as well. (You can see classmates looking on to this much anticipated lesson!)
The cloth to be ironed is unrolled and laid on the board.
The guide deliberately irons it, tending to the corners.
Guide and child both admire the product. A cloth with no wrinkles! How beautiful.
Now it is the child’s turn.

When finished, the child cleans up.
The ironed cloths are sorted, straightened and ready to use!

Many dismiss ironing as an outdated practice. But notice the child’s joy in this work. Let us not allow our views to hinder our children’s possibilities. Rather, let us allow their joy in work to kindle within us the willingness to partake and find meaning in our own work.

This story through pictures would not be possible without the skillful work of Melinda Smith. Many thanks Melinda.