“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
By: Gretchen Speer
For me a chore chart is not just about teaching kids how to help around the house, it’s also an opportunity to reward responsibility and iniative. I have been using chore charts for almost 5 years now and have never made the exact same one. The kids seem to really like the change up of different responsibilities and different kinds of rewards. You can make it in excel if you want it to be extra neat, but I like to make them using cardstock paper and sharpies.(I take any opportunity to use my sharpies!) Today I am going to give you 5 tips for getting started, then I’ll give you 5 sample chores for kids ages 4-8. I start my kids at age 4 so that’s why I’m starting there.
1) Consider age and personality. The most important thing to do before making a chart is to consider your childs age, ability, and personality. What are they really ready to take on? Will the responsibility of cleaning their whole room send them into melt down mode? For my kids it’s been interesting to see how their personality really comes into play. My older dd is naturally good at cleaning up and organizing. Since she was 4 she could make a twin size bed perfectly, you would think an adult did it. So, I knew she would be ready for more than my older ds was at 4.
2) Think outside the “chore” box. Like I said before I don’t see chore charts as something that should just be used for learning household chores, although mine certainly include those too. Consider using these charts to help your kids develope good habits. I have always put saying memory verses every day on my kids chore charts, and they are worth the most points too. For one of of the charts I did, I gave them a point for every verse they could say every day. I was shocked by how quickly they were able to memorize verses, and there were a few that I learned myself in the process!
3) Keep it Real. Real realistic that is. For the first few weeks this chore chart will most likely add work to your day rather than ease your load. If this is the first time you are doing something like this there will need to be some quality time of instruction and plenty of overseeing to make sure that your kids understand how to do their chores. I take the time to do this b/c they need to learn how to do it right. Toys, clothes, and who knows what else shoved under the bed doesn’t qualify as a clean room for us, and my kids know that because we have spent a lot of time going over how to clean their room.
Quick Tip: Post a list for them (and you) to refer to. Example for clean room: Make bed, put shoes in the closet, put dirty clothes in the hamper, put toys in the toy box. Even for kids that aren’t reading this can be helpful for you to at glance.
4) Encourage! Your kid may or may not be gifted in the neat and tidy department, either way be sure to praise their efforts often. I like to keep their chart where they can look at it and see how many checks or stickers they have gotten.
5) Decide on a reward system and stick to it. The best layed plans are a waste of our time if we don’t follow through with them. You will be shocked by how quickly your responsible, motivated child becomes discouraged and resistant if you consistantly forget to reward them. How frustrating would it be if our bosses forgot to pay us for our hard earned money! (I only say this because I, myself, am a little forgetful.)
Here are some ideas for chores. I usually pick 5-7 chores to put on my kids charts. We talk about which ones they need to do every day and which ones can be every couple days. I usually do a point system so that they earn a certain amount of points for each chore completed. That is usually a motivator!
Age 4: Keep it simple!
- Put dirty clothes in laundry basket
- Put toys in toy box
- Memory verse (something short)
- Help with laundry (They can pull it out of the dryer for you and scoot it into the living room. They can also fold small towells and washclothes, and help sort socks. Some kids are ready to learn how to fold bigger towells too.
- Sweep up the crumbies after dinner
Age 5: Add a little more detail.
- Straiten Bed (They may not be ready to fully make their bed yet. For this chore you can show them how to pull the blankets and sheets up while they are still in the bed. They can also straiten their stuffed animals, and clear off anything else that doesn’t belong there.)
- Memory Verse (Make it a little more challenging. We usually will try to do 1 every week for a while and then have a time where we just review all the ones they have learned.)
- Laundry Chore (Have them take their dirty to the laundry room and sort it. I also give my 5 year old a basket of towells to fold a couple times a week.)
- Bathroom Chore (Put everything on the counter away, shake out the rugs and put them back where they go.)
- Homework(If your kids are in school then you will probably have homework for them to do once or twice a week. If not, this is the time for mommy school! Give them handwriting to work on or a worksheet out of a kindergarten work book. The sooner they learn how to do focus on school work at home the better!)
Age 6: Ready for some responsibility!
- Bathroom Chore (The same as listed above, but add emptying the trash and wiping down the counter with a wipe-I keep these things everywhere!)
- Laundry Chore (The same as above, but add puting away their clean clothes too. I usually leave stacks for them to put away-play clothes, underwear, socks. I do still hang up their nicer clothes though, since they aren’t quite tall enough to do that yet:)
- Memory Verse
- Dust(They can use a swiffer duster or just put a sock on their hand. I like to set a timer for 15 minutes and give them specific areas to work on. Walmart has a great little tool for cleaning shutters and shades, and that is usually what I have my kids work on.)
- Wiping down walls and baseboards (They are shorter so it doesn’t seem to be such a big job for them. I do the same thing as with the dusting-set the timer and have them work on a specific area.)
- Set the table (My son like this because he likes to get the inside school on what we are having for dinner. Hang a checklist for your kids so they can make sure to put out everything that will be needed)
- Homework(By this age they probably have homework a few time a week anyway. On the days they don’t I like to have them read or work something they might be struggling with in school. I award points for time spent doing homework whether it’s for school or just for home though)
- Memory Verse (I list this everytime because it’s top priority for my chore charts)
- Clean out the Car (Send them out with 2 wal-mart sacks. One for trash, and one for stuff that needs to come inside. They will most likely have to make several trips. Make sure to check their trash sack before they throw it away!)
- Helpfulness (When I put this on the chart I just let my kids know that I will give them points when they go above and beyond their duties. My kids are really helpful, so that I thought this would be a good way to show them that I appreciate it)
- Clear the table after dinner(I have my kids put the dishes by the sink, the napkins in the dirty clothes, and then put the dressings and condiments in the refridgerator)
- Pick sticks and trash up out of the yard (Send them out with a wal-mart sack. They may end up needing a few!)
- Reading (It’s just such an important thing, so I put it on our charts a lot. This is also a chore that I will let them do more that once a day-earning twice the points. Outloud Reading is also a good thing to do. Sometimes my son will read to me while I’m cooking dinner.)
- Wash the dishes(Start out with a few non breakable dishes and go from there. It seems easier to teach this in steps-wash, rinse, put in drainer.)
- Quiet Time (I’m excited about this one. My son asked Jesus into his heart a couple years ago, and we have been doing a lot of memory verses since then. Now, we are going to start walking him though how to spend time with God though prayer and reading the Word on his own. It may seem odd for it to be on a chore chart, but I’m trying to help him make it a daily habit. The chore chart will serve as a reminder,and a positive reinforcement.)
Quick Tip: I add bonus chores sometimes. These are usually worth a lot of extra points, but can only be done if all their other chores have been completed.
Like I said before, all kids are different. These are just examples of what have worked for my kids at these ages.