Age-Appropriate Chores for Children

Do you find it hard to homeschool and keep your home in order?

You may be struggling because you aren’t giving your children chores.

Why are you not giving your children chores?

Are you not giving your kids chores for any of these reasons?

  • You think they’re too young
  • It’s easier to do it yourself
  • You don’t have energy to train them
  • Your kids whine and complain when you give them chores
  • You want their childhood to be happy

The reality is that getting your kids to work is biblical – Lamentations 3:27 says, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.”

Chores are really good for kids and have so many benefits!

The bottom line is contribution – everyone helps out because everyone lives here.

Related: 12 Reasons to give your kids chores

What age should a child do chores?

You may think your children are too young but they are capable of handling much more than you think.

Even toddlers can help with the smallest chores, and if you start young, by the time your kids reach teenage years they will be able to handle most of what you can.

What are good work habits to instill?

Start early to build a good work ethic, focusing on doing the job well, cheerfully, and promptly (without constant reminding).

Work provides a great opportunity to instill character in your children, such as:

  • Self-motivation,
  • Integrity,
  • Determination,
  • Consistency,
  • Confidence,
  • Persistence,
  • Judgment
  • Time management

How to teach children a good work ethic

  • Start young. It’s easier to create good habits than to undo bad ones later.
  • Set the right example of doing a job well and on time.
  • Make it rewarding – teach your child to step back and take pride in what they have done. Don’t bribe your children to do chores – the reward is in the job itself.
  • Give healthy praise. Instead of telling them they’re the best dishwasher in the world, tell them how proud you are that they are being thorough and doing the job properly.
  • Teach the “fun after the work is done” principle. This allows relaxation to be the reward for completing a task instead of escaping the chore.
  • Work together as often as possible. Be a guide instead of a boss. A guide comes alongside and encourages, gives advice, and corrects. A boss gives orders and expects results.
  • Read inspiring stories or watch movies of hardworking people.
  • Assign chores and switch them weekly or monthly.
  • Don’t pay for routine responsibilities like making beds or washing dishes. Consider paying your kids for jobs that go beyond their normal chores to help them learn the value of money.
  • Don’t be nitpicky. It’s important to expect a high standard, but don’t be too picky and point out too many things that are wrong.

Related: Can you homeschool and work?

How to teach a child to do chores

Teaching kids to do chores is an ongoing process. You will not simply assign chores and then leave them to it.

Follow these steps:

  1. Show the child how to do the chore, explaining while you do it
  2. Do the chore together
  3. Let them do it alone while you supervise
  4. Let them do it alone and you check afterwards

Scaffold skills by starting with one step at a time and build on it.

Make chore time a routine in your household. This means your child will need less reminding to do their chores because there is a scheduled time to do them. For example, feed the pet every day before breakfast.

Use chore charts to help your younger children enjoy the visual reward of doing their chores.

Kids chore chart mockup

Use rewards other than money for work well done, but don’t make this standard practice.

  • Have special family time or movie night
  • Special time with one parent
  • Allow your child to stay up a little later
  • Make a list of things that will motivate your child and let them choose from it once in a while.

Related: How to teach your kids to work

Consequences for not doing chores

Part of training your kids to do chores is to follow through when they don’t do them. This may mean giving them consequences for shabby or neglected work.

  • Going to bed earlier
  • Less screen time
  • Not being able to do a special activity until the chores are done
  • Lose free time and do extra chores
  • Cause and effect – no clean clothes because they didn’t do the laundry

Chore list for kids

As you view this list of age appropriate chores, remember that each child develops at their own pace. Adjust the chores to your child’s abilities.

Just for clarification: there’s a difference between chores (an ongoing task that benefits the household) and life skills (an activity children should know how to do before they leave home, such as handling money.)

The following lists will incorporate both.

Related: 83 Things your kids should know before they leave home

Toddlers (age 2-3)

At this age you should work together with your child. Toddlers and pre-schoolers are usually quite eager to help you – take advantage of this and let your child work with you even if it slows you down.

Pick chores that won’t frustrate your child.

  • Put toys away with your supervision
  • Help make beds
  • Sweep with a mini broom
  • Dust furniture with you with their own duster
  • Take dirty clothes to the laundry basket
  • Help feed a pet
  • Help clean up spills and dirt
  • Wash fruit and vegetables
  • Peel a banana
  • Arrange flowers in a small vase
  • Load and unload washing machine and dryer
  • Sort laundry by colour

Preschoolers (age 4-5)

Try giving your pre-schooler chores that require a little bit of independence.

  • Get dressed with minimal help
  • Pick up their toys without your supervision
  • Make their bed with minimal help
  • Set and clear the table with supervision
  • Help prepare food
  • Help carry groceries and put them away
  • Match socks after washing, fold easy items like small towels
  • Be responsible for a pet’s food and water
  • Clean their room with supervision
  • Measure and mix ingredients while baking with you

Age 6-7

  • Make bed every day
  • Personal grooming – brush their own teeth and hair, shower themselves
  • Choose their clothes and dress themselves
  • Pet-care
  • Dust, vacuum, and mop individual rooms
  • Fold laundry with supervision
  • Put laundry away
  • Empty indoor trash
  • Answer the phone with supervision
  • Water plants
  • Collect trash from wastebaskets
  • Weed the garden
  • Rake leaves

Age 8-11

  • Personal hygiene
  • Keep room clean
  • Be responsible for homework
  • Be responsible for belongings
  • Wake up using an alarm
  • Wash dishes
  • Prepare easy meals on their own
  • Clean bathroom with supervision
  • Rake leaves
  • Put laundry away
  • Weed garden
  • Sweeping the kitchen floor/mopping
  • Read to younger siblings

Age 12-13

  • Take care of personal hygiene, belongings, and homework
  • Set alarm
  • Change bed sheets
  • Keep room tidy
  • Change light bulbs
  • Change vacuum bag/clean vacuum cleaner
  • Clean mirrors
  • Mow the lawn with supervision (our boys started younger – around 8 years old)
  • Prepare an occasional meal for the family
  • Wash the car

Age 14-15

  • Do assigned housework without prompting
  • Yard work
  • Prepare food for the whole family
  • Make a grocery list and buy the items
  • Wash windows
  • Care for younger siblings
  • Home maintenance – painting, plumbing, replacing broken windows

Age 16-18

  • All chores for age 14-15
  • Earn money
  • Buy their own clothes
  • Maintain a car they drive
  • Housework and yard work
  • Prepare family meals
  • Deep cleaning of household appliances like fridge and freezer

Assigning chores to your child fosters responsibility, boosts self-esteem, and makes them feel like they belong because they’re needed.

Chores also teach kids skills they’ll use throughout their lives.

Do your kids help with chores? How can you challenge them more?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer homeschooled all three of her kids-with no teaching qualification. Her kids are grown now but she is still passionate about homeschooling. She lives in South Africa.

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