Even though parents often find it’s easier to do things themselves, chores are actually good for kids. Regardless of whether they are working for allowance or not (that’s a whole different conversation!) chores help build skills, a sense of responsibility and self-esteem in feeling competent, helpful and capable. But, what is appropriate for a 2-year-old or a 13-year-old to do? Here is a list of suitable chores for the various ages of your kids…
2-3 years old: Helping fold laundry and carry stacks of cloths, towels, etc. to the appropriate room; helping set and clear the table; Putting toys away in buckets and baskets (with help); wiping a table or cleaning a window or mirror; helping feed and water pets.
4-5 years old: Setting and clearing the table with minimal help; sorting laundry; Help make beds; Help with laundry folding and putting away; Pick up toys; Feed and water pets; Help weed and water in the garden; Help bring in groceries and put away; May be able to help vacuum in small, easy rooms; Dusting.
6-7 years old: Helping sort recycling; Loading the dishwasher; Helping wash dishes; Laundry tasks; Setting and clearing the table; Vacuum and sweep (can be put in charge of the porch or a reasonable-sized room); Tidy own room; Make bed with minimal help; Take care of pets; Help in the garden (watering, weeding, hauling); Help wash car; Washing windows.
8-10 years old: Sorting recycling; Taking out trash; Cleaning bathroom; Loading and unloading the dishwasher or washing dishes; Helping with meal preparation (can help feed younger siblings – make sandwiches, cereal, etc.); Take over cleaning room; Carry in and unload groceries (and put away); Feed, water, clean pets (including clean out a litter box, or clean a small animal’s cage); Sweeping, vacuuming, dusting. By this age, some kids can generally take responsibility for accomplishing a task on a weekly basis. Some kids need more time to get into a routine.
11-13 years old; Taking over some gardening and yard tasks (learn to use lawn mower, clippers, etc.); Washing car; Help with food preparation; Be sent to store for quick trips and a few items; Cleaning room, changing sheets, etc.; Sort, wash, fold and put away laundry; Looking after younger siblings; Helping with more complicated projects like cleaning garage; Painting; Cleaning out a closet or cupboard; Cleaning bathroom.
Every child is different and will develop at different rates. Some kids love the responsibility and independence of doing helpful tasks while others work better in a group or side-by-side with a family member or friend. You may choose to put the chores in writing and do a traditional “chore chart” – awarding stickers or stamps for each completed task. Other families, use chores to determine a weekly or monthly allowance. There is no absolutely “right” way of managing chores in your household. The important thing to remember is that children will need guidance and direction as they begin to learn any new task – they can’t be expected to know the correct way to do something without being taught. Most of us learn through repetition, so Mom or Dad will most likely need to do some helping and shadowing in the beginning years.