If you’re getting worried that your child is too spoiled, one of the best ways to straighten them up is by teaching them to contribute to the household. Chore charts can be a great way to clearly state your expectations and maintain a chore system all year.
There are so many benefits to kids’ learning to do chores. Some parents have the false idea that expecting kids to do chores is like stealing their childhood. I’ve heard parents say, “They’ll have their whole adult lives to do chores; I’m going to let them be kids.”
I fundamentally disagree with the notion that a happy childhood and doing chores need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why teaching your children to do chores will make them happier and more stable throughout their lives.
Are chore charts bad?
No, chore charts are not bad. What’s bad is raising kids without a sense of work ethic or teamwork, or sending a child off to college without any life skills!
It’s also not fair to expect kids to pitch in without age-appropriate, clear expectations in place, which is where chore charts come into the picture. If you yell at your kids to clean their rooms every day, without teaching them your expectations for a clean room, that’s neither age-appropriate nor effective. Kids do best when the directions are clear, succinct, and posted in an easy-to-see location.
Why do chores matter?
Chores are important for child and teen development. Here’s what kids learn from doing chores:
- Life Skills – with an appropriate routine in place for chores, you’ll never send a kid off to college who can’t do their own laundry or make a healthy breakfast.
- Confidence – being able to do things independently may not always be fun, but it builds self-reliance, which fosters confidence.
- Sense of Purpose and Happiness – believe it or not, there’s evidence that chores increase kids’ sense of well-being, because they know their contributions to the household are important.
- Teamwork – kids can learn how to work together as a family to accomplish a larger goal
- Responsibility – it’s important that kids flex the responsibility muscle regularly.
- Humility – in our house, nobody’s too good or too special to pitch in, haha! Mama is not everyone’s personal servant.
- Gender Equity – when chores charts and expectations are implemented equally in a household with kids of both genders, they learn that contributing to the home is a responsibility for men and women.
How do you make an effective chore chart?
Some parents get a mental block about creating an effective chore chart because they worry about making it pretty. If you’d like to make some graphic organizers for your home, the free version of Canva is great! Just don’t get too bogged down in the design of it. The most important thing is that it functions well.
Other parents stop short of creating an effective chore chart, or they don’t have a realistic understanding of what kids can do. So many parents either under-estimate their kids over over-estimate them. Heck, I’m guilty of that sometimes, too!
You’ve also got to think about time constraints. If your evenings are already overly busy, you may want to limit the number of chores you expect them to do, and focus on tightening up your family routines. In other words, your chore chart may have things on it like, “Put lunchbox next to the sink after school.” It’s not a chore, but it DOES teach responsibility, smoothes out the wrinkles in your day, and gives kids the sense that they’re pitching in.
Be mindful of your other weekly commitments on the calendar. For example, if you’re at church until 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, you might have a single chore: make bed before school.
Choose daily expectations instead of weekly ones. A less mature kid won’t be able to budget their time across a whole week and will put everything off until Saturday. That’s setting them up to fail.
Tips for Setting Up a Chore Chart System
Now that you’ve chosen a chore chart or created your own, it’s time to think about how you’ll implement it.
Think about how it will refresh each week. Will you print a new one? Or will you store it in a plastic sleeve and use an Expo marker?
Begin by sitting down with your child and showing them their chore chart. Younger kids won’t intuitively know how to follow the process, and you’ll need to tell them WHEN their chores are supposed to be done. Perhaps two of the chores are supposed to be done before school, and some when they get home or before bedtime. Now’s the time to explain everything.
Kids learn best by doing, so now, you’ll have to teach them exactly how to accomplish each chore on their list, unless they already know how to meet the expectation. For example, if they’ve never made a bed before, you’ll have to do it with them several mornings in a row until they can meet an age-appropriate standard.
Remember not to be a perfectionist about chores. Of course, you want your child to do their best, but a bed that’s made by a child isn’t going to be as tidy as one made by an adult. Do not let perfect be the enemy of good. If your child is trying, be encouraging and praise their efforts.
