Chores for Kids

Chores for kids teaches responsibility and trains them to run a household. Essentially, that is one of our tasks as parents: Train our children to be responsible adults.

The best time to implement chores for kids is when they're young. It's a natural time to start because they are eager to help and you encourage that behavior :)

But if your children are older; don't be discouraged. Starting late is better than never starting -- so kudos to you!




Before I get into the details of actual chores for kids, I want to share some "perspectives" that guide these chores. If you will, a philosophy, which I hope will help you understand the need for chores, the role of chores and grace within chores.

Chores are a part of everyday life -- we all have them as adults, which are unrelated to our "9 to 5" job. Wash the dishes, wash the clothes, clean the house, put gas in the car, wash the car, mow the lawn, etc.

No one can avoid these daily tasks -- at least not for long :)

The point is: If we spare our children from daily chores, we are not really teaching them about the realities of life. We avoid preparing them for the inevitable responsibilities they will face each day as adults.

SO, by starting out with small chores when they are young, which grow to larger chores as they mature; you are preparing them for life. You are teaching them to handle tasks within everyday life -- carefully and selectively teaching them to "juggle" the demands of life :)




Kids

Don't feel guilt over assigning chores for your kids -- this is life and reality! This is a picture of my 5 "chore-doers."

You are not "robbing" their childhood, because you will be assigning chores within reason. You won't be overloading them with unreasonable tasks -- they will be appropriately assigned chores for kids :)

This is why I don't encourage giving an allowance based on kids doing their chores. You don't need to pay your kids to do reasonable tasks that are expected from every family member as part of being a family.

No one will pay them when they are adults to do the dishes or prepare dinner; mow the lawn or take out the garbage. They are not inventing the wheel -- they are participating as all family members do.

Don't train them to expect pay for performing everyday tasks that are required of all people living on the face of the earth.

A family works together and shares the responsibilities of a household within reason of one's age and abilities.




Now that we've visited the hard-nosed facts and realities about chores; let's introduce grace into chores for kids :)

There are days we find ourselves unable to complete all of our daily chores, and we need to adjust our tasks. We are too tired to cook dinner after a busy day, so we order pizza; we are unable to mow the lawn because of a schedule change or exhaustion. This is all reasonable!

There are chores that have a natural fudge-factor in them, like dinner or cleaning -- we can order in, or tasks can be rescheduled.

We need to allow our kids grace within their chores on occasion -- they too can feel exhausted or overwhelmed some days and need grace in completing a chore.

They need to feel comfortable coming to you and asking for an extension; after all, you are a family working together.

It takes a lot of maturity for a child to be vulnerable like that and a compromise should be reached.

This teaches your child a great lesson in receiving and extending grace, and in their eyes: They see you as reasonable. Score one up for mom and dad :) This will be good for your relationship and they will adopt this attitude of grace in their relationships too, which will serve them well in life.

Grace is a blessing we can extend to others, because we appreciate grace when it's extended to us.

Together with Anna

This is my 2nd daughter who "thinks I'm reasonable." :)
Okay! Now, on with the chores for kids :)

If you have young kids and can start early; that is best because they are so cooperative and want to help mommy. They learn everyday tasks which simply become part of their daily routine, and never get the dreaded label of "chores."

So, let's start there.

Chores for kids: Young children, as soon as they master walking until about 2 years of age.

1. They can do basic pick up in their room. You need to teach them how to do this, and show them what you mean by "clean-up."

2. After you dress them in the morning, have them put their jammies in the dresser drawer or in the hamper.

3. They can straighten their bed -- work with them and encourage them.

4. They can pick up the toys in their room -- make it easy for toys to be put away in a cute basket or bin.

This becomes part of their morning routine; the same goes for bedtime.

5. At bedtime, have them put their clothes in the hamper and be sure their toys are put away before going to bed.

These are reasonable tasks at this age with help from you, until they can handle them on their own. Be sure to assist them until their body cooperates with their willing spirit :)

6. Kids at this age can pick up their own toys in the play area or living room -- again, be sure to help at first and make it easy to gather toys in a basket or bin.

Also, no need to overload kids with toys -- they can only play with one toy at a time, so choose wisely.

7. Don't allow them to take out all their toys at once -- no need for that, and it's harder to pick up. They can play with a reasonable amount of toys and then put them away before getting others -- you are teaching them to "clean as they go." :)

8. Kids at this age can also follow simple commands to retrieve items for mom and dad.

For instance, "Bring mommy the book you want to read." "Put the book away on the shelf." "Bring your sippy cup to the counter."Very simple tasks that become part of the daily routine.

These chores will be mastered over the next couple of years with you adding other simple tasks as they present themselves and based on your child's abilities.

Other chores for kids may be:

Bringing items to the counter from the dinner table.
Helping to stir cookies.
Throwing pieces of trash away.
Turning off the lights when leaving a room.

Very simple tasks that they feel good about doing because they are helping mommy.

Give them much praise for their accomplishments and cooperation :)



Chores for kids between the ages of 3 and 4 (depending on their abilities) until about 6 years of age:

1. They will continue to master the above tasks, do them independently and without being told.

You will begin to add more difficult tasks as they mature -- you will have to be the judge of that for your own child, but it should fall into this age range (3 - 6 years old). Each child is so different that it's difficult to put a blanket age for a given chore, so these are ballpark ranges.

These tasks may be:

2. Set and clear the table.

3. Feed a pet.

4. Assist in giving the dog a bath.

5. Sweep the kitchen floor.

6. Straighten the DVD's.

7. Crack an egg into a bowl for a recipe -- be sure to wash their hands good after this task.

8. Carry laundry into the laundry room.

9. Deliver folded laundry to separate rooms.

10. Match the socks and fold hand towels.

11. Put away their own laundry in appropriate drawers.

12. Hang clothes in their room.

13. Bring in the mail -- watch them if your mailbox is near the street or at the end of the driveway. Don't have them do this chore if you are on a busy intersection or there is traffic.

