For years I’ve talked about the importance of age appropriate chores for kids. It took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do it all and I needed my kids to pick up after themselves and help out.
After I realized that my kids were capable of doing chores at a very young age, I implemented daily and weekly chores in our home. Vital to our success was assigning age appropriate chores to each child.
Age Appropriate Chores for Kids
Reader Nikki asks….
Can you write posts about each age – what you have them do total? I am not naturally organized, so this would help me implement gradually.
Only you know what chores your child can do.
When it comes to chores, I’ve always believed it has more to do with ability than age. Some of my children were ready to use the stove at eight or nine. Others needed more time to mature. Only you know what your child is capable of doing when it comes to chores.
Remember to keep in mind your child’s age, ability, and maturity when assigning chores around the house. Most importantly, young children need supervision while doing age appropriate chores for two reasons.
First, you want to make sure they are learning the correct way to do each chore. Second you want to make sure they are not doing anything that could harm them or the house.
Finally, don’t mistake laziness for inability. I’ve found that the earlier you give your child age appropriate chores the more they can do at a younger age. Most children are very capable, you just need to motivate them.
I’m sharing with your our family’s chore list. Remember, because the two-year old can do the chores on the list doesn’t mean she does all the chores on the list. I use the list as a guide when it comes to assigning chores. Each child does one to two age appropriate chores each day depending on the size of the job.
Toddler Chores (ages 2 and 3)
Toddlers LOVE to help around the house. A mistake parents often make is to not let their littlest children help. At this age, kids don’t even think of it as work, it’s a reward! A child who gets in the habit of helping at such a young age will be more willing to help as they get older.
- Pick up/ put away toys
- Unload the dishwasher (silverware, plastic cups, tupperware)
- Dust with a feather duster or microfiber rag
- Swiffer the floor
- Put clothes in the dirty clothes hamper
- Collect dirty clothes
- Help get clothes from washer to dryer
- Put clothes away
- Make bed (put pillows and blankets on the bed, not bootcamp style)
- Wipe cabinets
- Wipe baseboards (soapy water)
Preschool Chores (ages 4-5)
Preschool children love charts and stickers. This is a great age to reward your children for helping with a sticker chart. Some preschoolers have better gross motor skills than others so just because one of your children could vacuum at age 5 doesn’t mean they all can.
- Any toddler chores
- Load the dishwasher
- Vacuum couch/ chairs/ cushions
- Take out recycling
- Set table
- Clear table
- Wash dishes (with supervision)
- Clean windows
- Wipe out bathroom sinks (baby wipes work great for this chore!)
- Match socks
- Fold dish towels
Early Elementary (ages 6-8)
At this age children are more likely to resist doing chores than at the earlier ages. We use to have a rule that there was no TV or video games until the jobs were done. This quickly motivated my elementary aged children to get their chores out of the way first.
- Any toddler and preschool chores
- Meal prep (wash produce, find ingredients, simple cutting with butter knife)
- Wipe bathroom sinks, counters, toilets
- Hang laundry
- Collect garbage
- Get mail
- Fold/hang laundry
- Clean microwave
- Rake leaves
If you haven’t implemented chores up until this point, you might be met with some resistance. Kids heading into the tween years might be upset that you are asking them to do more than they are use to doing.
This is when you need to remember that you are the parent and you are in charge. Kids are not harmed when they contribute to the household by helping.
If your child is involved in a lot of after school activities or has advanced classes limit weekly chores, but assign them several chores over the weekend.
- Any previous chores
- Make meals
- Take garbage/ recycling to the curb
- Wash/ dry clothes
- Clean toilets
- Mop floors
- Vacuum out cars
Middle School (12-14)
Middle schoolers are fun, aren’t they. Even kids who have been helping with chores for years can start to revolt during these years. Kids this age have a lot going on socially and personally. Even if your child is extremely busy (or moody) it’s important to give them some household responsibilities.
They will benefit and their significant other will thank you because they know how to clean a toilet and make a simple meal before they leave home.
- Clean tub/ shower
- Make full meals/ meal plan
- Clean out fridge/ freezer
- Mow yard
- Wash car
- Supervise younger children’s chores
High School (15-18)
Hopefully by the time children reach high school age they have the ability to do all age appropriate chores around the house. While they don’t do everything I know they are capable in all areas of home management.
My three adult children grew up regularly doing chores. While they may not love to do them, they are able to.
When to move a child to the next chore category
Ultimately, when a child becomes proficient at a chore it is time to pass that chore to a younger child. I take the lowest common denominator approach to chores in our house.
This means the youngest child who is able to do the chore gets the job. Remember to always supervise your child when they are learning how to complete a chore for the first time.
While our family isn’t perfect when it comes to chores, my kids are encouraged to work together to keep the house clean and organized.
My only regret is that I wish I would have given my kids age appropriate chores when they were younger. When I only had two young children it was easier to just do it all myself. Not anymore. Having kids that can help around the house keeps the house cleaner and frees up more time for fun activities as a family.
Finally, remember to keep it fun! Most little children WANT to help out around the house. Assigning small chores like the ones listed above allow your kids to feel like a contributing member of the family.
Put on some fun music, sing a favorite song (we use to sing the Clean Up song from Barney when my kids were younger) and work together to make it enjoyable for everyone in the family.
Ultimate Home Checklist (designed for adults but most of the chores can be done by kids)