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Do your children help around the home?

Little girl washing up
Laying the table, washing up and tidying the house are just a few of a very long line of chores that we all have to do on a daily basis. All too often parents are doing it alone, but, as members of the household, should the children be expected to chip in too? Camilla Chafer investigates.

Few of us expect a child to complete a full school day, do their homework and then do an endless list of chores. However, many TheSchoolRun readers agree that encouraging their children to complete a few simple tasks is beneficial for the whole household.

Key life skills

Can you imagine not knowing how to wash and dry plates or cook a simple meal? No, and you probably want to equip your child with the life skills that they will eventually take to university and their first home.

TheSchoolRun forum member Trishikins says her son no longer sees his jobs around the house as chores but as part of daily life. She adds, “I think it's important he learns how to do these things and that he doesn't think they are "women’s work".

Learning to take responsibility

Children can learn responsibility for their possessions by helping to tidy their toys as soon as they are able to and many toddlers are fascinated with helping out at home. The key is to allow them to start as soon as they can, even if it takes longer to complete a task, so that household chores become a natural part of life and not just ‘those things that Mum and Dad do.’

We’ve pulled together some suggestions for simple tasks that your children can do.

Ages five to seven

At this age, simple tasks will help your child feel useful around the home, and to you, as well as encouraging the idea that everyone needs to participate in daily household life. Your child will learn the value of being responsible for their own things and will appreciate the effort it takes to keep their space tidy. Your child should be capable of tasks such as:

  • setting the table at mealtimes
  • keeping their room tidy
  • putting washing in to the laundry basket
  • tidying toys
  • sorting socks and folding towels
  • smoothing bedding and putting pillows in right place
  • light dusting

Age seven to 11

By taking responsibility for more difficult tasks, this age group will be learning valuable life skills that will carry them into adulthood, such as making their own food. If they receive pocket money, chores will help them understand the monetary value of doing a job and being paid for it. This age group should be capable of tasks such as:

  • clearing the table after mealtimes
  • putting clean clothing away
  • feeding and cleaning pets and pet areas such as tanks, cages or bedding
  • loading/emptying dishwasher
  • removing bedding and putting in laundry basket
  • gentle gardening tasks, such as wedding, under direction
  • making their own breakfast

How to help a reluctant child

Your child may be very unmotivated if they are not used to doing simple chores. A reward chart is a well recognised tool to help motivation. Award a star for each task completed and assign a small end goal that your child would appreciate, such as a magazine or a trip to the cinema.

By agreeing on a reward at the end of the week your child will understand that they have to do something in return for the reward they want, just like adults at work. It is important to be consistent so if your child does not help, they do not get the reward. 

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