Children and Chores: Start ‘Em Early!

Back when I was in the classroom, I developed a “teach them to fish” mentality with all sorts of administrative tasks that could take away my (oh, so limited) time to actually teach the kids. I would cringe when I’d see other teachers spending their precious planning period walking around stamping behavior folders for the day, organizing supplies in their room, or other time-sucking tasks that I knew the kids could complete on their own.


How did I know the kids could do these things on their own? Because I took the time at the beginning of the year to train my own 1st- and 2nd-graders to do them and that extra bit I time I put in at the start of the school year saved me hours in the long run!

But besides saving me time, it fostered an environment of independence in my students and allowed them to learn skills that year beyond the state-mandated standards.

So when my little Gv came along, I knew I wanted to follow this same mindset with her – for so many reasons.


Benefits of Chores:

  1. Build self-esteem (read other great esteem-booster ideas here)
  2. Promote autonomy
  3. Teach everyday skills
  4. Encourage teamwork
  5. Build respect
  6. Introduce time management and organization
  7. Create responsibility
  8. Instill pride
  9. & so much more!

I began this process when she was a just a wee thing – you can read my post about Toddlers and Chores here – but the main thing I’ve tried to do through the years is to pause before doing mundane jobs myself and consider whether there’s an aspect that I can begin turning over to her.

This especially applies to all those annoying duties that you sometimes do in your sleep because your kids ask you to do them day after day after day. If it’s something safe that’s done often, see if you can turn that task over to your preschooler!


Chore Ideas for Young Children:

You can probably come up with plenty of great ideas for special jobs that your own littlest family members can help with, but in case you’re stumped, here’s a list to get you started:

  1. Pick up toys, clothes, room
  2. Put dishes away after a meal
  3. Put shoes away when get home
  4. Make the bed
  5. Help with laundry (bring dirty laundry to laundry area, sort into piles, help fill washer & dryer with clothes)
  6. Fold/put away clean clothes (towels, socks & underwear are easy to start with and hanging simple things like t-shirts are simple, too)
  7. Help fill/unload dishwasher and put things away (especially lower cabinets and drawers and those 5,683 plastic containers that we all seem to have!)
  8. Set the table
  9. Water plants
  10. Take care of pets (feed them, give them water, let them out)
  11. Cooking (especially tasks like peeling, dumping & stirring)
  12. Wiping up spills and counters
  13. Putting away groceries
  14. Organizing library materials (we love the library – and it’s so much more than books – read more about that here)
  15. Sweeping (a task that will make Maria Montessori proud!)
  16. Yardwork (collecting sticks, bagging leaves, pulling weeds)


Hopefully that got your brain coming up with your own list that works for your family! What other things can you think of to add? I’d love to hear! Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.



  • Alicia says:

    Great list! We do just about all of those with our younger ones. I think that list captures pretty well what preschoolers can do. Winding up the cord on the vacuum could be another one (if they are not terrified of it LOL) or helping wipe down kitchen counters and helping wipe windows (or letting them spray a non toxic cleaner to clean those windows).

    • Lisa Healy says:

      Great additions to the list, Alicia! We don’t have any carpet in our house now, but winding up the cord would definitely go on our list if we did!

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