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As Head of School at Stevens Cooperative, recently families have asked me my thoughts on if, when, what and how they should give household chores to their child(ren). My answer is yes! Household chores are a great way to teach responsibility, collaboration and how families care for one another and their homes. It also gives families an opportunity to have discussions about values and what's important to them. An added perk is describing stories about how things were when "we grew up"!
WHEN: This depends on a child's developmental readiness and the parent's ability to follow-up and set consistent expectations. A 1st grader needs reminders to water the plants or set the table. If the chore does not require consistency and following through, it will not be taken seriously.
WHAT: Examples of chores that cover the age ranges of 5-14 include but are not limited to watering plants, setting or cleaning up the dinner table, throwing out garbage, making one's bed, cleaning up toys, doing any part of the laundry, re-organizing a part of the house, getting and sorting the mail, sweeping a room, vacuuming, feeding/walking a pet and helping prepare a meal.
HOW: Be proactive, not reactive. Responding in the moment to a messy household will accomplish less than proactively finding a family time to discuss the importance of helping in the home. Giving a child choices is a great way to empower them and build buy-in. For younger ones, start with one thing, and build up. It may be helpful to parallel a number grade with the amount of chores in a week, for example, 1st graders have one chore, 2nd graders have two chores, etc.
At Stevens Cooperative School, all of our students have jobs, and we all work together to make sure that we take care of each other, our school and ourselves. Having jobs and community roles are an essential teaching opportunity, both in school and at home!