Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6 NIV
It’s our job as parents to help our children learn life skills. In fact, it’s imperative. In recent weeks I have stumbled into situations where there are many school age children who are unequipped and are not learning adequate life skills.
One of the ways we can help our children mature and gain confidence is to allow them to help around the house with daily tasks. To be most effective this actually starts in the preschool years with simple jobs, but can be expanded as a child grows and gains experience. Starting chores young makes it much easier to get them to do more substantial housework as they become capable.
You might be surprised at the chores a school age child can handle. If you can find tasks that they both enjoy and can do easily, it will make chore time much easier. Here are some good chores for young school age kids:
Setting and Clearing the Table
Kids are often eager to help at mealtime. Setting the table is a simple but important task that they can perform. You can make it easier by using placemats that have outlines of where the plate and utensils go. We have used this Melissa & Doug set and it has been very helpful. After the family eats, your child can help clear the table and even learn to put leftovers away.
Folding and Putting Away the Laundry
The laundry can be quite a chore. Enlisting the help of the kids to get it folded and put away can be a huge help to a busy mom. It’s usually unrealistic to expect a young school age child to fold an entire load of laundry on her own, but she could fold her own clothes and put them away. We have a simple set up in our laundry room with baskets for each child, which is helpful. She may not fold them as well as you or put them exactly where they belong, but there’s no need to make a big issue out of it. The important thing is that she is trying.
This is a very simple task that kids usually enjoy. Give your child a duster or a sock to wear on her hand and let her have a blast. If you’re worried about breakable items, move them all to a safe place before she begins.
Help with the Dishes
The dishes may go more slowly when you have a child helping, but things will get better once she has helped a few times and gotten the hang of it. If you have a dishwasher, your school age child can help with the loading and unloading. If you wash by hand, she could rinse and dry the dishes. Storing them in low cabinets will allow your child to put them up herself as well.
Kids usually prefer playing with their furry friends to assisting in their care, but having your child help with pet care is a great way to build her sense of responsibility. You could start small, having your child give the pet food and water. Once that is mastered, she could clean cages or litter boxes, and perhaps help with grooming if the pet is gentle and even-tempered enough.
If you need more ideas, be sure to check the different daily tasks in The Confident Mom Weekly Household Planner. You can easily delegate tasks there for different children by coloring coding the items!