Children from a young age are willing and able to help with household chores. Our cultural norms may tell us otherwise, but with the tips below, your child can be helping with chores appropriate to their age and ability level in no time! Two reasons that children may not help with cleaning tasks around the house may be:
- Adults don't provide children the time and space to clean up. We do it ourselves because, frankly, it's faster!
- The environment is not prepared for a child to help with practical tasks like sweeping, washing dishes or putting away clothing.
To remedy these situations try:
- Inviting your child to assist in taking care of the house from a young age. Leave time for a child to move at their own pace. If they get distracted, provide clear steps to follow rather than general tasks like, "Clean up!"
- Setting up cleaning stations in each room, or one cupboard where your child can go to find their cleaning supplies. Find smaller versions of spray bottles, brooms, rags and dust pans that are appropriate for your child's hands. Of course, keep all dangerous chemicals out of reach and give your child natural cleaning solutions instead.
Now your child is ready to help out around the house. Make cleaning up a daily rather than weekly or monthly routine. The more practice the better. Invite your child to participate in these age-appropriate chores:
Up to 18 months
- Wipe up spills with small cloth or mitt
- Put away blocks or toys in appropriate bins
- Fetch items like shoes, coat or hat
18 months to 3 years
- Place dirty clothing in hamper
- Dress/Undress with assistance
- Put garbage in trash bin
- Place toys/books on shelf when finished
3 to 6 years
- Sweep and collect debris
- Wash dishes / load dishwasher
- Place clothing on a drying rack
- Sort and put away clothing
- Prepare snack / help prepare meals
Montessori classrooms often refer to chores as "practical life" activities. The more you can involve your child in the very practical tasks of taking care of themselves and your family home, the more independent they will be.