Friday, August 07, 2009

Q&A: Chores Again

I got a few follow up questions about chores.

From Kim:
Did you make the tickets?
Yes, I did; I made them in Photoshop with some basic frames and money backgrounds and then printed them on photo paper. I also made tickets that are worth 5 and 10 tickets since we quickly used up all our single tickets. I think anything would work, though; I've even heard of people using monopoly money for this type of chore system.

From Crystal:
How early did you start having your kids help?
I don't have formal chores with my kids until around age 4 or 5, depending on the child and what else is going on. We have family work day every Saturday where we clean the whole house, and the younger kids help a little here and there as they are able. This Saturday time, when both DH and I are working with the kids, usually on cleaning the house as well as some bigger projects or maintenance, is our time to model and teach how to do the work.

Like most moms, I also encourage any and all "helping" from the little ones, from picking up the bath toys when we are done to carrying in the groceries from the car. Here's a quick age by age guide of what we try to do -- keep in mind that these are rough guidelines and there is a lot of overlap:

Ages 18 months - 3 years: This is a great age to let your little ones know how much you love to have their help. Let them pick up toys and put them back in the bins or stand nearby while you're cooking, handing you eggs or rolling cookie dough into balls. I know some families are really good at having their child pick up one set of toys before getting out another, but we're not. We usually clean up the toys once a day or several times a week. Working with your child works best at this age (and at any of the other ages as well, but this is the age where constant supervision is the norm).

3 to 4 years: More can be expected of this age, and it's a great age to start teaching them basic organization skills, such as where the toys go, what to do with their dirty clothes, etc. As soon as my kids are able, I expect them to pick out their own clothes and dress themselves. This is also a good age for them to learn how to brush their own teeth and to clean their own room, with some help. They can also get their own cereal.

4 to 6 years: This is when some independence can start to be expected. My kids start cleaning their own room, picking up the family room, or cleaning up the mud room at this age. Emptying the dishwasher or setting the table are great tasks to give kids this age. Other chores can be done on a shadow basis, including cleaning bathrooms, and helping organize. Allison still talks sometimes about the day she helped me sort all the lids in the kitchen. She did a great job and was so proud of the herself. Keep in mind your own circumstances and the personalities of your kids, however. Encourage and model and work with your kids at this age, but don't push them so hard that work becomes a daily battle -- trust me, there will be plenty of years for battles, so just be patient and reasonable. Lillian has always been naturally organized and seems to know instinctively where things go and when something's out of place. Some of my other kids just don't have that internal sense of order and it's taken a lot of years and a lot of effort for them to understand what goes into even basic tasks like cleaning the family room (i. e. "Yes, you do need to put the dirty socks away, too." or "didn't you notice all the papers halfway under the couch?"). Joey has always been very mechanically minded and he started helping DH work in his woodshop when he was just two years old and by this age was wonderful. He would sit quietly and intently focused, ready to hand his dad the screws he needed every few moments. That capacity has continued even as he's aged, while we've found that most of the other kids are just not able to focus in the same way.

6 to 8 years: This is when daily chores, filling out charts, and independence can be given. Kids can be taught to take pride in a job well done and be expected to take responsibility for their own specific tasks. This is still a bit of a practice stage, and a lot of follow-up and reminders will most likely be needed.

8 to 10 years: This is a wonderful age where responsibility is a matter of course and less reminders should be needed. I've also found that around age 8, kids are able to take a more significant role in doing the dishes and can even clean the kitchen independently, though at our house the job is so big, we usually break it up, work with our kids, or have several of them work on it together. I only have two kids in this age group, though, so I'm still figuring out what works and what doesn't. During the summer, I expect more than during the school year, when I'm concerned about balancing school, homework, playtime, activities, and chores.

10 years plus: Who knows? I'll let you know here in a few years!

Anyone else have suggestions or ideas about working and chores?


Jed & Allison said...

I have a question for you, but it doesn't have to do with the current topic. Do your kids fight a lot? I only have two and they fight all of the time! What do you to prevent/fix this problem?

The Walker Family said...

Thanks that will help a lot!

K said...

I've had my kids putting their own dishes in the sink since they could toddle over from the high chair. I loved watching them old their bowl over their head and push it into the sink---and they always seemed to feel a lot of accomplishment from helping.


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