Chores for every age group

    By Sheila Seifert

    Dirty dishes. Messy bedrooms. Toys on the living room floor. Some days, there just isn’t a good way to avoid the chore wars. But there is always tomorrow, and you can be proactive. Ask yourself, What chores are important for my children to learn, and what are they capable of doing?

    Before finding the answer, recognize the difference between a chore (an ongoing task that benefits the household) and a life skill (an activity that children should know how to do before living on their own, such as managing a checking account).

    The following list is not a life-skills checklist. It is a list of age-appropriate chores. As you view it, remember that every child matures at a different pace. Adjust this chart to what you know about your children’s skills and talents, and realize that no child should do all of the chores listed below every day.

    The following list is only meant as a guide and reflects the types of chores that many children in specific age ranges are capable of completing. These general guidelines may help your children succeed in personal and family responsibility:

    Ages 2 and 3

    Personal chores

    Assist in making their beds
    Pick up playthings with your supervision

    Family chores

    Take their dirty laundry to the laundry basket
    Fill a pet’s water and food bowls (with supervision)
    Help a parent clean up spills and dirt

    Ages 4 and 5

    Note: This age can be trained to use a family chore chart.

    Personal chores

    Get dressed with minimal parental help
    Make their bed with minimal parental help
    Bring their things from the car to the house
    Pick up their toys
    Wash hands

    Family chores 

    Set the table with supervision
    Clear the table with supervision
    Help a parent prepare food
    Help a parent carry in the lighter groceries
    Sort colors for the laundry
    Match socks after clothing is washed
    Answer the phone with parental assistance
    Be responsible for a pet’s food and water bowl
    Hang up towels in the bathroom
    Clean floors with a dry mop

    Ages 6 and 7

    Note: This age can be supervised to use a family chore chart.

    Personal chores

    Make their bed every day
    Brush teeth
    Comb hair
    Choose the day’s outfit and get dressed
    Write thank you notes with supervision

    Family chores

    Be responsible for a pet’s food, water, and exercise
    Vacuum individual rooms
    Wet mop individual rooms
    Fold laundry with supervision
    Put their laundry in their drawers and closets
    Put away dishes from the dishwasher
    Help prepare food with supervision
    Empty indoor trash cans
    Answer the phone with supervision

    Ages 8 to 11

    Note: This age benefits from using a family chore chart.

    Personal chores

    Take care of personal hygiene
    Keep bedroom clean
    Be responsible for homework
    Be responsible for belongings
    Write thank you notes for gifts
    Wake up using an alarm clock

    Family chores

    Wash dishes
    Wash the family car with supervision
    Prepare a few easy meals on their own
    Clean the bathroom with supervision
    Rake leaves
    Learn to use the washer and dryer
    Put all laundry away with supervision
    Take the trash can to the curb for pick up
    Test smoke alarms once a month with supervision
    Screen phone calls using caller ID and answer when appropriate

    Ages 12 and 13

    Personal chores

    Take care of personal hygiene, belongings, and homework
    Write invitations and thank you notes
    Set their alarm clock
    Maintain personal items, such as recharging batteries
    Change bed sheets
    Keep their rooms tidy and do a biannual deep cleaning

    Family chores

    Change light bulbs
    Change the vacuum bag
    Dust, vacuum, clean bathrooms and do dishes
    Clean mirrors
    Mow the lawn with supervision
    Baby sit (in most states)
    Prepare an occasional family meal

    Ages 14 and 15

    Personal chores

    Responsible for all personal chores for ages 12 and 13
    Responsible for library card and books

    Family chores

    Do assigned housework without prompting
    Do yard work as needed
    Baby sit
    Prepare food — from making a grocery list and buying the items (with supervision) to serving a meal — occasionally
    Wash windows with supervision

    Ages 16 to 18

    Personal chores

    Responsible for all personal chores for ages 14 and 15
    Responsible to earn spending money
    Responsible for purchasing their own clothes
    Responsible for maintaining any car they drive (e.g., gas, oil changes, tire pressure, etc.)

    Family chores

    Do housework as needed
    Do yard work as needed
    Prepare family meals — from grocery list to serving it — as needed
    Deep cleaning of household appliances, such as defrosting the freezer, as needed

    Would you like help creating a chore chart? Download these PDFs and get started:

    Chore Chart for Youngsters

    Chore Chart for Tweens

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