Chores for Children by Age Group *Free Printables*
Chores are a really important and spoke to frequently in the Montessori Method. Maria Montessori essentially based her model on the premise that children enjoy doing more than being told about an activity and that they want to feel needed and helpful.
Some think chores are a bit "harsh" especially starting as young as 2 years old, and for some reason they have a negative connotation associated with them from television classics that hinted chores were a form of control or punishment within the home. Let me reassure you, they are not, and should not be associated with any form of punishment... the idea of goal setting and mastering tasks helps not only teach important real life skills they will keep with them for life, but also has an effect on raising self esteem. They tend to instill a sense of mastery, self reliance, responsibility, empathy and respect for others — and the sooner you start, the better.
To give you an idea of what you might see in a Montessori school, here is a "day in the life of" schedule from my 4 year old daughter's school:
Daily Schedule (Flexibility is important!)
6:45-8:30 Before School Care (Boxwood)
8:30-9:00 Greetings – Housekeeping chores: dusting, emptying trashcans, sweeping, recycling, trash out, compost – General tidying up to start the day.
9:00-9:30 “Nine on the Line” – plan for the day, chit chat
9:30-11:30 Work Period** and Individual Snack
11:45-12 Hand washing for lunch
12:30 Pick up for half day students
12:30-1:15 Clean up, free time (reading books/magazines), games, outside activities, art projects
1:15-1:30 Prepare for rest
1:30-2:30 Rest with a story
2:30-3:00 Summing up the day
3:00 End of day pick up, farewells and information share
3:15-5:30 After School Care (Boxwood or Mrs. Sarah’s)
**Art, Cultural, Diaries, Geography, Language Arts,
Math, Music, Practical Life, and Sensorial
Tuesday/Friday Trash Days – take trash to the curb
Wednesday – Recycling Day – take to curb (magazines/newspaper tie up, card board stack, bag will hold plastic #1 #2, glass, aluminum/metal cans)
Compost take out as needed
So you can see they start their day with housekeeping, I would have never in a million years thought that I would see a 4 year old excited to arrive first at school so she could get to the vinegar spray bottle first so she could clean tables and door knobs. Before I studied Montessori, I would have assumed this was a borderline child labor issue lol.
Okay so how do you start? I found this a really good starting point written by Developmental Psychologist, Richard Rende:
I found it especially interesting he makes the point to leave money out of it, I remember doing chores for money when I was younger, but after reading the crib notes mentioned above, it makes a lot of sense!
* When choosing chores, they need to be age appropriate and something that they can excel in. If they are clumsy, giving them the task to put dishes away may not be a good choice. Surely they need to master their motor skills, but chores should be set in place for them to achieve goals, and not be discouraged. The lesson here is about responsibility and self management.
* In order to keep the idea of self motivating, paying money for chores is not a good idea. Instead, if you wish to incorporate awards, you can use the sticker chart alone. This way you avoid future logical minds from saying, "you know what mom, I don't really want to go out for ice cream this weekend, so I forfeit my chores." Trust me, this will come up, oh the joys of raising thinkers. :) A simple sticker chart or check off chart is a good way to "track" these to do's and may be satisfying that reward input... however it doesn't weigh on them actually doing them. When they do master their list, you can recognize them in some way at home, or offer a small reward, but I find it better to not advertise the details!
* Make chore time a fun family time. Set aside a spot in your day where you can join in on the chores as well. Showing your involvement will set a standard in expectations, if mom is doing this, you should be as well A Sense of community within the home goes a long way with applying the general term "respect" do your daily activities. No one wants to work for someone later in life that won't pick up a toilet brush if need be.
* Have fun with it, turn up the music, open windows, and dance. This will not only encourage positivity, but make it go by much faster as well!
* Step in and offer help occasionally. If someone isn't feeling well, or you notice that today has been a ho-hum day. Jump in when you finish your tasks and ask, "hey can I help you today I have finished my work." This way you also are showing them how to recognize other's emotions/frustrations and having the empathy to lend a helping hand. This is a really great tool to help steer away from future, "that's not my job," personalities rather than shape future go getters and team players!
* Last but not least, let your little ones see what you do for work, whether it's making beds, doing laundry, working from home on the computer, grocery shopping, etc... write your own list and check off for them to associate their chores as being important too. They're eager to see that they are making a difference or impact on the family life in a positive way by helping. What better role models to have than theirs truly?
Below you will find chore charts by age!