14. Take out the trash -- again, if cans are out by the street: Don't have them do this chore.

15. Teach personal hygiene.

These new tasks are added onto the tasks they have already mastered and are doing regularly as a part of everyday living. You will need to walk them through each task and teach them what's expected and how to do it -- be sure to teach any safety precautions as well!

Remember to show balance and grace in your teaching :) You're doing a great job!



GUIDING PRINCIPLE:

These chores for kids will most likely be shared by multiple children, so one child is not responsible for all of these chores at once.

They should have chores that are consistent everyday -- these involve personal hygiene items and picking up after themselves; then, they will also have a few other "family" chores -- some of the ones I've listed.

Each week the "family" chores will change or rotate between children. Essentially, one child is not handling all these chores at one time -- it's too much for one child.

The important thing is for them to learn each chore, master it and have it rotate into their daily responsibilities on a regular basis. This teaches them balance and how to manage their time.

You will be the one to set up this schedule. You can do it :) Just consider the chores for kids, the size of your family, your children's age and abilities. Rotate the chores very simply each week.

Obviously, as they get older, they will take on more difficult tasks. If you need to stay on the previous chores longer, then do that until you feel confident your child knows those tasks and can perform them with little assistance.

You'll recognize they are doing these chores as part of their daily living, so it doesn't seem to be "extra" or too difficult. They consider this part of their role in the family, because they have not known anything different -- everybody participates and cooperates.

Chores for kids encourages shared family responsibilities, which boosts your child's self-esteem.



Chores for kids 5 to 6 years old until 10:

1. Fold all towels and put away.

2. Load and unload the dishwasher.

3. Bake cookies or bars with help -- teach them how to read a recipe.

4. Dust the furniture.

5. Wash the car with help.

6. Vacuum small areas.

7. Clean the lower windows from inside.

8. Reorganize and straighten their drawers or closets.

9. Manage their personal belongings -- within reason.

10. Pull weeds with assistance.

11. Water plants.

12. Prepare, or at least help, in making their lunch for school.

13. Change their bed linens with help.

An aside: I still make my kids' lunches because I want to. It's good to teach them how to do this, but you may also choose to make their lunches. These chores are guidelines and not the law: Grace and flexibility are paramount.

You will notice that many of the above chores include, "with assistance" or "with help." That's because you will have to walk your children through each chore and teach them how to do these tasks.

Then, give guidance as needed when they are performing them. Do this with ample amounts of praise :)

Remember, one child is not doing all these chores alone -- these would be shared amoung all your children, and introduced when they are old enough to handle these chores. That should happen somewhere between 5 and 10 years of age.

Training children to take on chores requires parental involvement, because you have to teach them; no one knows how to do this without instruction and practice. But the effort will be well worth it and reap great benefits for your child and family :)



Chores for kids age 10 to 13 years of age:

As stated earlier, your child will continue to master all the above chores for kids. You may need to assess if this is enough for now or he/she is ready to add more. They will continue to practice their learned skills and develop new as they are ready.

1. They can take on more tasks in cleaning, like mopping the kitchen floor or cleaning a bigger bathroom.

2. Teach them to spot-clean their clothes and to do a load of wash.

3. Make simple meals -- grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, pancakes, refrigerator biscuits and breads, and soup.

4. Expand their knowledge in reading recipes, and teach them about measurements.

5. Sweep the porch or deck.

6. Wash pots and pans that don't go in the dishwasher.

7. Fold all types of laundry.

8. Vacuum the car with a Dustbuster or small hand-held vacuum. You will need to teach this and monitor them.

9. Empty the trash from the car.

10. Rake and bag leaves -- this is usually a group project.

11. Your child may take on some light family babysitting as they approach 13 years of age. I wouldn't recommend a 13 year old being left alone with the care of younger children until they show signs of real maturity. They can start slow by watching younger siblings with you at home to monitor and teach. They would benefit from taking a Red Cross or community education course for babysitting in order to prepare them for this responsibility.

CAUTION: Be sensitive to add these chores when your child is ready. Every child develops at different rates and you will be the best judge of when these chores are appropriate. And remember, the chores for kids are shared by multiple children and one child cannot be responsible for all these chores at once :)



Chores for kids age 13 - high school:

This is when chores for kids really kicks up in terms of expanding their knowledge base; yet, they need to be monitored carefully to allow for an expanded school schedule.

By the time they leave your home after high school graduation, you want them to know all the tasks necessary to run a household.

These include:

1. Everything listed above.

2. All cleaning chores.

3. Spot-cleaning, washing and drying clothes -- I have never made my kids do all their own laundry; I just didn't feel comfortable with that. They all know how to do laundry, but I never made them solely responsible to clean their own clothes.

4. Expand their cooking base.

5. Grocery shop under your tutelage.

6. Run simple errands once they get their driver's license.

7. Have the kids help with decorating for Christmas.

8. Possibly paint their room -- of course, be sure they know how to do this :)

9. Assemble simple pieces of furniture with your help.

10. Mow the lawn -- be sure to teach safety precautions first.

11. A few car maintenance tasks like changing the oil, and checking the level of air in the tires. Of course, filling the tank with gas.

You may have other tasks that relate to your family's specific needs, and add these as appropriate. You will continue teaching these chores for kids until they are no longer "kids." :)

I hope this gives you some parameters in teaching and implementing chores for kids. You're a great parent and doing a great job!! :)

Julie



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