10 Chores for Big Kids
As parents one of the things we want to teach our children is responsibility. But how can we do this? Well, doing chores is a start! Kids, just like adults, want to feel needed and to feel like they’ve made a contribution to the family and chores can help in this arena. But, you might be wondering what are some things your kids can help out with around the house. And what age is appropriate for them to start chores? Read on for some chores your kids can start as young as 3 –with help! — and continue to do as they get older.
1. Clean up the playroom
Age 2 and up — One of the very first chores we can teach our kids to do is to clean up their spaces. Kids as young as two can help clean up messes they make. Encourage them to help clean up when they’re done with their toys so that cleaning up becomes second nature. They can assist with putting blocks back in a container or putting toys back on shelves.
2. Laundry Help
Age 3 and up — When your children are learning their colors they’re old enough to help you with the laundry! Whether your child is 3 or 10, they can help you sort lights and darks. For the younger kids, this is also a great way to sneak in a lesson on shades and colors! Younger kids will also have a blast dumping the detergent in and pushing the buttons on the washer or dryer.
Older kids (age 10 and up) can be taught how to do the entire load of laundry, although you’ll still want to supervise to make sure there’s not an errant red sock in with the light colored clothing.
3. Set & Clear the dinner table
Age 3 and up — While you’re scrambling to get dinner on the table have your kids help you by setting the table. Little kids can start with things that aren’t breakable–like folding napkins or putting out forks and spoons. Older kids can set the entire table. And, don’t forget about clean up. From age 3, teach your child that he or she is responsible for clearing his or her spot after family mealtime is over. Younger kids can simply bring their plates over to the sink. Older kids can wash their plates or put them in the dishwasher.
4. Get the mail
Age 4 and up — Most children love this task because they love to see if anything came in the mail for them! If your mailbox is at the end of your driveway or in a common area like a lobby, you’ll want to be sure you supervise your children when they get the mail. But, they can still help. Little kids can carry the mail back to the house with you. As they get older, big kids can be trusted to go to the mailbox and bring the mail back to the house.
5. Feed the pets
Age 4 and up — Kids often promise to help take care of the family pet but don’t follow through, leaving one more job for mom to do. Well, remind them of their promise and have the kids feed the animals. Little kids can scoop dry food or bring you the empty food bowls so you can fill them. Older kids can take care of all feeding needs and can help with bathroom needs too (like taking Fido for a walk or letting him out if he has to go).
6. Make the Bed
Age 4 and up — Around age 4 you can teach your child how to make the bed and encourage them to do it on their own. It may not be perfectly neat, but it’s the effort that counts. Be sure to praise them on a job well done and resist the urge to straighten the covers. As your child gets older he or she can make the bed before school every day.
7. Help pack lunch
Age 4 and up — Whether you make your child’s lunch at night or in the morning, enlist the help of the child! Ask them what snacks they want and have them get the snacks from the cabinet or fridge. After you’ve made a sandwich, have your child put it in a baggie or wrap it up in plastic wrap or foil. And, remind them to pack themselves a napkin!
8. Dust & Sweep
Age 4 and up — If you have the right tools, any job can be fun for a kid! Invest in a kid-size broom and a feather duster (you may even find them at the dollar store) and hand them over to your little ones. You will be amazed at how much fun they have with a duster or a broom while getting things clean. Turn on some tunes and make it a dance party while you’re at it!
9. Answer the phone
Age 4/5 and up — A great way to teach your child social skills is to teach them how to answer the phone. Depending on the maturity of your child, he or she can start answering the phone around age 4 with a lot of coaching and help from you. Teach them to say “Hello” and then respond to whatever the caller is saying. If they are unsure what to do after that, teach them to say, “Hold on, please. I’ll go get my mom/dad”. Kids usually love answering the phone, so have fun with this one!
10. Get Ready for School/Bed
Age 4/5 and up — Children want to be independent so learning how to get themselves ready for school or for bedtime is a great way to get started. For younger kids, try setting out 2 outfit choices and then leave the room and let them get dressed by themselves. Make it a game and let the child “surprise” you with the outfit choice. The same thing goes for bedtime. Have your child take off his or her school clothes, put them in the hamper and then get into their pajamas all by themselves.
Other general tips
1. Don’t worry about perfection. Kids are learning and it’s the effort that counts. Focus on the fact that your child tried, not the end result.
2. Make it a habit! The younger you have kids start with chores the more likely it is to become habit!
3. Be consistent. If you insist on having your child make the bed one day but not the next, you’re setting everyone up for disaster. Kids function best when they know the expectations. So make a chore plan and stick to it.
4. Chart their progress. Kids will love to keep track of their chores and responsibility and what better way to do it than with a chore chart? We love Melissa & Doug Chore Chart because of its bright colors and great quality.
Photo Credit: Our Three Peas
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Krista lives in New York with her husband, their 4 year old daughter and 1 year old son. She teaches English at a local college and loves to read, shop, and cook. She enjoys blogging about motherhood at The Quinntessential Mommy. You can contact her via email, twitter or visit her blog.