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Age appropriate chore list

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

chores for all ages

Giving kids chores is an important part of teaching them responsibility. But the chores that a preschooler can do are totally different than those that a middle schooler can do. So, why should your kid be doing chores and which ones are the right ones for them? Read on.

Tween girl vacuuming

Call them what you want: chores, responsibilities, rules, whatever. They are tasks that you pass onto your kids as their contributions to your household. But chores aren't just about taking the pressure off of mom and dad. They actually teach kids some important things.

"Having a chore or job around the house is a way to belong. When someone contributes, they matter. They are important. Doing chores nurtures self-esteem," says Susan Tordella, author of Raising Able: How Chores Cultivate Capable Confident Young People. "Doing chores will teach children good decision making. ... Chores help set that up because they learn self-discipline."

Are real moms actually having their kids help out? You bet! "My children, 7 and 2 help with varying 'chores,' though I don't quite bill them that way. It's just part of being in the family, everyone pitching in. At dinnertime, my oldest helps set the table and the little one follows along with cloth napkins and non-sharp utensils like spoons," says Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie's Kitchen.

So, how do you get your kids involved?

Preschoolers

Preschoolers and even toddlers are eager to help you out with whatever you are doing. Let them! "By participating in the activities of daily life, children understand how things work. For example, dinner doesn't start by sitting at the table - it starts by shopping for ingredients, planning a meal, carving out time to prepare the meal - and it ends when the dishes and kitchen are cleaned afterward," says mom Melinda Mallari.

What chores are good for preschoolers?

  • Put dirty clothes in clothes hamper
  • Put away toys
  • Help put groceries away
  • Replace paper towels and toilet
  • Put out napkins for dinner
  • Empty dishes into the garbage
  • Clean windows

Elementary-aged kids

As kids get a little older and more dexterious, they can take on additional responsibilities, as well as better understand why chores matter. "By knowing that a chore is that child's responsibility, the child learns that she contributes to the cleanliness and (dare I say it?) harmony of the household. A child will also learn that she is responsible for both the messes and disorganization that she makes as well as knowing that she has the power to have control over her environment by doing things when they need to be done -- and before they become monumentally large, more labor-intensive tasks," says Ellen Pober Rittberg, author of 35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will.

So, what other chores can your elementary school student do?

  • Clear the dinner table
  • Make their own bed
  • Clean their own room
  • Make breakfast (without using the stove)
  • Carry groceries inside
  • Sweep floors
  • Dust

Next page: Chores for tweens and teens >>

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