Work in one week increments. Help your child accomplish their chores for the whole first week. At the end of the week, have a conversation with your child and reflect on what worked well and what failed.
Don’t expect to get your chore chart right on the first try. Consider making a newly updated chore chart for week 2. If you were overly ambitious, scale it back. If your child did great and could handle one more thing, add it for week 2. It’s normal to overestimate or underestimate a child’s ability, especially with chores. Some things that seem obvious to adults require a level of gross motor or fine motor skills that aren’t quite there yet. If you’ve expected WAY too much, adjust course. You don’t want them to feel defeated by your expectations.
Think about how you’ll enforce your system. What will you do if your child stops doing chores?
- Will you offer a consequence?
- Will you have weekly rewards for doing chores?
- Will there be an allowance to earn, or do we simply expect everyone in the house to pitch in?
- What about a two-tiered system, where you give kids the opportunity to earn money for extra tasks above and beyond their usual responsibilities?
Chore Charts by Age – Free, Editable, Printable PDFs!
Not all chore charts are right for every kid. Look through the ones below and select something that your children can use independently after a week or two of guided practice.
Chore Charts for Toddlers and Pre-K Kids
Toddlers are preschool kids need a chore chart with pictures rather than just words. After all, if you can’t read, you can’t follow a typical chore chart! It also needs to be something that is the exact same every day, because these little friends thrive on routines.
If you’re looking for a more traditional set of chores, you can find a visual chore chart for little bitty ones at Homeschool Creations. She has a free printable PDF for this age group.
Blank Chore Charts for 5-8 Year Olds
For kids in this age group, it’s important to keep things simple and fun, but you can also start to increase the difficulty level of some of your chores. Here are some ideas of things your 5-8 year olds can do:
- Clear the kitchen table and wipe it down
- Put laundry into drawers – and some can hang their clothes up!
- Learn about balanced meals and pack their own school lunch
- Make their own bed
- Feed pets
- Tidy their own rooms
- Gather household trash cans and put by the door
Below are some age-appropriate chore charts for this age group. Where you see large spaces, there will be space for you to edit it however you like – often with family member names or chore descriptions.
Chore Charts for 9-18 Year Olds
Now that you’ve got preteens and teenagers, you can start to really focus on what life skills your child will need to be successful outside your home. Here are some things that older kids can do:
- Mow and weed-eat the lawn
- Load and unload the dishwasher
- Sweep, vacuum, and mop
- Dust the home
- Clean toilets and wipe down bathroom surfaces
- Plan, prepare and cook one meal weekly for the family
Below are some age-appropriate chore charts for this age group. Where you see large spaces, there will be room for you to edit it however you like – often with family member names or chore descriptions.
Family Chore Charts – Free, Editable, Printable PDFs!
Family chore charts are a nice way to display all the chores for every family member in one spot. They often have less space for each individual, but it’s nice for everyone’s information to be in one spot.
Below are some age-appropriate chore charts for this age group. Where you see large spaces, there will be room for you to edit it however you like – often with family member names, your last name at the top, dates, or chore descriptions.
Chore Charts with Money or Rewards – Free, Editable, Printable PDFs!
You might consider rewards and incentives to motivate kids to complete chores. These chore charts include space for you to write down what your child is working toward earning.
Where you see large spaces, there will be room for you to edit it however you like – often with family member names, your last name at the top, dates, or chore descriptions.
Final Thoughts on Chore Charts
Chore charts can be a blessing or another failed and frustrating family experiment. The most important thing about using a chore chart is to teach it, practice the chores, and celebrate the great weeks together!
It’s not fair to expect kids to be intrinsically motivated to do chores. Remember – nobody LIKES chores, and it’s okay for your kids to drag their feet a little. Don’t be afraid to experiment with praise, small rewards, and consequences.