As a parent, you want to teach your children responsibility and basic skills (and make sure they don’t wind up as the cliché college kid who can’t do laundry). However, you also want to introduce these lessons in safe and fun ways. Safety is especially pertinent when it comes to teaching children about cleaning as many cleaners are toxic and potentially unsafe. Here’s a guide to age appropriate chores to teach your children how to help out.
Toddlers are intrigued explorers of their family and the wider world. They’re interested in everything you do, so let them explore the world of cleaning with you, too! There are safe and simple chores for your toddler to enjoy such as putting away toys in their proper place, making their bed (or at least pulling the comforter out straight), dusting, and even wiping baseboards with warm soapy water. Being entrusted with tasks they don’t normally do will make your child feel like a big boy or girl.
Pre-schoolers are learning more about themselves and what they are capable of doing. This is the perfect time to start a small chore list. By doing their own chores and seeing a difference in their environment because of their actions, your children learn about self-efficacy. Chores for this age include setting the table (plasticware recommended!), helping to fold the towels, feeding the pets, or watering the plants. Summertime chores could include gardening and helping to plant flowers or seeds. These activities double as great ways to keep your child active.
Elementary School Children (5-10)
This is a large age range and of course there will be a big difference between what a first grader and a fifth grader can do. However, all ages can help around the house. Children in the middle and upper end of this age range can sweep and mop floors, help fold laundry, unload the dishwasher, take out the garbage, and even make simple meals.
Middle School Children (10-14)
Middle school children may be a little more difficult to con into helping around the house. Have a chore conversation with them and ask what they think would be a fair arrangement. Hopefully they will be more willing to help if they have a say in what they do. Children this age should clean up after themselves. They can also help prepare meals, mow the lawn, load and unload the dishwasher, load the washer and dryer, and much more.
Safety and Age Appropriate Chores
Your number one priority is making sure your children are safe, no matter what they’re doing. Introduce chemicals and cleaning products when your children are old enough to fully understand your explanation of the dangers. Understanding what’s safe and what’s not is just one benefit out of many when it comes to age appropriate chores and teaching your kids about house cleaning.