As a mom, I thought that asking your children to help with chores around the house borders on child labor. I was wrong! Listening to other mommies sharing how peaceful their home environment has become after implementing a chores chart inspired me to try it.
I did some research and learned that as long as the chores you give to your kids are age-appropriate, there is nothing wrong with allocating to do’s. Kids aged five and six are capable of doing much more than you’d expect. These chores include;
- Bringing in the mail/newspaper
- Watering pot plants
- Unloading utensils from the dishwasher
- Washing plastic dishes
- Fixing a bowl of cereal
- Emptying their lunchbox
- Making their bed
- Wiping up spills
- Putting away toys
- Feeding pets
- Helping to set the table
- Helping with clearing the table
If like me, you have five or six-year-old children and you’re wondering whether or not to start introducing them to daily chores, we’ve got you covered. This article provides a list of age-appropriate chores and a better understanding of why it is a wonderful stepping stone in a child’s development.
Chores for 5 to 6 Year Olds
If there is one thing that I can assure you of about teaching young children about chores, it would be; it is worth the effort!
But let’s face it, thinking about giving our adorable little one work can seem a bit harsh, right? Wrong! Teaching children about responsibilities from a young age helps make their transition into tweens and eventually teens much easier and healthier.
Lots of parents feel their children are too little, or they take too long to complete chores, and when they do them, you have to redo them. Although it may be frustrating at first, it is vital not to expect perfection, and you need to be patient with them.
Practice makes perfect, so allow them to practice until they can do it right. The key is to start implementing chores as soon as they can help. The following chores are completely doable for 5-, to 6-year-olds;
Bringing in the Mail/Newspaper
If you live in a safe neighborhood and have a secure property, give your child the task of fetching the daily paper and bringing it inside the house.
Watering Pot Plants
Teach kids the importance of watering and looking after plants from an early age. Kids can hold a small watering can steady enough to water small pot plants in and around the house at five and six. This not only keeps the plants alive and healthy, but it also teaches kids to respect and look after nature.
Unloading Utensils from the Dishwasher
Plates, mugs, and glass dishes may be a bit too heavy for your little one to handle, but you can give them the task of packing away the utensils. This activity teaches them how to sort items and to be part of the kitchen environment.
Make sure you remove any sharp knives before they start and place the utensils in a place that is easily accessible to them.
Washing Plastic Dishes
Heavy, breakable dishes should not be left for toddlers to do; however, giving them the responsibility of washing all the plastic cups and bowls is ok. It teaches them to clean things properly, it is great for their motor skill development, and let’s face it, kids will love anything to do with water!
The kitchen sink may be too high for them, and it isn’t safe to let them stand on a chair. Instead, prep a low table for your children by placing a towel on the table and a plastic sink on the towel. Fill the buck hallway with warm water and allow them to add a drop of dish detergent.
Place another plastic sink next to the first one and fill it halfway with clean, warm water. Place a dish tray next to the plastic sink with the rinsing water to wash, rinse, pack, repeat.
Fixing a Bowl of Cereal
This may seem tedious, and it would be easier and less of a mess if you did it for them, but allowing children to fix themselves a bowl of cereal every morning encourages independence. It also forces them to concentrate and teaches them about ratios.
To prevent a big mess, prep the breakfast area for them in the evening to be ready for them in the morning. Make sure there are cereal, milk, sugar, and plastic or melamine bowls available for them to use.
Emptying their Lunchbox
Kids must learn from a young age that the first thing they do when they get home is empty their lunchbox. There is nothing worse than finding out on a Monday morning that Friday’s lunch leftovers have been in your kid’s schoolbag the whole weekend.
The bread crust has become moldy, the banana peels are dark brown, and a very unpleasant smell emits from the box. This is a very easy but very important daily chore that needs consistency.
Making their Bed
Children should be taught from a young age to make their beds before they leave the house. It kickstarts healthy habits and routines, and it gives them a sense of responsibility for their room.
This may take a lot of practice, but let them make their bed the way they are capable of making it. Remember to praise them even if it looks worse than it did when they started.
Wiping Up Spills
Even though this is a “when it happens” chore, it is still very important that children learn that if they spill and make a mess, they need to wipe it up afterward. Soon it will become second nature to them, and they will get annoyed with themselves when they spill.
