“One thing I think kids need to do is more chores, and take care of their own rooms. Responsibilities are really important to start them with.” Faith Ford
Kids develop self-esteem, positive character training, and a good work ethic when they are trained to participate in the ways of Family Responsibility. But while the goal of giving our kids chores to help them grow up to be decent human beings is a worthy one, the specifics of what chores to give our kids can get complicated.
It’s worth figuring it out if we don’t want our kids living with us for the rest of our lives while we wait on them hand and foot. A key aspect of giving our kids the character-building benefits of chores is to assign them age-appropriate tasks. It would be unreasonable of us to expect our kids to do a job well if it’s not even a job that they should have.
In order to help you out, I’ve put together a list of possible chores to assign your kids. The chores are roughly divided by age (with some overlap), but please make judgment calls about your specific kids in regards to maturity and physical limitations (development of fine motor skills, for example). So if one of your kids has trouble holding a pencil, maybe he’s not ready to deal with your expensive china. The goal is that your kids are successful with whatever job they’re given.
Also, household responsibilities should not take over a child’s life, even for us homeschoolers. My own children have daily chores that they complete in the morning, evening, and after each meal, but they don’t take an inordinate amount of time (although my kids might disagree LOL). If I have them participate in any real cleaning, like cleaning bathrooms or vacuuming, that happens once a week. So while my kids are getting good training in basic housework and a little bit of cleaning, the time they each spend on chores is almost insignificant since we all work together to maintain our home.
“Those who had done chores as young children were more likely to be well-adjusted, have better relationships with friends and family and be more successful in their careers.” Marty Rossman
Realistic List of Chores by Age
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Select a few (not all!) of the chores below and incorporate them into a household chore routine for your kids.
And to make things super easy, grab my chore charts so that you have a visual reminder for your kids!
(Pssssssss…You can download a PDF with all of this information >>>here<<<.)
Toddler (ages 2-4)
- dust with a dry rag, microfiber cloth, or paper towel
- help bring dirty laundry to laundry room
- 5-Minute (or 3-Minute) Clean-Up
- wipe down outdoor furniture with a wet cloth
Preschooler (ages 4-5) – same as above plus:
- make bed (imperfectly)
- help load dirty laundry into washing machine (SUPERVISED!)
- help unload clean laundry from dryer into laundry basket
- use dustpan to clean up floor under table after a meal
- give pets dry food
- pull weeds
- water plants (SUPERVISED!)
- pick up fallen branches
Early elementary (ages 5-8) – same as above plus:
- dust with non-toxic cleaner
- clean bathroom counters with non-toxic cleaner
- learn to fold some items of clothing (ex. shirts, pants)
- wipe down the table after a meal
- prepare a simple snack (SUPERVISED!)
- use handheld vacuum to clean up crumbs under table after a meal
- help put raked leaves into bags
Upper elementary (ages 8-11) – same as above plus:
- get laundry started by themselves (depending on maturity)
- fold all of their own laundry and put it away
- unload the dishwasher (depending on fine motor skills, breakables, and maturity)
- wash dishes (depending on fine motor skills, breakables, and maturity)
- take out the trash
- Swiffer the floor
- prepare a simple lunch like a sandwich (SUPERVISED!)
- give pets water and dry food
- get mail (SUPERVISED!)
- rake leaves
Middle school (ages 11-13) – same as above plus:
- do all of their own laundry by themselves
- prepare a simple meal (SUPERVISED!)
- clean toilets
Set Your Kids Up for Success
It’s worth your time to put some thought into how you can ensure that your kids are able to complete their chores successfully. For example:
- Purchase non-toxic cleaners.
- Have paper towels and microfiber cloths handy.
- Provide wheeled or easy-to-carry hampers.
- Store cleaning supplies near where they are used.
- Make bed-making easy – no top sheet!
You get my drift. And making the chores super simple for your kids will make them easier for you, too! Win-win!
While creating a chore routine can be a challenge, choosing a couple of appropriate chores for our kids will help them gain confidence when they see that they can make a concrete, material, and helpful contribution to the family. Chores get done and everybody wins!