Kids' Chores for Every Age

Keep in mind that you should assign chores to your children based on their capabilities rather than strictly age. Below are chores divided up by age as a general guideline.

Giving kids chores helps teach them responsibility—and when more than just Mom is pitching in, the household operates much more fluidly. While you should base your child's chores on his or her own individual abilities, we've rounded up some suggestions from around the web for chores that are possible at each age range.

Toddler (Age 1-3)

At this age, chores are more about teaching responsibility than getting something done quickly. But your child may surprise you with what they can accomplish on their own. Always praise the child for what they accomplished, even if you have to re-do it yourself to get it done right.

  • Pick up their own toys and books.

  • Put dirty laundry in a basket, and carry clean laundry to wherever it is folded.

  • With supervision, many toddlers can feed pets (and often find it fun).

  • Throw away their own trash, or help out another family member.

  • Dust the furniture—just don't give them any chemicals.

  • Similar to dusting, toddlers can wipe off other surfaces too, like the dining room table.

  • Toddlers who walk well can carry lightweight items for mom, dad or another member of the household.

  • Many toddlers will enjoy pretending to clean and cook with a parent. Give them unbreakable dishes to “wash,” get a second mop for them to use or pick up toy versions of your own cleaning supplies, and let them watch and help stir in the kitchen.

Preschooler (Age 4-5)

Preschoolers are a little more sturdy on their feet than toddlers, but don't give them the special china to put away just yet. At this age, chores can help teach colors, counting, and matching.

  • Set the table, but be sure it's with something that either won't break if its dropped, or something that's easily replaceable if it does break.

  • Sort the dirty laundry by color, and go through the clean laundry and find matching pairs of socks.

  • Clear off the table by carrying dirty dishes to the kitchen.

  • Water the indoor and outdoor plants -- just make sure to supervise so the plants don't get too much or too little.

  • Cook with an adult -- they can help stir, put cookie dough on the sheet, and other safe tasks.

Elementary School (Grades K-4)

Elementary school kids can do more on their own, but will still need supervision on some tasks.

  • Learn how to load the dishwasher, and how to put the clean dishes away. (Check the dishwasher for knives before they are responsible enough to handle one properly.) They can also dry off the dishes that are hand washed.

  • Learn how to fold by starting with something simple, like the towels and washcloths. Ask them to help put the folded laundry away, too.

  • Kids at this age should start to clean their own bedroom, though some tasks like vacuuming may still require help.

  • Start giving them simple food preparation tasks that they can do on their own—like make a sandwich, or get their own snack. Continue letting them help an adult with the tougher stuff like chopping food with sharp knives.

  • Kids at this age should be able to make their own bed, as well as pull off the bedding when it's ready to be washed.

Middle School (Grades 5-8)

Preteens aren't just learning about being responsible and pitching in; with chores they're prepping to some day live on their own.

  • At this age, kids can wash dishes without needing someone else to rewash them.

  • Don't forget about the outdoors—middle-schoolers can also help with raking and weeding the garden as well as other seasonal tasks like shoveling snow.

  • Older kids can start doing their own laundry after a few lessons on how to use the machines and how much detergent to use.

  • Vacuum the carpets.

  • Sweep and mop.

  • Prepare a simple meal and teach them responsible use of the stove and microwave.

  • Wash the family car—and don't forget the inside, too.

  • Basic home maintenance tasks, like changing a light bulb.

High School (Grades 9 and up)

High school students are nearing adulthood, so now is the time to ensure they'll have all the skills they need to someday run their own household.

  • Clean entire bathroom (some kids may start this earlier, too).

  • Cook a meal, and learn how to budget and shop for the ingredients.

  • Take care of their own car—including checking tire pressure and fluid levels, and getting oil changes and tire rotations.

  • Mow the lawn, whack weeds, and use a leaf blower.

  • Organize their own closets and bedrooms, including getting rid of things they don't use anymore.

  • More involved home maintenance tasks, like painting a room.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list -- just one designed to give parents ideas for what appropriate chores may be for their kids. Keep in mind that each age group can add on from the previous list of tasks as well. Always base chores on the individual child's abilities, and supervise new chores.

What chores do you give your kids that aren't on the list?

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