Are you wanting to implement more chores into your kids’ time at home? Many parents today are looking for ways to teach their kids to be responsible, and chores are a great place to start. Here are some suggestions for chores – and how to introduce them – that can be done by elementary school-age kids.
You don’t have to pay your kid to make her bed, but psychologists agree that a reward system, or positive reinforcement, can go a long way toward motivating your child to do his or her chores. Rewards can take the form of privileges, such as television time, video games, time on the phone or internet, etc. Earning rewards for doing chores tends to work better than receiving punishment for not doing them, say psychologists.
What Chores Are Appropriate?
Elementary school spans Kindergarten to fifth grade. So, here are some ideas for those grades and ages. Of course, chores for younger kids will already be a part of the chore regimen by the time you get to older grades – the following lists of chores are intended to build on, not replace, each other.
Kindergarten (age 5-6)
This age tends to respond well to simple chores. You can also use this simple approach with older kids for whom this is a new concept. Some ideas include:
- Feeding pets
- Watering plants
First Grade (age 6-7)
- Sweeping the floor
- Emptying trash cans throughout the house into a garbage bag
- Washing bathroom or kitchen sink
Second and Third Grade (age 7-9)
- Vacuuming a small room
- Setting the table
- Clearing the table
- Loading dishwasher or washing/drying dishes
Fourth Grade (age 9-10)
- Taking out the garbage
- Walking the dog
- Making part of dinner (such as a salad or side dish)
- Washing the car
Fifth Grade (age 10-11)
- Making dinner
- Helping with laundry
- Vacuuming several rooms
Helping Them Out
To help your child get acclimated to the idea of chores, lists can help. If your child likes organization and takes satisfaction in completing tasks, lists with squares he can check off might help.
A competitive child might respond to timed chores. For example, time how long a certain chore takes him and then see if he can beat his time next time (while still doing a good job).
You can also elicit your child’s help in making a chart or list of chores and privileges, or just the chores. He or she can illustrate the list or decorate it with cut-outs from magazines. If your child participates in thinking up chores and creating the list, he might be more likely to be motivated to do the things on the list.