So you want to teach your children how to do chores, but you’re not sure how to go about it? Here are some ideas, from The 21st Century Kids’ Book of Chores, to help you out.
Ages At Which To Teach Chores
Everyone teaches their children how to do chores at different ages … and within those ages there is a big variety of maturity levels. Teach the chores at the level that’s appropriate for your children. For example, a 4-year-old may not be able to fold towels as intricately as you do. Come up with a simple way for now, and as they get older, you can teach them the way you really want them to do it.
There are many resources for figuring out what chores are appropriate to teach at which age. I’ve pinned some of these resources on the Tools For Godly Living page on Pinterest. http://www.pinterest.com/tools4gl/chores/ I do suggest that you take these lists and charts with a grain of salt. Children — and even families — have varying maturity levels. Something that’s not appropriate for one child at 4 may be completely appropriate for another at 2, depending on the maturity of the child, the perfectionist factor in the parents, time and family resources, etc.
Avoid the temptation to follow behind your child and redo their work to bring it up to your standard. They should be doing the best they can, and this is a great opportunity for you to practice accepting them as they are, just as God accepts us in our imperfection. If you can do this, you’ll help them understand how God loves us when we honor Him with our best, but He doesn’t expect us to be perfect.
Steps in Teaching a Chore
Before you teach a chore, do it yourself and think through every step. Break it down into the smallest steps possible. You don’t want to just say, “Pull the sheet up.” What exactly does it mean? Do you want them to tuck in the bottom first? Do you care how far up the top is pulled? Do you want them to smooth out the sheet after they pull it up? Do you want the sides of the sheet to hang over the sides of the bed? Don’t tell them too many steps at once. Show them how to do each step and make sure they understand by doing it, before moving onto the next step. Children who are 4 and older can usually handle 2-3 steps at a time, if they are simple. Children who are 6 or older may be able to handle more.
I’ve found that the best way to teach something like this is to take 4 steps:
- Do it in front of them. Make the bed yourself, explaining as you go.
- Have them do it with you. Make the bed, with them, helping them with any parts they have a problem with. You may need to do this a few times on subsequent days. It’s very important to be patient. Encourage their efforts.
- Have them do it in front of you. Have them make the bed by themselves, with you watching. Remind them of anything they’re forgetting. Praise them for doing a great job.
- Let them do it completely by themselves. Once they’ve mastered step 3 and are able to make their bed without any help from you, you can leave it for them to make their bed without supervision. You should check it before letting them check off the blank in their book or put a sticker on their chart. Once they’ve been doing the chore consistently, you’ll only have to check occasionally.
Give your children tons of positive reinforcement. Tell them how proud you are of them. Brag on them in their hearing. Post their achievements on Facebook — especially on the Tools for Godly Living page, as it will feel kind of like a club when they see other children’s accomplishments.
By the way, most kids really enjoy learning to do chores. After all, this means they’re a big kid! So don’t approach it as a dreaded task. This should be exciting and rewarding for your child! Make chore time fun. Put on some happy music and sing along while everyone does their chores. Put on a cheerful attitude yourself and your kiddoes will likely follow suit.
The above is an excerpt from The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores by Alyce-Kay Hanush. To order the book, see below. The book contains information about teaching chores, ideas for motivation, etc., but the bulk of the book is the program for kids, which is an organized system of learning new chores, practicing them, and constantly reviewing chores which are already learned, along with memory verses and mini Bible studies for building a solid work ethic. The 21st Century Kid’s Book of Chores is recommended for ages 4-10.