If you have little ones around the home you might be wondering how to introduce them to chores. There are lists that go by age, but those don’t always work; some kids are capable of more than others at different ages. That is why this list tackles the idea of introducing chores in a different way: it’s a list of 22 chores according to ability, developmental readiness, interests, and any special needs. Organized by the type of chore.
Special Occasion Chores
These are the kinds of hosting jobs that don’t need to be done a certain way (or, honestly, at all), making them just right for the littlest helpers who may be impatiently awaiting guests. Just give them plenty of time and independence.
- Design place cards
- Make a centerpiece from pinecones, fruit, gourds, or branches
- Arrange flowers in a vase
- Organize a platter of cheese and crackers
- Set the table
These tasks tap into the truest passions of younger kids: the simple pleasures of water and dirt; the technological thrill of gadgets; the deep satisfactions of sorting and matching.
- Weed the garden
- Anything with water: Wash salad greens, scrub potatoes, give plants a drink, pour water into glasses from a small pitcher
- Sort silverware from the dishwasher
- Pair up clean socks
- Use tools or gadgets to pit cherries, slice eggs, or mash potatoes
As your kids get older, they can take on tougher tasks in the world of cooking, cleaning, and maintenance—tasks that might not be fun but provide a certain amount of satisfaction. At the very least, these chores offer kids tangible evidence of their efforts: a fed cat purrs, raked leaves become satisfying piles, a recently raw egg emerges from the pan ready to eat.
- Make a simple meal or snack
- Dust surfaces with a damp rag
- Sweep the floor
- Vacuum the carpet
- Fold clean T-shirts, dish towels, or washcloths
- Feed and brush pets
- Rake leaves
(Potentially) Dull Chores
These are the ones that must be done, recur incessantly, and aren’t inherently fun. Some kids might love them, so try not to presume the worst or tip your kid off that he should be unhappy. And make sure he feels good about it by saying: “Thank you so much” or “I appreciate your help.”
- Clear the table and load the dishwasher
- Dry dishes and, for older kids, wash them
- Use a sponge to wipe the counters, stovetop, and sink
- Take out the trash and sort the recycling
- Put toys away and tidy up a playspace
As a general rule of thumb you are encouraged to try even the chores you’re not sure the child is ready for; under proper supervision. See if they can’t surprise you.