Last year, Mary and I read a book based on the true story of an eight year old girl who went along with her father into new territory to build a house in colonial days. The trip lasted months, during which the little girl prepared meals over an open fire. The Courage of Sarah Noble was a great chapter book to read aloud.
While I have no desire to send my kids out into the wilderness or to equip them with fire ;), I do think that children are quite capable of amazing things. In all of our desire to provide for our children and to keep them safe, I must wonder…
Are we cheating our kids by not expecting them to do chores and pull their weight at home? Do we excuse our children from helping out because they are too little or the job is easier if we just do it ourselves? Are our kids too busy attending lessons and practices to learn basic household skills?
I am glad my kids do not have to help around the house in order for us to survive, as children in days gone by may have. Still, I know that doing chores is vital to a child’s development. I want my children to know the value and satisfaction of a job well done. I want my children to be equipped to care for themselves when adulthood arrives. I want my children to be a vital and important part of the family.
Each age groups is different, but at about 18 months of age a little one should be able to help clean up toys with a little encouragement and guidance. It’s so much fun to throw toys into the box! They should also be able to help wipe up small spills and take their clothes to the hamper.
At ages two and three, kids begin to gain much ability around the house. This is a great time to get them helping in the kitchen. Kids in this age group make great pancake stirrers. They also are perfect for setting the napkins on the table and picking up the dropped Cheerios under the table. Kids at this age can also help retrieve things like diapers and sippy cups for their younger sibling.
By ages four and five, children can do so many great things. One of my five year olds favorite things to do is help plant the seeds in the garden and pick the produce. He also spent much of the summer feeding the calf a bottle and helping to care for our chickens. His least favorite job is taking out the compost, but we have made it an adventure that he gets to go on by being on the lookout for bugs and animals along the way. Children this age are old enough to set the table by themselves. They are also great sock matchers! Kids this age can begin to help measure ingredients in the kitchen. They can also put away their own clothing.
At six and seven, a child is old enough to entertain a younger sibling in another room while you finish supper. They are capable helpers in weeding flower beds, folding towels, and getting clothes off the line (if they can reach, Mary is tall!). Kids this age can put away the food after supper and scrape and stack the plates. They can load the dishwasher with a little help and training. Children this age can do some of the bathroom cleaning jobs (if you provide a simple vinegar water solution and a cloth it is very safe for them to clean the mirrors, counter and sink). Kids this age should be able to keep their rooms pretty clean without much help from adults.
We’ll have to wait for the rest of the list, as this is as far as my children’s ages have allowed me to progress. But needless to say, the jobs they can do well will increase with each year. I hope that all of my children will have enough skill and knowledge that they could do anything that must be done around the house by age 16, including changing the car’s oil (and even I don’t know how to do that).
I’m pretty sure it’s a good thing, this teaching our kids and making them do chores. So I’m wondering, what kind of chores do your kiddos do? What do you think about making kids do chores around home? How much is too much? How do you motivate your kids to help? Looking forward to hearing from you!