As a 1st grade teacher, I have always had high expectations in my classroom. My students have fun, but they also have a lot of responsibility. Why? Because they can handle it. They love it. They need it. And let’s just be honest, I need all the help I can get.
As a mom to a 3 year old, I feel the same way.
One integral part of building a sense of responsibility, honing listening skills, developing pride in ownership and giving your child the opportunity to follow directions is, in my opinion, assigning chores at a young age.
I remember when my son had just mastered the art of walking. I was so excited to start teaching him chores that he could do easily since he was upright and mobile. Everett was 12 months old when he learned how to take his dirty clothes into his room and put them in the dirty clothes hamper. I remember I was beaming with pride and my husband was looking at me like, “What’s the big deal?” To me it showed his ability to learn, follow directions and feel a sense pride when he finished a task. We celebrated, praised him, gave high fives and he looked forward to helping us from that day forward.
Since that day his chores haven’t stopped; and he loves it.
According to the Center for Parenting Education,
Even though it is more difficult at the time to persist in having children do chores, research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.
Doing chores gives a child the opportunity to give back to their parents for all you do for them. Kids begin to see themselves as important contributors to the family. They feel a connection to the family. Holding them accountable for their chores can increase a sense of themselves as responsible and actually make them more responsible. Children will feel more capable for having met their obligations and completed their tasks.
Many parents that I have talked to, both as a teacher and as a friend, seem to have the idea that because their child is small, they can’t or don’t understand directions. Believe me. They do. They understand everything that is going on around them; before they can talk, and before they can walk. Babies, toddlers and even first graders are more often than not, smarter, more capable and more willing to help than we ever give them credit for.
Since incorporating simple household responsibilities I have seen my son become more caring, kind and willing to help anytime, anywhere. Toddlers love to do things by themselves, so why not foster that need to be independent in a manageable, helpful way? Now, will it add on a few extra minutes to finish whatever chore they are doing? Probably. Will you have re-do said chore after they attempt it? Maybe. Can you introduce the meaning of good manners, teamwork, and cause and effect as you celebrate with them as they finish a chore? Yes. Will your kiddo feel a sense of accomplishment and pride after they “help” you? Absolutely.
Here are a few of our everyday chores that we have given to our little guy to enrich his life and make ours a little easier. He is so used to it now that I rarely have to ask him to do them, he just knows that these tasks have now become expectations.
Make bed – this usually entails just pulling the covers up
Help with the baby – getting diapers/wipes
Turning off the lights in the house as we leave
Putting backpack into the car, hang backpack up when we get to school
Meal time Chores:
Clear the table
Throw away trash
Set/Clear the table
Open the door for patrons (and and mom or dad) when leaving school
Put shoes away in the appropriate spot when we get home from school
Carry in and hang backpack on the designated hook (school and home)
Sort and help put away clean silverware.
Check the mail.
Bath time/Bed time Chores:
Take dirty clothes to the hamper
Clean up bath toys before getting out of the bathtub
Wiping down shower walls if bath paint/crayons were used
Clean up toys (inside and outside) before moving on to the next activity
Transfer laundry from washer to dryer
Put folded clothes away in dresser