The following guest post on chores for preschoolers is courtesy of Maria Wells, www.housekeeping.org
Between the ages of three and five children are eager to help out with household chores. Being tasked with chores actually helps children to feel that they are a necessary part of the family, boosts self-esteem, and leaves them feeling more competent and capable than they would if they were not expected to perform any household duties. Establishing a chores routine at a young age also helps parents avoid the mutiny that is sure to accompany a chores regimen instituted when kids are older and less enthusiastic about helping.
In the interest of helping your children establish and maintain good habits in relation to work and helping others, here are ten chores that even preschoolers can do:
- Making Their Own Bed – Between the ages of three and five, kids aren’t likely to be the best bed-makers in the world, but they can certainly get the job done. Remember, the object of asking them to make their own bed is to establish the habit and ensure that it becomes part of their daily chores routine. When kids get older and their coordination improves, parents can offer instructions for how to do the job perfectly.
- Cleaning Up Their Rooms – Your child’s bedroom is her own space, so she should be as responsible as possible for ensuring that it’s maintained. During the preschool years she should be able to put her own toys away, place books back on a low bookshelf, and ensure that any cups or dishes are returned to the kitchen.
- Helping to Fold Laundry – Folding socks and t-shirts are simple enough tasks for a preschooler, though they aren’t likely to fold shirts like a retail pro would. As long as items aren’t wadded up and wrinkled, preschoolers should be encouraged to help their parents with the folding of simple laundry items. Towels are an ideal choice for practice, as they have no irregular edges.
- Putting Away Their Own Laundry – Clothing items that require hanging should probably still be handled by the taller members of the family, but a preschooler is more than capable of putting her own folded clothing in the appropriate drawer.
- Helping to Set the Table – Unbreakable dishes can be entrusted to a preschooler in order for them to set the table, though glasses and china for the adults might be safer in older, steadier hands. Helping to set the table for a family meal helps kids learn the practical skill of setting a table, but also allows them to feel like an integral part of the family meal ritual.
- Putting Dishes in the Dishwasher – Preschool-aged kids are able to carry their own dishes from the table, clear them, and put them in the dishwasher. Because dishwasher doors can be a bit heavy and unwieldy for little hands, adults should help by opening the door for them.
- Sweeping or Using a Handheld Vacuum Cleaner – Small, kid-sized brooms and dustpans can be found in most department stores and toy stores; with these tools, your preschooler will be able to help you sweep the floor much more easily than she could with a heavy, too-long adult model. Additionally, kids at this age can also usually manage a small, hand-held vacuum cleaner to clean up crumbs.
- Checking the Mail – Making a daily trip to the mailbox part of your preschooler’s routine is likely to be his favorite task of the day. However, it’s imperative that parents accompany young children, especially if there’s any danger at all of a child stepping into the street while attempting to access the mailbox. Checking the mail should be a chore that you perform together to ensure your little one’s safety.
- Watering Plants – A small watering can that your child is capable of managing creates the opportunity for her to help out with the watering of plants. At the older end of the preschool spectrum, it might be a good idea to introduce a small potted plant that is hers specifically. Remembering to water the plant regularly is essential to its survival, which helps kids understand the responsibility and care of living things that are dependent upon others for their survival.
- Caring for Family Pets – By the time your child is a preschooler, she should be able to feed and water the family dog or cat; feeding an exotic pet, like a snake, is almost certainly more than she can handle. Provided that you have a more traditional pet, however, your preschooler is more than capable of ensuring that it has food and water.
Kids at this age will still require supervision and the occasional assistance from an adult when doing chores, though it’s important for adults to wait until a child has asked before lending a hand.
Rather than swooping in and taking over, which leaves kids feeling as if they have failed and are incompetent, you should only help enough to make it possible for your child to continue and complete the task successfully.