assigning kids chores by age

Getting kids to help with cleaning isn't easy, especially in the beginning. Besides, how many chores can you reasonably expect them to do?

Brother and sister washing dishes.

I've found a good rule for divvying up the chores is to take his or her age, divide it by two, and round up when needed. 

For each child, this number should remain constant, regardless of the number of chores that need to be tackled in a given week. 

Although the number of chores may be small, many need to be done each day, and this is a great way to get your kids used to helping out. 

Be There the First Time Your Child Tackles a Task

You'll want to there the first time your child tackles a new task, regardless of age. Beginners need pointers for even the most straightforward jobs, such as washing dinner dishes by hand. 

What's second nature to us is a new experience for them. 

For example, you may have to explain which dishes should be washed first and why. You may need to show them how to stack the freshly washed items in the dryer rack, so they don't go crashing to the floor.

Divvying Up Kids Chores

Using this system, an 8-year-old with six siblings would have the same number of chores as an 8-year-old only child.

\The point is not just to get the work done; the point is to teach your children responsibility and get some work done. 

After all, if you have only one child, it hardly seems fair to saddle her all of your home's chores.

If chores are to be successful, they must be both fun and fair. And your supervision and enforcement must be consistent.

Here's an important caveat: By chores, I don't mean making the bed, clearing dishes from the table after a meal, or keeping your clothes on hangers and off the floor. Those are essential tasks that are done daily - period.

They are just a part of the routine of daily life, like brushing your teeth. I refer to them as "persons virtues' for which completion is reward enough. No cash or barter changes hands. Zilch. Nada.

These tasks are so ingrained in my two older children that I can't recall the last time I had to ask them to make their beds.

What I mean by "chores" are all those other cleaning and organizing tasks that contribute to our family's comfort and our home's overall tidiness.

These include jobs such as sweeping the floor, raking leaves, folding laundry, changing bed linens, and cleaning toilets.

Below are kids' chores that certain ages can generally complete. Your child may be capable of doing a task sooner or later, depending on her level of concentration, fine-motor skills, or maturity. (Get a room-by-room chores guide.)

Once a child reaches an individual skill or age level, he can generally do the kids chores for his age group and those for the age groups below.

Ages 2 and Under:

  • Get diaper
  • Put toys in bins or drawers
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper if the top is low enough
  • Turn off the TV if the button is within reach
  • Wipe feet before coming inside
  • Close cabinet doors
  • Help set the table
  • Turn on the dishwasher

Ages 3 to 5:

  • Previous chores, plus:

  • Pull comforter up over bed
  • Place dirty dishes on the kitchen counter
  • Put away toys and games and all their pieces in the proper boxes or bins
  • Return books to bookshelves
  • Dust low furniture

  • Sponge down the play table
  • Help unload the dishwasher
  • Water plants
  • Remove clothes from the dryer
  • Help fold laundry
  • Take clean, folded clothes to his or her room

Ages 6 to 9:

  • Previous chores, plus:
  • Make the bed
  • Feed pets
  • Exercise pets
  • Clean pets' bowls and cages
  • Put away groceries
  • Help make breakfast
  • Set and clear table
  • Do simple cooking tasks such as rinsing vegetables
  • Put dishes in the dishwasher
  • Wipe up spills
  • Help wash car
  • Tidy bedroom
  • Vacuum, with help, depending on the machine's height and weight
  • Sweep floors
  • Empty wastebaskets

  • Prepare recyclables for pickup
  • Fold simple laundry items
  • Match socks from dryer
  • Hang up towel
  • Do easy yard work such as weeding and pruning with small shears
  • Rake leaves

Ages 10 to 13:

  • Previous chores, plus:
  • Pour beverages for meals
  • Help hand-wash dishes
  • Do a surface cleaning of fridge
  • Change bed linens
  • Clean bedroom
  • Clean windows
  • Take trash containers to the curb
  • Help clean garage
  • Shovel snow
  • Make lunch for school
  • Unload dishwasher
  • Disinfect kitchen and bathroom countertops
  • Sort, wash, and fold laundry
  • Mop floors
  • Clean the shower
  • Clean blinds
  • Wipe clean the car's dashboard and upholstery

Ages 14 to 17:

  • Previous chores, plus:
  • Clean toilet, sinks, and tub
  • Organize closet
  • Prepare meals

Getting kids to do chores can be a challenge. Here are some easy ways to get the kids chores going in your home.

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