Putting Away Toys
This is one of the most important ones by far! Kids play with toys daily, which means there will always be toys scattered all around if they don’t learn to pack their toys away after playing with them.
However, there are many different categories of toys, and you need to make it easy for them to keep organized. Have different bins for different things. For example, have different containers for;
- Soft toys
This will help keep their toys separated, and it will seem less intimidating for them to get started.
This is an easy and very important chore. Children usually love this task, and if you have more than one child, you may find that they will argue over who wants to do it. Make sure to add it to each child’s list to take turns instead of fighting.
This chore teaches children to have compassion for animals, and it makes them feel needed.
Helping to Set the Table
This is a fun chore for kids because they can either do it by themselves or share the task with their brother or sister.
Make a color theme chart for the week; for example, tonight, the theme is green, tomorrow night, the theme is red, etc. Have an easily accessible drawer filled with utensils and different colored serviettes for them to choose from.
Helping with Clearing the Table
Get your children to help you clear the table. Remove all the breakables from the table first and then tell them to do the rest.
Show them that the dirty serviettes go into the bin, the utensils go into the sink, the melamine dishes go on the counter next to the sink, and if there are any spills or crumbs on the table or the floor, they must wipe and sweep it up.
Sort Clothes into Hampers
To make things easy for the whole family, have three hampers; one for lights, one for darks and colors, and one for delicate items. At the end of each day, kids should pick up all clothing items lying on the floor and place them in the correct hamper.
You might have to rearrange the clothes initially, but they will get the hang of it eventually. The most important thing is that they pick up their clothes and put them in a hamper.
Teach your kids how to peel potatoes and carrots by adding a “help with dinner” chore to their chart. This is a great way to get the family together, and it makes them feel like they are important.
It is also a great activity for developing a child’s fine motor skills and concentration. It teaches them about food and what ingredients are used for, and kids are more likely to eat their food if they help to make it.
Help to Make Lunch for School
Allow your kids to make their own sandwiches. Let them spread the peanut butter and jelly the way they want. It is vital to remember not to correct them. They need to feel like they have done it right. Otherwise, they won’t want to do it again.
Benefits of Giving Children Chores
There are so many benefits to having chore charts for children, such as;
- They introduce kids to good habits.
- It teaches them about responsibility and follow through.
- It kickstarts a healthy work ethic.
- It teaches them that helping out is part of being a family.
- Chores decrease entitlement.
- It teaches them about consequences; the more they miss, the more they can clean and tidy up.
- Praising children during and after a task teaches them that good things come from hard work.
The Importance of Having Realistic Expectations
Asking your children to do a chore that you can do quickly and exactly how you want can make you think, what’s the point of asking them in the first place? This is where patience plays a big role. You need to forget about your OCD for a while and allow your little one to do the chore himself, even if it means you have to redo it later.
It is important to remember the following;
It Won’t Be Perfect
It is ok! Everything is going to be ok even if it isn’t perfect. They might even make a bigger mess while doing the chore, but remember, they are only kids. Don’t discredit their effort, no matter how bad the result is.
When you assign them to a chore, specify exactly what it is you want them to do. Instead of saying “clean your room,” be more specific by breaking it down into sections, for example;
- Pick up and pack away all the toys.
- Well done! Now, put your pillows back on the bed neatly.
- Good job! Now throw all your dirty clothes into the hamper.
- Great stuff! Now, pack all your books back onto the shelf.
Make sure to praise and encourage them as you go along. It will seem more fun than an actual chore if you have a motivating tone in your voice.
Show them How to Do it
You may know how to do the chore you ask them to do, but remember that this is new to them, so teach them the right way to do it. I asked my daughter to put away all her toys that were lying scattered in front of the TV.
When I passed her room, I saw she had just moved them from the floor in the TV room onto her bedroom floor.
The next time toys were lying in the same spot in front of the TV, I asked her to pack them away again, but this time I walked with her and showed her where the toys must go. She never left them on her bedroom floor again.
What if Your Child Doesn’t Do His Chores?
