Preschool-aged children are reaching an age where they want to help their parents, guardians, or even older siblings with whatever tasks they are doing. This makes it an easy age to start implementing daily household chores if the idea was not already begun when the child was a toddler.
Having responsibility in the home can make children ages four to five feel needed, and give them the satisfaction of seeing results they helped to achieve. Each task will serve as a building block in the foundation of skills they will eventually carry with them into adulthood, as well.
While many parents wish to start giving their children daily chores or tasks to do, they aren’t sure what is appropriate for preschoolers or how many chores a child this age should be given.
How Many Chores?
Children aged four to five typically do well with two to three daily chores. One or more of these may revolve around self-care, and not necessarily the house itself. Learning how to tend to their own needs is one of the biggest skills that preschool-aged children are learning, and most parents find their children enthusiastic about the idea.
Appropriate Chores for Preschoolers
At ages four and five, children should be able to start doing a few self-care tasks. In fact, most children are enthusiastic about it, as any parent who has repeatedly heard their child say, “I’ll do it myself!” will tell you. Simple self-care tasks might include choosing one’s own clothes and getting dressed (possibly with assistance until confident). Preschoolers may be capable of brushing their teeth and might be learning how to bathe themselves under supervision.
In terms of household tasks, most parents find they are astonished at just how much their preschoolers can actually do. Examples of household tasks that are appropriate for preschoolers include:
• Putting their own toys away
• Filling a pet’s food and water bowls
• Placing their own dirty clothes into the laundry hamper to be washed
• Wiping up spills they’ve made
• Piling books or magazines on a bookshelf or table
• Dusting tables and baseboards with either a dry cloth or socks on hands
• Helping a parent or older sibling make the beds
• Mopping small sections of the floor with a dry mop or microfiber mop
• Preparing the table for meals
• Using a small, portable vacuum for crumbs on or beneath furniture
• Put away clean, safe utensils from dishwasher or drain (not knives)
• Help carry in light grocery bags
• Wash children’s dishes and cups at the sink with supervision
• Match socks or sort family member’s clothes while a parent folds the rest of the laundry
If you have a yard or garden, there are plenty of other things a preschool-aged child can assist with. In the beginning, a four or five-year-old child might need a lot of assistance with outdoor chores, but these also tend to be the ones that children are most willing to do. A few examples of tasks your preschooler could do in the yard include:
• Pulling weeds
• Watering the flowers
• Helping refill seed feeders or water baths for birds
• Help gather twigs, fallen leaves and other non-dangerous debris from around the property
• Help exercise a pet (like a dog) in a fenced-in backyard
There are numerous benefits to having your four or five-year-old child start helping with a few daily household tasks. Preschoolers are also able to start taking care of a few of their own needs and are enthusiastic about doing so. Although parents will have to supervise most chores at this age, accomplishing them will help to build a solid foundation of necessary life skills for the years to come.
About the author:
Jeannine Laubner is the Academic Director of Kipinä Kids Nurseries and Preschools, the world’s fastest-growing international Finnish preschool franchise. She is a fourth-generation teacher, and mother of two Kipinä-educated children. Hailing from San Francisco, USA, she is a successful leader in education with over 18 years of experience. Jeannine holds a Masters degree in Teaching, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development certification. When she is not developing teaching tools for the Kipinä Enhanced Finland Curriculum, she is supporting green initiatives, animal welfare and Girl Scouts Overseas.