Best Age Appropriate Chores for Kids
"Many hands make light work" is a great motto for establishing the habit of chores, or another way to think of it, the habit of helping! If you are looking for age-appropriate ideas for helping around the house, here are a few tips that are sure to get the little ones involved. Plus, 25 ideas for kids ages six and up to get everyone in the habit of pitching in.
Ideas for introducing chores
- One suggestion is to differentiate between "tidy" and "clean". On some occasions, it might be necessary to just tidy (remove clutter from surfaces and floors and make the bed/straighten the couch and pillows) versus cleaning where the vacuum and cleaning supplies make an appearance. Depending on your tolerance for clutter, you could give the daily chore of room tidying and a once-a-week chore of room cleaning.
- Letting chores correspond to certain ages can sometimes add anticipation and motivation. For example, feeding the dog can be the job for a younger child while walking the family pet could be reserved as a privilege for later.
- First show the child how you want the chore done, not perfectly, but so they know what you consider a job well-done. Then be consistent with expecting the work to be completed and not done by others. And finally, you don't have to heap on the praise, but a simple, "Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it," once the job is complete helps children feel like their contribution is valued.
Ideas for delegating chores
- Assign chores by writing them on popsicle sticks and drawing them out on cleaning day.
- Assign family members a daily chore that rotates every week to a new member of the family.
- Assign zones and a family member is responsible for keeping that zone tidy throughout the week and/or cleaning it once a month.
- No matter what method you choose for delegating chores, make sure that it is sustainable for your household. An elaborate chore chart might be cute, but if it doesn't get used past that first enthusiastic week, go ahead and try another system.
Chores for early elementary
- Tidy Bedroom - "A place for everything and everything in its place" does bring peace of mind for most every human. Giving a child the weekly chore (or the daily chore if you want to keep up with it) of putting away possessions in their rightful place is a great beginning responsibility.
- Toy Care - As children get older and can manage more intricate toys, ask the child to put away all the pieces at the end of the day or at the end of the weekend, so there is a clean start when they resume play next time.
- Laundry Sorting - What better way to learn textures and colors than laundry sorting? If you have early readers, encourage them to look at tags to understand what the words instruct about how to wash different clothing.
- Sweep Floors - A small dustpan and hand broom can make this chore easy for small people.
- Set the Table - Liven up this chore with colorful plastic plates or character plates with your family's favorite superheroes. Even the smallest helper can contribute by putting a paper napkin at each spot.
- Clear the table - This is an essential skill not just for showing thankfulness for the meal, but it teaches kids to offer this help at other people's homes, which any host will tell you is admired and appreciated.
- Pull weeds (with supervision) - Set a kitchen timer and start with a short session of weed pulling. As your child grows you can get them started with more complicated yard work.
- Tidy Playroom or Other Toy Area - If you have a shared play space, it can be managed by everyone but given a proper sorting and cleaning once a week by a designated toy room monitor.
- Feed the Family Pet - To make this easy for small children, put the food in a closable tub in an area where the child can work without the pet bothering them. Getting a scoop that measures the exact portion that the pet needs helps lower the risk of overfeeding.
- Bread or Snack Prep - A simple task like making toast, buttering and putting it in a warming dish can be a worthwhile way to incorporate a child into mealtime. Snack prep can be a weekend chore where the child divides snacks into portion sizes for the week ahead.
Chores for older elementary students
- Wash Table after Meals - Having a crumb-free table after meals (especially if homework is going to be done there) is a blessing for the whole family. Use a small spray bottle of water and cloth or paper towel to get sticky spots as well.
- Prep Veggies - While your child may not be ready for handling a knife, washing vegetables and fruit is a helpful meal-prep chore. Almost any aged child can handle using a plastic knife to cut up soft fruit like a banana for fruit salad.
- Vacuum - You don't have to break the bank, but a light cordless vacuum can help children start tackling this chore in a manageable way. And if you have a pet, using a lint roller on furniture for pet hair can be another task that is helpful and easy to manage.
- Empty Dishwasher - If your child can't reach upper cabinets, then they can put away what belongs in lower cabinets and then stack plates and cups for an adult to put away later. It may even be worth your time to rearrange your kitchen during this season of life to make kitchen-helping easier for small people.
- Take the Pet for a Walk - As mentioned earlier, this can be an add-on responsibility along with feeding the beloved family pet and should be accompanied by a parent to establish the route.
- Beginning Babysitting - Mature upper elementary students can be given the chore of offering small chunks of time as a "parent helper" which means babysitting while the parents are at home.
- Feather Dusting - Feather dusting has not gone the way of the French Maid! Grab one at your local grocery store and teach your elementary student the gentle art of sweeping away dust. Start out with areas that have fewer breakable items.
- Sweep with Full-Sized Broom - If they are tall enough to manage a full-sized broom, sweeping can be a weekly chore to incorporate. Ideas include sweeping the sidewalks after mowing, sweeping a front porch or sweeping out the garage.
- Bathroom Tidy - While you may not be ready to put cleaning products in the hands of your child, they can empty waste baskets, change towels and organize grooming products. As they get older, simple cleaning solutions can be incorporated so they learn to care for a space they are (hopefully!) using more often for showering and grooming.
Chores for the middle years
- Bedding and Towel Washing - If you want to introduce laundry chores, bedding and towels are a good starter since they typically need the same wash temperature and settings. Teach kids to follow through with putting laundry in the dryer (so it doesn't get stinky!), then folding and putting away which will bless the whole family. Who doesn't love a freshly laundered towel!
- Supervised Cooking - Learning to read directions on packages, measure, and use a timer are fantastic beginning cooking skills that can be incorporated into the chore rotation. Keep it simple and light-hearted to create positive kitchen experiences that will last a lifetime.
- Using a Clothing Steamer or Iron - Showing your child how to take the wrinkles out of clothes will teach them an important life skill to help get ready for dressy events and later for that all-important job interview.
- Toilet Duty - Since using household cleaners can be tricky, this one should be assigned at the parent's discretion. Teaching your child to properly clean a toilet is a skill that they (and all their future roommates) will thank you for.
- Change Bed Sheets - The fitted sheet may require some assistance, but after that, older children can add changing their sheets and remaking their bed to their room cleaning chore list.
- Yard Help - These are the years you may have been dreaming of: when they can handle starting and walking behind the push mower. You can also add other outside tasks like sweeping, raking leaves, picking up trash and limbs, and more serious weed pulling and edging.
While teaching and monitoring chores can be time-consuming, remember you are instilling life-long skills and a sense of responsibility as well. Start today with any of these 25 suggestions so that helping becomes a wonderful habit in your home.
Julie David is a freelance writer, educator, and worship pastor's wife from the Midwest who likes warm hugs.