NORMAN — Q: Our children are in elementary school, and we feel it is time for them to start taking some responsibilities around the house. When we were their ages, one of us had chores and the other did not. What do you think is an appropriate age to start chores, and can you give some ideas as to what chores would be age-level appropriate?
— Ben and Stacey
Dear Ben and Stacey,
We absolutely think elementary-aged children should start taking responsibilities around the house. You need to remember that in the beginning, these chores aren’t going to be completed perfectly, but after a few attempts, they’ll get the hang of it.
Even very young children are able to put their toys away, put dirty clothes in a hamper and put clean clothes in a drawer.
By the time children are in elementary school, they should be able to help with chores such as emptying the dishwasher, setting the table, folding clothes, dusting furniture and caring for animals.
By middle/junior high, kids should be doing their own laundry, getting themselves up and ready for school, fed and out the door on time. They should also be able to vacuum, help with lawn care, help to prepare meals and take out the trash.
By the time students are in high school, they should be preparing to live outside of our homes, which means being pretty much self-sufficient. Once they are driving age, they should be taught about minor maintenance issues such as filling a gas tank, airing up the tires and knowing when the oil needs to be changed.
We feel it is a disservice to our children if they aren’t ready for the real world, whether attending college or simply living on their own. Being able to take care of one’s self instills a sense of pride, accomplishment and self-confidence.