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Chores Are Learning Opportunities

By Renee Mosiman, M.A. and Mike Mosiman

The Smarter Preschooler!As most parents know, assigning a youngster his or her own chores can help develop initiative, responsibility, discipline, and a sense of accomplishment. In the long term, these character traits become engrained so as an adult they are carried into other aspects of his or her life. 

But chores can also help develop memory, planning skills, sequential thinking and classification abilities in young children. A child learns to remember that the garbage needs to be taken out on a certain day or that the cat has to be fed every morning. Planning skills are developed when the child must plan out when the chores are done during the day and sequential thinking is enhanced when a child must remember the order of setting the table or the order of ingredients in a recipe. Classification skills are developed when a child sorts the laundry by color or puts toys away by sorting by type and putting in bins. 

Make sure the chores are appropriate for the age and maturity of each child. And while some younger children may need some guidance, it is important that every member has a chore. 

Here are some examples of chores for preschoolers and early elementary aged children.

  • Pick up toys
  • Put clothes in hamper
  • Sort laundry
  • Feed pet
  • Set napkins progressing to entire table as child gets older
  • Clear table
  • Dump small bathroom waste basket into larger basket
  • Make bed
  • Bring in groceries
  • Water plants 

As the child gets older, you can add any other chores that are appropriate for you child and the environment that you live in. They may include

  • Dusting
  • Filling the dishwasher
  • Sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming
  • Washing the car
  • Making own breakfast or lunch without the use of the stove
  • Yard work such as raking
  • Snow shoveling

Parents and experts have different opinions of how to motivate a child to do his or her chores. Some families may discipline if a child fails to perform his or her assigned chores. We have been successful with positive reinforcement.

If our children do the chores for the day they get to do an activity that they enjoy such a playing a board game or playing outside. Sometimes we make put a list of each chore that needs to be done on a piece of paper and put them into a basket then each family member draws the chore that he or she will be responsible to do. Other families use a reward chart with stickers or money as reward. Like in many instances, it is up to the parents to discover what best motivates their children.

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