Many factors could contribute to your child’s reluctance to do a task. Children aged 5 to 6 have rather short attention spans, and you should ask yourself if your instruction might be too overwhelming for them? The following could be the reason they won’t do their chores;
Too Many Instructions at Once
If you bombard your kid with too many tasks at a time, the chances are good that he will get distracted or he will forget what you have asked him to do. Instead, break down the chores by allocating them on different days.
Failing to Demand Eye Contact
It is important to make sure that your child is looking you in the eye when telling them to do something. If you talk while your children are busy with something else, the chances are good that they will ignore you or be so engaged in their current task that they don’t even hear you speaking to them.
You can try saying, “Please look at me” or “Please leave that for a second and look at me.” When you instruct them to do a chore while looking into their eyes, they are more likely to pay attention and do the chore.
The Task is too Overwhelming
If the chore overwhelms them, they will get distracted or try to avoid doing it altogether. If the chore is picking up and packing away their toys, it may seem like a simple task to you.
However, if there are different kinds of toys like blocks, cars, books, puzzles, etc., they can become overwhelmed and may show resistance toward your request. Show them how to make piles of the same toys (sorting) and pack away pile for pile.
You could also prevent such a mess by limiting them to playing with one or two toys at a time and get them into the habit of packing it away immediately if they are done playing with it.
If you don’t let your children know that they are doing well, they won’t feel motivated to carry on going. Build a positive momentum by praising your kids while the chore is in progress.
Should You Pay Kids an Allowance for Doing Chores?
Many parenting experts advise against paying your children an allowance for doing everyday chores. They explain that chores are there to teach children how to help and be part of the family, teaching them about responsibility.
Also, keep in mind that little children of 5 and 6 years don’t understand money. Therefore, they won’t be as eager as you think to do their chores for money and won’t bother them if they don’t receive any.
However, it can be a great motivator for older kids who are saving up for a toy or a game they have their eye on. But only if they understand that chores aren’t things you can leave because you’ve made enough money; chores have to get done!
The only time you should actually give kids an allowance is if they go the extra mile and do extra chores that aren’t even on their list. Hard work must be rewarded.
Instead of micromanaging them, you can implement the “when then” technique. How this works is if you tell the child, “When you have completed your chores, then you may watch your favorite show.
How to Make a Chores Chart
Before you start, make a list of all the chores that you know your kids can handle. These must be chores that are necessary for keeping a household running smoothly. Allow them to choose the order in which they want to do their chores, and from there, you can go on and create their chores chart for the week.
- Make sure you place the chart where your child can always see it. This way, they can’t say that they didn’t do their chore because they didn’t know they had to do it.
- Make the chart colorful and fun. You can use fun stickers to indicate that the chore is done.
- Ease your children into the chores in the beginning. First, demonstrate how you would like them to do the chore, then help them do it. Then, allow them to do it by themselves while you supervise. And finally, let them do it all by themselves.
- Never correct a child while they are busy with a chore; only give them praise. Correcting a child makes them feel that they are failing, which plants a bad seed of low self-esteem. If you want to fix it, rather do it when the child is not looking. They will become better over time, so just be patient.
Chores Chart Ideas
Below are a few great chart layout ideas that you can use to get those chores going in a manageable manner;
Chores Chart 1
Laminate the chores chart above, and use a whiteboard marker to write a different chore next to each heart. When they complete a task, make a tick inside of the heart. If you have a laminated list, you can change the chores around every week or even add some new ones.
Chores Chart 2
Laminate the above chores chart and use a whiteboard marker to write your kid’s daily chores. Use gold star stickers for marking each chore as complete, or simply make a tick in each block after they have completed a task.
If they have a star or a tick in every single block for the week, you can reward them with something they like or want. This is a great way to motivate them never to skip any of their chores.
There is nothing wrong with setting out chores for your children. Chores introduce great morals and habits to kids, and it makes their lives easier too. They won’t be frustrated or anxious about not knowing how to do something when you are not around.
It gives them healthy self-esteem, and they learn to be independent at a very young age. So please don’t wait until they are older; start with small, simple tasks and allow them to work their way up the chores ladder gradually.
They may be resistant at first, but your kids will thank you one day!
Blue and Hazel: 15 Chores For 5 Year Olds That Are Actually Helpful
For Modern Kids: The Big List of Chores for 6-7 Year Olds (Indoor and Outdoor ideas!)