20 Chores Your Preschooler Should Be Doing is from Shannen of Middle Way Mom:
What is your big goal when it comes to raising your kids? Most of us won’t answer things like wanting your kids to be able to rattle off all the Presidents in chronological order, or that they can find the area of a circle without a calculator. We teach the core subjects for many great reasons, but what we really want for our kids is that they are competent and successful adults.
There are studies coming out that teaching kids school subjects earlier in life may not actually be beneficial, but you will never find evidence that teaching kids responsibility early in life has a negative side effect. An easy and effective way to build the foundation for a competent and successful adult is simply giving your young child chores and responsibilities in their every day life.
Some of these may be new ideas to you, and some may not, but what I want to drive home is the idea that if your preschooler has the ability to do something, let them do it!
How often? To what degree?
Children should be given ample time for exploring and imaginative play. Life is not simply a checklist of things to do. In our house, certain things are expected all the time, like putting your dishes on the counter after a meal. On the other hand, I don’t require my preschooler to help me make dinner or fold laundry if she doesn’t want to. As she gets older, more capable, and she is able to complete chores faster, she will have more daily chores that are expected.
I want to nurture my kids’ natural desire to help around the house, so I want to introduce things slowly, but that also means you start early. For instance, I have my two year old clean up spills she has made (I have a “turn” afterwards, too). Some things are non-negotiable, but others are when the child is willing and interested. It’s your call, but below are some things your preschool should be doing, at least part-time.
When I heard about the idea of a prepared environment from Montessori websites, it’s like a light bulb lit up. The idea is to make things in your home as easily accessible to a child, within their ability, so they can take on their own responsibilities.
There are step stools to help them get to the sink, hooks to hang their items at a height they can reach, their dishes are in cabinets they can access, and so on. This might mean some rearranging, but the ease of not needing to put up every jacket, get every dish, wash their hands every time is worth it!
This list is made far easier when you make items they need accessible by giving them a prepared environment.
Kitchen Tasks for Preschoolers
You want to make sure your little one is starting to learn the importance of a clean kitchen, especially to keep critters at bay. Being part of the process of kitchen work so they are comfortable with the kitchen and can help themselves as they get older is invaluable for both mom and kids.
- Help cook/prepare meals
- Wash table before/after meal
- Help set the table
- Pick up dirty dishes
- Start the dishwasher
- Help put away clean dishes
- Help put away groceries
Laundry Tasks for Preschoolers
A preschooler’s size keeps their laundry abilities to a minimum, but they are still capable of being a big helper. When they start putting away their own clothes, they might not be as neat and tidy as you’d like.
First, really assess if the number of wrinkles you’d save are worth your trouble. If it’s really bad, then give them items where it doesn’t matter if they are wrinkled, like pajamas or socks.
- Put dirty items in basket (picking up around the house as needed)
- Fold wash cloths and other small items
- Put away their own clothes
Preschoolers still need help with some personal hygiene, especially brushing their teeth. This is not an area where you can really hand it off to them quite yet. Still, it’s time to start handing the reigns over because before you know it, they aren’t going to want Mom’s help to wash up, and they need to know how to take care of themselves properly.
- Wash their own body in the bath
- Take their own turn brushing their teeth
- Get ready for the day on their own (wash face, brush hair, change clothes)
Preschoolers are perfectly capable to help pick up the day-to-day things. In our house, we have a couple “5 minute clean ups,” which just means picking up the stuff that’s not put away. There’s no actual cleaning, but rather removing clutter and items left about.
Often, the 5 minute clean up is too big a job for a preschooler to handle on their own, but it’s great practice to get them in the habit of seeing a relatively clean home a few times a day. If we were truly following Montessori methods, we’d pick up after ourselves, but with a toddler and infant in the house, the 5 minute clean up is more realistic right now.
- Clean up toys and books (with help)
- Put away own shoes and jacket
- Make bed
- Clean up spills (own, or helping with others)
- Water plants
- Clean windows/mirrors
- Help dust furniture
What else does your preschooler do? How do they help around the house?
Want to work on other life skills with your kids?
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