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Sunday 9 July 2023

How to encourage children to do chores at home

The key to encouraging your child to take part in daily chores is to start early, and make it fun!

how to encourage children to do chores at home - picture of a girl spraying cleaner
                                                            This is a collaborative post

Chores should not be seen as a ‘chore’ by children. It works on the same principle of play based learning in the foundation stage - for a child to learn, take part willingly and also remember the skills you have taught them, then it needs to be playful and fun and it must be purposeful.

Here are some ideas and examples of how to encourage children to help with chores around the home...

Turn chores into role play

Children love to ‘take on a role’, usually mimicking adults they have observed in every day life - so successful chore allocation must always start with a good role model. Whether this is a parent in the home, or a member of staff in a local establishment, it’s important for children to have experience of seeing their ‘job’ in action and why it is an important role to undertake. Watching adults undertake a task is how children learn, and so they must always be shown before being expected to carry out a job.

Make sure that chores are developmentally appropriate

For example, younger children and toddlers may start with simple sorting activities such as collecting all of the clean spoons or forks from the dishwater and putting them away in the cutlery draw, or helping you to pair up the odd socks! Older children may attempt to fold their clean clothes (We use these folding helpers with our children at home to make this an easier task) and put them away in the correct draws, help to put the clean pots away in the kitchen and clear away the dirty pots too. 

Make the chores into a competition or a game! 

Use sand timers or stop clocks to achieve a task in a desired amount of time. Work together to find a winner. Ask your child to pick up and put away all of the blue items from their bedroom floor, or give them a minute to pick up 3 toys and put them away. Break it down into easy to understand chunks of information and don't give too many instructions all at once! Do musical tidy up - when the music plays they have to tidy as much as they can before the music stops and they become a statue!

We have also been using an online game called 'Germ Squirmish' to encourage the idea of cleaning being fun and playful. The game sees a child enter a house with a number of rooms which have been infected by germs, and he has to use his spray to disinfect and clean the rooms before he gets sick. On a desktop this uses the arrow keys and space bar, but you can also play this on a tablet or phone:

germ squirmish online game
As you can see, there are three different battles to choose from, and the game also includes voices and sound effects too - it definitely put a bit of fun into the idea of cleaning up!

The website has lots of other great games to help children learn through play, such as role play games where you can work in a pizza shop, ice cream bar or in a supermarket taking orders, totaling up the cost of items and giving change, so be sure to check those out using the link above. 

Do chores together 

For example, if you are washing the windows, or shower screens, give your child a spray bottle of water and a cloth to work next to you. Let them help you to fold large towels, or wash the pots side by side. Wash the car on a warm day, or race to see who can pick up the most lego!

Remind your child of how helpful they are

Make them aware of the importance of their place within the family, and let them know that the role they undertake is invaluable to you. Give praise where it is due to help instill a sense of pride and achievement in carrying out jobs. Intrinsic motivation is the key here, an really important for helping children to understand how they can contribute to the home and family in a helpful way. 

Of course, you may wish to use chores as a way to help teach your child how to do jobs in return for pocket money when saving up for something they want! If so, it is best to choose jobs or chores that are over and above the usual expectations, which would not usually be expected as part of a family contribution. You can read more about how to teach children about money and using chores for this purpose in my next blog post - Teaching children about money. Also take a a look at some of the online games mentioned above. 

Help children to see the reasons WHY chores are important 

For example, “this is great work, now that we have cleared up the dirty pots from the table and wiped it down we can eat our lunch/do some baking/play playdough on here”.

Nothing motivates a child like the promise of more snacks or playtime right?!