When I was a child, my parents did not give us any household chores. My mother, who handled most of the household activities, hoped I would see her doing housework and offer to help. But because I was a typical child who didn’t see chores as a fun activity, I never offered to assist my mother.
As an adult, I look back and think assigning chores would have been a much better strategy. I would have learned more about maintaining a home, and my mother would have had some help. Everyone would have been better served.
But how do you know what chores are appropriate for your children? While all children and families are different, here are some guidelines to get you started.
Toddler (ages 1-3)
· Pick up toys in a small area (floor, shelf, table) and put them away
· Put books on shelves
· Place clothes in hamper
· Put trash/recycling in proper place within the home
Preschool/kindergarten (3-5 years)
· Make bed daily with help
· Carry belongings to and from car
· Help set table and clear dishes
· Sort laundry by color
· Carry newspapers and magazines to recycle bin
Primary grades (1-3 grade / 6-8 years)
· Make bed
· Put away own things (backpack, lunch box, coat)
· Empty dishwasher
· Help fold laundry
· Replace the toilet paper when it is gone
Upper elementary (4-5 grade/ 9-10 years)
· Put clean laundry away
· Keep room neat
· Clear table after meals
· Load and empty dishwasher
· Assist in meal planning and preparation
Middle school (6-8 grade/11-14 years)
· Be more self-reliant with homework, activities, carpool rides
· Clean bathroom, closet, and drawers
· Vacuum and dust
Suggestions like these can help you develop a chore list that is right for your family. As you choose chores for your children, make sure you explain how to do each task and your expectations. Use specific language. Phrases like “straighten the room” need to be broken down into specific jobs, so your children understand exactly what you want them to accomplish.
Written how-to reminders can be helpful in reminding children how to do each chore. You could use a dry erase marker to outline the steps for doing the laundry on the side of the washing machine or dryer. This little checklist can help remind them what needs to be done and in what order.
It’s also important to let your children accomplish their tasks in their own way. They may approach something a bit differently than you would, but that’s not necessarily a problem.