The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Chores Young Children Can Do

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chores Young Children Can Do

During the summer months, parents often look for things to keep thier kids busy - crafts, camps, books, etc.  This is the perfect time to begin them on a chore chart.  The list below comes from my friends at www.housekeeping.org...

For preschoolers:
  1. Making Their Own Bed – Between the ages of three and five, kids aren’t likely to be the best bed-makers in the world, but they can certainly get the job done. Remember, the object of asking them to make their own bed is to establish the habit and ensure that it becomes part of their routine. When kids get older and their coordination improves, parents can offer instructions for how to do the job perfectly.
  2. Cleaning Up Their Rooms – Your child’s bedroom is her own space, so she should be as responsible as possible for ensuring that it’s maintained. During the preschool years she should be able to put her own toys away, place books back on a low bookshelf, and ensure that any cups or dishes are returned to the kitchen.
  3. Helping to Fold Laundry – Folding socks and t-shirts are simple enough tasks for a preschooler, though they aren’t likely to fold shirts like a retail pro would. As long as items aren’t wadded up and wrinkled, preschoolers should be encouraged to help their parents with the folding of simple laundry items. Towels are an ideal choice for practice, as they have no irregular edges.
  4. Putting Away Their Own Laundry – Clothing items that require hanging should probably still be handled by the taller members of the family, but a preschooler is more than capable of putting her own folded clothing in the appropriate drawer.
  5. Helping to Set the Table – Unbreakable dishes can be entrusted to a preschooler in order for them to set the table, though glasses and china for the adults might be safer in older, steadier hands. Helping to set the table for a family meal helps kids learn the practical skill of setting a table, but also allows them to feel like an integral part of the family meal ritual.
  6. Putting Dishes in the Dishwasher – Preschool-aged kids are able to carry their own dishes from the table, clear them, and put them in the dishwasher. Because dishwasher doors can be a bit heavy and unwieldy for little hands, adults should help by opening the door for them.
  7. Sweeping or Using a Handheld Vacuum Cleaner – Small, kid-sized brooms and dustpans can be found in most department stores and toy stores; with these tools, your preschooler will be able to help you sweep the floor much more easily than she could with a heavy, too-long adult model. Additionally, kids at this age can also usually manage a small, hand-held vacuum cleaner to clean up crumbs.
  8. Checking the Mail – Making a daily trip to the mailbox part of your preschooler’s routine is likely to be his favorite task of the day. However, it’s imperative that parents accompany young children, especially if there’s any danger at all of a child stepping into the street while attempting to access the mailbox. Checking the mail should be a chore that you perform together to ensure your little one’s safety.
  9. Watering Plants – A small watering can that your child is capable of managing creates the opportunity for her to help out with the watering of plants. At the older end of the preschool spectrum, it might be a good idea to introduce a small potted plant that is hers specifically. Remembering to water the plant regularly is essential to its survival, which helps kids understand the responsibility and care of living things that are dependent upon others for their survival.
  10. Caring for Family Pets – By the time your child is a preschooler, she should be able to feed and water the family dog or cat; feeding an exotic pet, like a snake, is almost certainly more than she can handle. Provided that you have a more traditional pet, however, your preschooler is more than capable of ensuring that it has food and water.
Even toddlers can do some chores:
  1. Picking Up Toys – Putting toys in their appropriate places, whether in her bedroom or in a designated spot in a common area, is a chore that your toddler is capable of and should be encouraged to do. Learning to put things away after she’s done playing with them at a young age will help her to maintain that habit as she gets older.
  2. Matching Socks – Helping to match socks isn’t just a chore that toddlers are capable of, it’s also a great way for parents or nannies to help them learn color and pattern recognition. Little ones may have trouble matching all white socks, so be prepared to offer some guidance and loving assistance while they’re helping.
  3. Setting the Table – If your toddler eats daytime meals or snacks at a table that’s just his size, he can help to set that table before he eats. The safe, unbreakable dishware favored by most parents of toddlers won’t shatter if he drops it on the way, and performing a task for himself will satisfy the need to assert independence that most toddlers have.
  4. Clearing Their Own Dishes – After eating a meal, a toddler can help her parents and learn to straighten up after herself by clearing her own dishes. Provided that she’s able to reach the table where she eats, she can perform this task without assistance. If she’s still taking her meals in a highchair, or if she eats at the family table with a booster seat, an adult may have to hand her the dishes before she can take them to a designated place.
  5. Dusting Low Surfaces – During the toddler stage, kids love to help out. Dusting, a tedious chore by adult standards, can be a blast for little ones. Low surfaces, such as coffee tables and end tables, are likely to be just the right height to allow a toddler to reach them. Putting a sock over your toddler’s hand will allow her to dust without using a wand duster, which may be unwieldy in little hands and could lead to broken knick-knacks.
  6. Making Their Own Bed – Though no toddler is going to be able to achieve military standards with their bed-making skills, they can pull the blankets up, put the pillow in its appropriate place and smooth out any wrinkles they notice. As kids get older, parents can help them learn the intricacies of making a bed properly; during the toddler phase, it’s more important for kids to form the habit of making their bed than to focus on doing it impeccably.
  7. Helping to Clean Up Spills – Toddlers and spills go hand in hand, as any parent or childcare provider is well aware of. Between the ages of one and three years, kids are capable of helping an adult to clean up spills, especially those that they’re responsible for. Learning to clean up their own messes is a very important lesson for little ones, though an adult may have to help at this young age.
  8. Feeding Pets – Depending on the sort of pet that you have toddlers can help with their feeding and watering. Dumping a cup of dry food into a dog or cat’s bowl is simple enough for little ones and their developing motor skills, and it also teaches kids the importance of caring for another living thing. Fish and other pets than can suffer a dire fate from overfeeding might not be the best choice, as toddlers tend to be overzealous and are likely to provide more food than is strictly necessary.
  9. Straightening Up Common Areas – Clearing away clutter in common areas is a task that toddlers are able to help with, especially if some of that clutter is the result of their own behavior. In addition to learning the importance of clearing their own mess away, toddlers can also begin to grasp the concept of helping others by assisting an adult during the straightening process.
  10. Putting Dirty Laundry Away – Laundry is lightweight and easy for little hands to grasp; as long as the designated laundry receptacle is a low basket rather than a tall, lidded hamper, a toddler is more than capable of picking dirty laundry off of the floor and dropping it into a basket.
Remember that children are not adults and should not be expected to remember every chore every time, but this is a step in the right direction toward turning your little person into a responsible older person one day :-)  And naturally, your older children perfectly capable of doing all of the above chores, gently supervising their younger siblings, and doing some chores for older kids like taking out the trash.

Happy parenting!

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