Sunday, April 20, 2008

Housekeeping Chores for Children

Last weekend we were at a homeschooling conference, which was helpful for me on many fronts.

About a month ago, I set up a schedule for chores and was trying to stick to it. The keynote speakers at the conference were Steve & Teri Maxwell. They have 8 children and have written 2 books about scheduling - one geared on homeschooling multiple children and another geared towards chores. Two weeks into our new "Team S---- Housekeeping Chart", I had been experiencing some "blips" and was thankful for their advice along the way. At the end of the one session, devoted to chores, I was particularly encouraged to keep at it with my boys - despite the "reminding" and "quality control" that needs to be part of the whole endeavour.

I have found one of the most difficult parts of setting up the schedule was finding age- appropriate tasks for my boys to do. Here's a list of the chores they have:

7 year old son (Monday) feed cats, gather laundry, sort laundry, put away laundry
(Tuesday) feed cats, vacuum kitchen, dust lampshades
(Wednesday) feed cats, empty garbages, polish shoes
(Thursday) feed cats, wipe bathroom counters, gather library books
(Friday) feed cats, clean french doors, wipe mirrors
(Saturday) feed cats, clean out van, vacuum main floor & kitchen

5 year old son (Monday) dust railings, put away laundry
(Tuesday) wipe doors (week 1) wipe knobs (wk 2), wipe window frames (wk3)
(Wednesday) wipe baseboards
(Thursday) dust door jams
(Friday ) wipe cupboards (week 1 - kitchen, wk 2- bathrooms, wk 3- bookcases)
(Saturday) tidy garage, tidy shoes
We have yet to make it successfully through a whole week, but we're getting there... and I'm noticing that the boys are mastering the chores bit by bit. Now they are starting to complain less, and accepting their jobs as part of the "Team", and they're becoming familiar with supplies, etc.

Some of the things I have learned:
- pay attention to SAFETY ( a good reminder for me from Steve Maxwell).... I especially like vinegar and water as cleaning ingredients, paired with a good cleaning cloth from the dollar store
- try to choose chores that are age-appropriate... I'm still figuring this out
- be clear in teaching the task and expectations
- inspect the chore after it's complete.... Teri Maxwell mentioned this. I was thankful to learn that this can be an excellent opportunity for me to affirm my sons, as they complete tasks properly. Without this inspection time, I generally only notice when a chore is NOT completed well... and that means only giving negative feedback, which I want to counteract with positive words.
- try doing chores after lunch but before play time.... I have tried doing chores before homeschooling, and found we were using up their best brain time to "dust railings". For the last 2 weeks, we do our morning checklist, homeschool, lunch, chores, and then play time. I find the incentive to stick with chores is exceptionally high at this time, since playtime is the desirable reward at the completion of chores.

These are only my findings thus far. In the coming weeks I want to try out the Maxwells' "ChorePack" idea. If it works, I'll post on it FYI.


Dan Sudfeld said...

Carey posted this on my blog, so I've copied it here and changed your settings to allow other comments. - Dan

Chore and Household skills by Age.

I cannot believe this list is still on the Internet. I printed it off of site 7 or 8 years ago and have found it and lost it several times. What I like about it is that I can use it as a guideline for what to work on next once my child reaches a certain age. By the time my child is 13 and on his way to being an adult these are SOME of the skills I would like him to mastered and can do without complaining or procrastination. (note the emphasis on character instead of just getting it done.) It must be done skillfully AND cheerfully.

Each list builds on the list before it, and does not usually repeat chores already listed. Thus, in planning chores for a ten-year old, you might use ideas from the 5-7 age group as well as the 8-12 age group. Allow for variation in families and the abilities of individual children. This list is only meant to provide ideas and does not imply that children should perform all the chores on the lists.

Age: 2-4
Wash your hands, Brush your teeth, Put away your pajamas Make your bed, Pick up your toys, Dress yourself, Clear your place at the table, Wipe up a spill, Help dust the furniture,
Set the table, Put away silverware from Put dirty laundry in the hamper, Feed a pet dish washer or drying rack

Age: 5-7
Leave the bathroom neat, Take the dirty clothes to LR, Fold laundry with supervision
Put away clean clothes, Help rake the yard, Pull weeds, Water flowers, Sweep patio or side walk Help to clean inside of car, Help to wash the car, Shake out rugs, Straighten your drawers and closet, Sweep kitchen floor, Mop floors, Wipe counter in kitchen
Help prepare meals (e.g. peel vegetables, tear lettuce) Put dishes away, Wipe chairs and table legs, Empty trash cans, Clean marks on walls and doors, Shine windows with help, Shine mirrors with help Scrub bathroom sinks, Wipe counters in bathroom, Clear the table, Help to wash and dry dishes, Load & turn on dishwasher with help, Operate washer & dryer with help, Help to put away groceries, Get the mail, Tie shoes, Bring in firewood, Make your own lunch, Feed pets and groom them, Care for younger siblings while parents are at home, Clean pet cages, Straighten up a room, Put away dishes.

Age: 8-12
Put away groceries, Make simple recipes, Serve breakfast or lunch to younger children, Clean kitchen after a meal, Scrub kitchen floor, Change the bed sheets, Sort clothes and load washer Load and operate dryer (including cleaning lint trap on dryer) Hang clothes on the line, Fold and put away clean laundry, Vacuum floors, Vacuum carpeted stairs, Vacuum couches and chairs Dust furniture and window sills,Clean walls, Clean front of kitchen cabinets, CleanTV and computer, Knows proper use and precautions for cleaning supplies, Clean bathroom completely Wash the car, Help to polish car, Help to clean interior of car, Water indoor plants, Water the yard, Rake the yard, Weed the garden, Clean pet cages and fish bowls, Walk a pet, Train a pet Answer phone and make a call, Write thank you notes, Repair torn books, Help bathe younger children, Dress younger children, Polish shoes, Pack own clothes for a trip, Trim your own nails, Pack a picnic, Decorate for a party, Polish silverware, Sew buttons

Age 13-adult
Replace light bulbs safely, Change vacuum bags and belt, Wash windows inside and out, Clean fireplace, Polish wood furniture and cabinets, Babysit, Clean out refrigerator and identify spoiled food,Clean the stove and oven, Plan a balanced meal, Make a grocery list, Know how to treat stains, Shop for groceries, Cook Balanced meals, Hand-wash delicate clothes, Iron clothes, Basic mending, Mow the lawn Trim bushes, Polish car, Put gas in the car, Oil a bicycle, Oil squeaky hinges, etc. Putty dents in walls, Help paint interior walls, Use caulk, Scrape paint,
Help paint exterior of house, Strip and wax floors, Clean bathroom grout.

Homemanager said...

Hello Marlene,
I just wanted to leave a comment about chores...
it is good for the children to have chores, but one of the things that we stressed, was working together.

The second important thing that I found is that we encourage them not only to do their own chores but to learn to be observant and when our chores are done, do whatever other things you see needs doing.

Otherwise, they will only do what has been assigned and do not learn to serve the other family members. The family is one unit working toward the same goal - to glorify the Lord. We build and fight together (Nehemiah 4):-)

I hope you are enjoying the warmer weather!

Marlene S. said...

Thanks to both Carey and Karen. I feel like "raising children" is continually a process of learning- for them and for myself. So, I appreciate any help and advice I can get from others.