Our house is already showing signs of winter.  Boots are beginning to pile up in the entryway that was lined by flip flops last month!   That’s why November is the perfect time to take inventory on household chores, and make sure all members of the family are dividing up the work.  Remember, your child is a year older than they were last year, and can handle more responsibility.    

Although kids often complain about chores, children who are expected to perform regular household chores are happier than those who do not.  Additionally, they have an increase in grit scores (persistence).

Learning habits take firm root in children by 3rd grade, so it’s helpful for parents to know what chores are age appropriate.  Use these guides (also available in the book The Learning Habit) to keep yourself and your child on the right track to self-sufficiency.  Remember, you’re building grit!

Pre-school:

This is when parents introduce the concept of shared responsibility for self and home maintenance. At this early age, it’s a game to them; “First we put our toys away, then we have our (supper, snack, bath).” When teaching children a new skill, for instance, making the bed, use praise for effort.

  • Pick-up their toys
  • Choose an outfit (give children limited choice at this age)
  • Help clear the table
  • Brush their teeth
  • Learn to set the table
  • Learn to dust
  • Start to make their beds.
  • Feed pets

Kindergarten (5-6-7 years):

Don’t criticize or redo chores they have not done to your expectations.  This is a process; they will continue to work at work tucking in the corners of sheets.

  • Lay out clothes the night before 
  • Set table
  • Clear the table after meals
  • Sort their dirty laundry (whites and colors)
  • Pick up toys at regularly scheduled time
  • Unload back-pack
  • Dump contents of lunch bag (Stinky!)
  • Choose items for their lunch
  • Dress themselves (help for buttons and tying shoes at 5 & 6)

1st grade (6-7-8 years):

This is the year it is really important that children start to learn by trial and error! 

  • Set out clothes the night before. They choose (no fashion or weather police, please!)
  • Can get dressed fully on their own
  • Make their bed neatly
  • Fully ready for school before breakfast
  • Take out the garbage
  • Sort the re-cycling
  • Dust a room once a week
  • Straighten their bedroom, vacuum and dust it
  • Set table with condiments and beverages
  • Pack their backpack
  • Unload some dishes from dishwasher (utensils)
  • Can put own clothes in drawer with direction from parents

2nd grade (7-8-9 years):

  • Get own breakfast within limited, accessible choices
  • Tell time on analog clock
  • Pack and unpack backpack with help
  • Make a simple lunch by themselves
  • Wash dishes and place in dishwasher
  • Vacuum and dust one other room (besides bedroom) in the house.
  • Can use microwave and toaster.

3rd grade (8-9-10 years):

  • Prepare a menu
  • Write a grocery list
  • Make simple meals for the family.
  • Fold laundry
  • Distribute clean laundry
  • Put own clothes away – maintain and organize clothing drawers in bedroom
  • Take responsibility for acquiring needed supplies and equipment for school or sports.

For more information on learning habits in children click here

The Holiday's are just around the corner.  To Order a copy of The Learning Habit Click HERE 

About the Authors

Robert M. Pressman, PhD.

Robert M. Pressman, Ph.D., is the Director of Research for the New England Center of Pediatric Psychology and a co-author of The Learning Habit.

Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman LICSW

Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman, LICSW, is the Clinical Director of the New England Center for Pediatric Psychology, and the co-author of The Learning Habit.

Rebecca Jackson

Rebecca Jackson is a neuropsychological educator and the co-author of The Learning Habit

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