Age-appropriate chores for your little helperMonday, June 14, 2021
DEPENDING on where you are in the world, the list of chores your children will be expected to do will differ. But one thing is constant across all parenting styles — and it's that at some point, as parents teach their children responsibility, they will be assigned tasks in the home.
These can range from feeding the family pet to doing dishes and cleaning up their own space; but whatever they are, at the end of the experience it's expected that children would have learned some useful skills to help them in life.
But what specific chores are age appropriate for your little ones, that will impart the life skills you're hoping to teach, but not wear them down too much?
Dr Robert Myers, a United States-based clinical child and adolescent psychologist with more than 35 years experience working with children and adolescents, has compiled a downloadable Ultimate List of Age-Appropriate Chores, some of which we share for toddlers and pre-schoolers below.
Toddlers (Ages 2-3)
Even toddlers can complete simple tasks around the home. Starting children early can help ease any arguing about doing the chores as they become older and begin to test boundaries. Toddlers are also at an age where they find the idea of helping their parents, caretakers, or older siblings one of the most exciting things they could do.
This is thanks to toddlers being “copy-cats.” The primary way they learn about their world is through watching others do something, and then copying their actions.
It is important to note that toddlers will need supervision and guidance with their chores but can usually complete some tasks unsupervised by their pre-school years.
A few examples of chores that toddlers can do:
• Put their toys away
• Fill up a cat or dog's food bowl
• Place clothes in the hamper
• Dust or wipe walls
• Pile up books and magazines on shelves or tables
• Help make the beds
• Mop small areas with a dry mop.
Pre-schoolers (Ages 4-5)
Pre-schoolers still feel the same desire to help their parents, because they are still learning through copying their elders. At this age, there are even some chores children can do without supervision. Typically, these will be the ones they began doing while they were toddlers, although there might be one or two new tasks they are naturally talented at.
The reason for this increase in ability is that pre-schoolers have started to master the skills necessary to complete tasks unsupervised. Their hand-eye coordination will have increased, as will have their ability to follow more complex instructions. Whereas toddlers need to be told each individual step associated with a task, pre-schoolers may be able to remember and follow instructions up to two or three steps at a time.
In addition to the chores listed above, preschoolers can typically help:
• Make their bed without supervision
• Clear the table
• Pull weeds
• Use a hand-held vacuum for crumbs or room edges
• Water flowers
• Put away clean utensils
• Wash plastic dishes with supervision
• Assist an older sibling with setting the table
• Help bring in light groceries
• Sort laundry into whites and colours before wash
• Match socks together
• Dust with a cloth
• Care for an animal's food and water dishes.
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