If the children in your household don’t regularly participate in household chores, you may be missing a golden opportunity to teach them about responsibility and teamwork. By participating in the care of a home, children also learn valuable basic life skills. Help kids learn to take pride in their work and their home by asking them to assist with simple chores like these:
1. Folding laundry
Even very young children can match socks and fold items like towels and dishcloths. Older children can master folding shirts, pants, and other garments as well as linens. Let children deliver piles of laundered, folded clothes to the owners’ rooms and teach them how to put away their laundry.
2. Setting the table
As soon as children can reach the table, they can learn how to set it properly for meals. To guide them, take a piece of paper the approximate size of a placemat and draw a plate, napkin, knife, fork, spoon, and drinking glass to indicate where everything goes. Children can also be responsible for clearing the dishes from the table after meals.
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3. Making beds
Younger children can learn to pull up their bedspread or comforter and position pillows on the bed when they get up. Older children can learn the finer points of tucking in corners, folding back sheets over blankets, and changing the linens. Duvets and comforters are often easier for children to manage than bedspreads or complicated pillow arrangements.
4. Tidying up toys
If you often find yourself nagging at children to pick up their toys, try a different approach. Make cleaning up a game by playing cheerful music, setting a timer, and declaring a race to see who can put away the most toys first. Give special privileges when children pick up their things without being asked to reinforce this desired behavior.
5. Pet care
Kids can be taught to fill water bowls and give the correct portions of food at designated meal times. They can also learn to brush and care for pets’ coats. Depending on where you live and their ages, children may also be responsible for walking and exercising dogs or for letting them out regularly when at home.
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6. Sorting recyclables
Caring for the environment is something that children learn very early in school and the media. You can reinforce that message by showing them how environmental stewardship starts at home. Set up a recycling center, and enlist your children’s help in making recycling a habit in your home. Kids can help with signage for the bins and with sorting items, and carrying them to the curb or your community’s recycling center.
Even if they can’t yet reach high places, children can dust tabletops, baseboards, and low shelves. Keep a variety of microfiber cloths and dusting tools within their reach to encourage their help.
8. Sweeping and vacuuming
Little kids can learn to sweep the kitchen, stairs, and hallways. Older children who know how to safely operate electrical plugs can use handheld and full-sized vacuums on floors and carpets. Be sure to teach them how to empty full canisters and safely stow cords when the job is finished.
It’s a good idea to include your kids in some of your home’s regular maintenance tasks, too. It’s never too early for children to learn about taking care of a home’s structure as well as systems and appliances. Let your kids watch you do things like change filters, clean refrigerator coils, seal cracks, and take care of preventive maintenance tasks. They’ll learn a lot by example, and you’ll enjoy spending time together.