I know I am not alone in wanting my children to learn how to contribute to household tasks, but lately I have been finding it faster and easier just to do it myself.
I have pinned different tips and techniques from for chore systems from Pinterest and, starting when my oldest son was 3, tried a few different approaches.
First, I made printable picture lists; when my son completed a task he got a happy face and when he had a few happy faces he earned some cold hard cash (a quarter, if I recall correctly). That worked for a little while as long as I continued to propel the system, then I realized that money had no real meaning for him so I switched the “currency” to TV time.
For every chore, he earned a set amount of screen time. This was more effective, but I quickly discovered that with Daddy out of town, I needed ‘Aunty T.V.’s’ help to manage 2 boys and their baby sister.
Once my daughter turned 2-years-old, I attempted a new system inspired by Pinterest. I made picture cards for each child with different tasks, gave each a frame with 6 hooks and when they completed a task they flipped the picture and earned minutes of TV time. Now that they were older, I thought I could manage with a little less help from our favourite aunt…. I was wrong. So I tried giving them coins for each picture turned over, but still found it too complicated to manage. Alas, that system failed despite my beautiful pictures.
Fast forward to today with my youngest at 3-years-old, oldest heading into grade 3 and ready to gain some independence, and my middle guy the most eager to help out around the house. With all the new beginnings of fall, I have prepared new chore charts and am ready to give them a whirl!
Here is my plan:
- The chore charts are customized for each child with daily and weekly tasks at their level with the oldest having the most responsibilities.
- Each will be expected to help do their own laundry and prepare supper one day a week, in addition to cleaning their room and a household cleaning chore (dusting, etc.).
- Each will have a chore to do around supper time and the boys will be responsible for packing their own school lunches and unpacking backpacks at the end of the day.
Some of these chores may be things that other people’s kids do automatically; to that I say, ‘Congratulations, I am jealous’.
Now I have a plan to get there sooner or later! I included tasks that currently require a lot of prompting from me with the hope that they will gain competence and independence – such as the backpacks, and even getting ready in the morning since they all tend to dawdle and (successfully) draw me into power struggles in my (unsuccessful) attempt to avoid being late.
How the Children’s Chore Chart Works
- I made the chore charts using a simple Word document, table, clip art and Google images.
- I used pictures and text so that the youngest non-reader can follow, and the middle emerging reader can learn!
- I included a column noting which day(s) each chore should be done (and for the youngest, check-marks as a visual indication of how many times a week she should be doing each chore – she can count but cannot read), and another column for them to check off as they complete chores.
- My husband and I will assist each child at his/her level to complete their chores, providing the “just right” level of challenge – not so little help that they get frustrated and not too much that they aren’t developing the skill.
- The chore charts are printed and posted on our kitchen wall – easily accessible and no small pieces to keep track of!
We’ll reinforce the chart with positive verbal praise and I plan to give them each $5 per week allowance for a fully checked-off chore chart. I thought about pro-rating the allowance amount according to age but my brain couldn’t even begin to keep that organized.
Their allowance will go into their own savings jar and about once a month we will tally the jar and allot 80% for spending, 10% for saving and 10% for giving. Boo yah for math skills! Not to mention, it is my strong desire to teach them to save and give at an early age so that it becomes automatic later in life. I may phase out allowance as they get older and learn that contributing to the family is just a given, but we are a ways off from that for now.
Download, Edit and Print Your Own Chore Chart
To print out your own copy, just click on the image of the chart you wish to make your own. You can download the chart and make your own edits.
We are still in summer mode and we are going to squeeze every last bit of fun out of our non-routine as we can, but come September, we will crack down with our chore charts and enjoy the routines that September brings!
What do you think? Have you implemented a chore system that works? What was it? Why did or didn’t it work?