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Age-Appropriate Chores

By Rachel Peachey

August 21, 2015 - 3:39 PM

Most parents agree that children should participate in doing some household chores.  Chores are not only important because housework gets done – but because they can improve a child’s confidence, independence, sense of responsibility and belonging to the family.  Young children can also gain important fine-motor skills from performing chores around the house.  This helps them when they begin school and learn to write and do other activities that require fine-motor control. 

However, how do parents decide what chores to ask their children to do?  Some parents underestimate their children and won’t let them perform some chores because they are “too hard” or they dismiss their child as being “too little” to help.  In both of these cases, the child may become spoiled or feel under-valued as a member of the family.  Other parents overestimate their children and expect them to be able to complete tasks that are too difficult for their developmental stage, or overwork their children.  Chores should be an enjoyable responsibility with reasonable expectations and patient guidance from the parents.  New chores should be presented to the child by the parent, showing by example how to complete the chore.  The child should then be allowed to practice the chore – and some mistakes should be expected and forgiven. 

Recently several guidelines of age-appropriate chores have been going around the internet.  A Montessori-inspired version is a particularly good one.  Montessori was famous for studying childhood development in a new way – a way that allowed her to discover the enormous potential in children.  She observed children and tried to provide activities and learning opportunities based on what she saw their interests were.  The results were three and four-year-olds writing and performing math operations and older elementary-aged children carrying out complex research projects and helping in their communities.  She noticed that young children from 3-6 years old enjoyed using real objects and performing real-life activities – what we might consider chores (and preferred this over playing with toys!). Throughout a child’s Montessori education, children take care of the classroom and school – performing activities from scrubbing tables, to sweeping, to preparing snack and lunch, to decorating. 

So, if you are a parent looking for inspiration in what might be appropriate and interesting chores for your child, take a look at the list below, and happy house-keeping!

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