Do you know that basic life skills are the number one struggle for college kids of the current generation? Kids are going to college unsure of how to wash loads of laundry, cook a basic meal, or keep a room clean enough to pass inspection. If your children are still at home, now is the time to build life skills that are essential for adulting. We’ve put together a fantastic list of chores for kids, ages 3-12!
Take your household chore lists (everything that needs to get done in a given week), organize the lists by age grouping, and make assignments for each family member, youngest to oldest. Yes, even including Mom and Dad. Children learn by watching their parents, so you absolutely have to participate in the work of the household. But when it comes to having the skills they need, nothing can replace practical hands-on training. Seeing mom and dad do chores will be one of the reasons “why” they do chores (when they get older and leave home) but the practical hands-on training will give your kids the “how” – the skills they need to get the job done.
Simple Chores for 3-4-year-olds:
Yes, that’s right, kids can start doing simple, basic chores as early as age three. Kids at these younger ages LOVE to help, love to be a part of the team because they love to be rewarded with your beaming smile and praise. It’s a great time to introduce age-appropriate chores for kids because it will help set their attitude towards work for the rest of their lives. These little ones will also love the visual appeal of chore charts like these.
- put toys away
- get shoes on by himself
- put clothes in the hamper
- take clothes to dresser or closet
- help brush teeth
- clean up after mealtime
- match socks
- help make beds
TIP: Get one of those a chargeable super lightweight cordless stick vacuum like our favorite Cordless Dyson Stick Vacuum or a Cordless Shark. They are so fun to push around! Of course, they get better at sweeping as they get older, but it can never hurt to have them make a few passes around a room.
Awesome Chores for 5-6-year-olds:
Each family’s chores will be different, but some chores are universal and are a great way to help prepare kids for adulthood. Learning how to put toys away as a toddler can grow into learning how to properly care for a car as a teenager. Basic family chores teach kids to take pride in work, work together as a team, and practice responsibility. Also, as your child gets a little older, of course, the chores will get more complex and require more dexterity. A five-year-old can do more than he could to be actually helpful than he could when he as three.
- wash hands (while counting to 20 or singing the ABC song)
- set the table
- put dishes away
- clean up after mealtimes
- brush teeth
- make lunch
- set the table
- help with laundry
- dress self
- use the bathroom
- water flowers
- feed pets (with supervision)
- check the mail
TIP: When my daughter was this age and struggling with developmental delays and low muscle tone, our occupational therapist actually directed us to have this child help carry laundry baskets of clothing and grocery bags in from the car. Children nead “heavy” work to build muscles. I had no idea! She seemed so little and struggled so much, but we were acutally making things worse by “accomodating” her special needs.
Don’t be afraid to let your child try something that seems just a little too hard. If it is too hard, he or she can try again later! If it turns out to be within reach, your child is going to very proud of herself for that extra accomplishment!
Fun Chores for 7-8-year-olds:
When our family needs to get a whole house cleaning done on what we call “work days” or “cleaning day” – we like to use the sticky note method for cleaning with kids or for quick pick-ups of strewn possessions The Jelly Bean Clean. Both are highly motivating and allow us to move through a massive amount of work in a short amount of time. But for daily maintenance chores, it’s nice to have a chore list or chore chart. By the time kids are reading well at age seven or eight, they can work their way down a list of chores without nearly as much help and the type of chore this child can do is increasing in difficulty again.
- empty dishwasher
- clean appliance fronts
- sweep and vacuum
- take out trash
- clean under the bed
- feed and water pets
- load the dishwasher
- wipe windows
Challenging Chores for 9-10-year-olds:
As kids enter the awkward transition years called the “tweens” they really crave and need to achieve goals that build self-esteem. They need to experience success, and yes – they need to work hard and feel the internal reward of a job well done. This sets them up for a lifetime of self-driven accomplishment or “grit”. So, this is an age where you still have a ton of influence as the parent – make sure you use that and set the bar with household chores. It’s a great age to have your boys read Created for Work by Bob Schultz.
- weed flowers/garden
- clean bathrooms (they may need help with certain chemicals)
- sweep steps
- load washing machine
- move washed clothing to the dryer
- fold clothing
- organize toys
- take out recyclables
It is our firm belief that kids should participate in chores around your home for as long as you are supporting the child financially. Chores don’t stop at age twelve, as our chart might imply. Instead, by age 12 or so your child should be able to take over and adequately accomplish almost any household chore even making basic meals. You might occasionally find chores come up for which your child has not been trained, but the training process for older kids will be fast if they’ve grown up doing chores and building skills.
More Complicated Chores for 11-12-year-olds:
- mop floors (We love the Primo-100 by Vapamore. It is fantastic!)
- organize cabinets
- make simple meals (Pinterest is a great resource for finding easy, budget-friendly meals)
- car clean up (with six kids, our car needs a lot of clean-up, so this is an extra chore – meaning whoever does this job gets paid cold hard cash. Having a list of extra chores for which your older child can earn money is a great way to introduce the concept of working for pay and allows you to outsource jobs that might not otherwise get done.
- clean out the fridge (clean up spills, get rid of old/moldy food, etc.)
- help with grocery lists (and budgeting, if need be)
- wash windows
- iron clothes
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