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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
Dust

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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Date: April 18, 2015 Time: 10:00am