By Katie Trudeau
The glorious after-school hours are every kid’s favorite time of the day-- with the exception perhaps of recess. After-school time is about playing outside at the park on a crisp fall afternoon, riding bikes, shooting some hoops in the driveway, or playing a few video games. In a word: the after-school hours are fun.
So where do chores fit into the fun? Although chores aren’t nearly as fun as playing, chores are just as important. Chores help instill a sense of teamwork and self-esteem so it's important to teach your kids how (and why!) chores always have a place during the autumn bliss.
Chores go by many names: tasks, duties, jobs, responsibilities, etc. Whatever you choose to call chores is up to you, but all daily chores can teach the importance of self-care, the importance of learning, how to care for personal belongings, and how to increase a sense of responsibility.
Tip: Create a chart for each child and list their own specific chores and hang it where they can see it. Consider using a dry-erase board so you can reuse your chart each day. Because of after-school commitments, you might only have time for a few tasks each day. Label each day and assign which tasks you would like completed on each day. This sets reasonable expectations.
Chores that Teach the Importance of Self-Care
When you think about chores, you might think “sweeping” or “dusting” but self-care tasks should be taught each day -- especially during the school year when kids need to take care of their needs alone (i.e. washing their hands at school without Mom’s help). Children aren’t born with an innate sense to perform personal jobs (like brushing their hair) so it’s our job to teach them how to do these tasks. Starting the day with personal “chores” teaches your children the importance of self-care as well as how to get ready for the day.
Personal jobs include:
- Brushing teeth and flossing: Remember that the ADA suggests that you help until your child is about 7 or 8 years old.
- Brushing hair
- Washing face
- Getting dressed
- Making the bed
- Placing breakfast dishes in the sink or dishwasher
- Washing their hands when returning home from school
- Taking a bath/shower
Why these chores are important: These personal jobs/tasks reinforce the idea of self-care -- a skill that is important no matter what age you are.
Chores that Instill a Love of Learning
For children, play is the best way to learn! Through play, children learn social cues, they develop their fine and gross motor skills, and they improve their language development. Real play -- not passive activities like watching TV -- can help your children learn real life skills, improve physical development, and learn about the world. It’s important to encourage plenty of creative play. Play isn’t a reward for kids; play is a serious job.
Tip: Technology and games can, however, be a reward. Are your kids asking for tablets and TV? Consider posting a line about tech on your chore chart. For example, you can say, “Read for 30 minutes before earning 30 minutes TV.”
Tasks that instill a love of learning:
- Read for 30 minutes
- Play with STEM-based kits or toys
- Music -- singing or practicing an instrument
- Work on homework: make this a relaxing activity by playing classical music
Why learning tasks are important: Learning isn’t just something that happens in the school building. These tasks ensure that your child’s mind stays sharp -- even at home.
Chores that Instill Good Stewardship and How to Care for Material Belongings
Chores not only help keep the house clean, but chores can also help teach your children how to properly care for their material belongings.
- Help fold towels
- Help pick up yard toys
- Help pick up toys in the house
For older children:
- Sort dirty laundry
- Fold clean laundry
- Put away clothes
- Safely and properly stow bikes when not in use (to avoid damage by rain, etc)
- Sort laundry and start the washing and dryer
- Folding and putting away clothing
- Putting away electronics after using them
- Stowing outdoor gear (bikes or patio furniture) when not in use
- Washing outdoor furniture
Chores that Instill Responsibility
When you think about chores, you probably think about these household chores. Household chores are important because not only do they help divvy up the housework, these chores instill a sense of responsibility in children.
- Brush the dog
- Help refill pet dishes with water
- Help throw away garbage (e.g. small pieces of paper, etc)
- Help carry dirty clothes to the hamper (e.g. a shirt or small hand towel)
Tip: While toddlers probably can’t do these chores with perfection, the important thing to remember here is that you are laying the foundation for instilling good habits.
For older children:
- Water any indoor plants
- Help plant fall plants like mums
- Put away clothes
- Fold towels
- Empty dishwasher (make sure you put away any sharp items first!)
- Remove dead flowers from plants
- Feed and water the pets
- Mow the lawn
- Helping with fall landscaping projects
- Raking the yard
- Walk the dog
- Putting sunscreen on younger siblings
- Take the garbage or recycling out to the bins
- Clean the bathroom
- Clean out the fridge
- Wash and put away dishes
- Sweep, mop, or vacuum the floors
- Clean bedroom including vacuuming, washing windows, and organizing personal belongings
- Sweep out the garage floors
What about you?
Do you assign fall chores for your kids?
Kathryn is a self-proclaimed book nerd who has a passion for natural parenting and writing. As a homeschooling mother of two, Kathryn understands the dynamics of a busy family life. She is the founder of the Cor Domum movement, a mission that guides families through life so that they can parent with joy. Read more at www.katietrudeau.com
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