The Montessori chart of age-appropriate chores shows that kids are capable of doing far more than we often think. Here's why you should insist on your kid helping around the house.
Every so often, the Montessori chart of age-appropriate chores shows up in my Facebook feed. My parent friends share it quite readily, although their comments have an edge of disbelief to them, as if to say, “Can you imagine getting our kids to do all this? How lovely it would be!”
I believe it’s entirely possible and not unrealistic whatsoever to expect kids to do these chores. The problem is that there are conflicting factors at work here. One is the parents’ reluctance to insist on regular chores, whether it’s because they lack discipline themselves or feel uncomfortable asserting authority over their children. Another is the North American cultural perception that children are somehow incapable of or damaged by working when they don’t feel like doing so. These are unfortunate perceptions that get in the way of many kids’ potential for feeling purposeful through chores.
Kids are naturally drawn toward tasks with clearly defined end goals. They love to feel needed by their parents and to know that their contributions to housework make a difference. While most kids will resist the implementation of a new chore schedule, it quickly becomes routine and they will do it without complaining (or, at least, with minimal grumbling!) – that is, if the parent is consistent in making sure each kid does his or her tasks.
Some parents like to create a reward system as incentive, while others wants kids to know it’s expected behaviour as a member of the family. Whatever your approach is, the important thing is to ensure that kids do chores at home. You will be amazed at how much they can handle with some practice!
Over time, a child’s sense of purpose extends beyond the home. Insisting on regular chores equips them with practical skills that make it easy to live independently, when the time comes; helps to them understand everything that goes into running a household, which will eventually make it easier for them to share those duties with a partner, rather than lapsing into “passive cluelessness”; and gives them a sense of capability and an understanding of the importance of consistent hard work that can be transferred to other professions.
As one commenter wrote to the New York Times, “Never teaching your kids to do real things robs them of the vital sense of being of real use in the world. This loss will have long term impact.”
The word “chores” has an unfortunate negative connotation. It sounds old-fashioned and out-of-date, but really it’s one of the most important things you can do for your kid – more than driving them to ballet lessons and karate practice. Teach them how to work, how to be accountable, how to pitch in and be a contributing member at home, and you will raise adults who continue to do the same thing.