What chores can 4-7 year old children do?

Thanks for the warning, unknown Whole Foods Shopper. My guess is that a five year old drove it. That’s one chore we’re NOT ready for…

The first time my child had considered that he might be responsible for regular household chores was undoubtedly this conversation, from last fall:

Boy Detective: Why are there no towels?

Me: Because you didn’t do the wash.

Boy Detective: (long pause) Well, I haven’t refused

Up until lately, the child has been either (a) invited to do a chore with someone if he found it entertaining, or (b) randomly asked to do isolated tasks as they come up. He hasn’t yet been asked to get into the habit of doing certain tasks regularly.

Obviously this is a problem. The real world is not a place where other people do all the normal chores for you and only ask you to do them favors occasionally!

So here are the tasks we’re starting to migrate to him as HIS jobs, though obviously they’re still being done with prompts and even some help from us as needed:

  • Putting his dishes in the dishwasher if there’s room, instead of just bringing them to the counter
  • Putting his own dirty laundry in his laundry basket (I know, that should have been a no-brainer long ago!)
  • Hanging up his own towel after bath (yes, I get it, we did too much for him for soooo long…)
  • Folding the cloth napkins and washcloths when they come out of the dryer and putting them away
  • Putting away clean silverware and putting the basket back in the dishwasher
  • Taking the non-glass recycling from the kitchen to the blue bin in the garage

On an irregular basis, he also helps scrub the bathroom sinks, and load and unload laundry from the machines.

I also tried for a while to have him check all the bathrooms to see if they needed more rolls of toilet paper, but I keep forgetting.

So tell me, dear readers, what kind of chores have you seen children doing between the ages of 4 and 7 – your own children or other people’s?

(Or, if you have pets, do they have any chores? That might be helpful as well. For example, we used to have a dog to watch for the pizza delivery, and now that she’s gone Boy Detective does that…)

We seem to be pretty good ad adding 1-2 things every couple of months, so I’m just looking to build a running list of “next” chores.

11 thoughts on “What chores can 4-7 year old children do?

  1. June @ Coffee Under The Umbrella

    This is awesome! I really, really believe kids should be taught to do (reasonable) chores from an early age. My son is only 3, so he doesn’t really apply to the 4-7 group yet, but he is able to set silverware on the table, put away clean silverware, help bring in (light) groceries – he stunned me the other day when he grabbed one of those really large bottles of vinegar and brought it in for me – and put his dirty clothes away in the hamper. He can sort of fold his own clothes very simply and slowly, and of course, he is expected to put his toys away.

    It’s not always pleasant and is, in fact, rather unpleasant at times, but it gets better and I think our kids will be much more independent and responsible as they get older. The last thing I want my son to be is a husband who needs his wife to do everything for him.

  2. Jenn- gorunningmama.com

    My toddler loves brushing the dogs for us as well as helping with cooking responsibilities. I know she is younger than the 4-7 year old set, but those are great to add if you haven’t already!

  3. Skye

    @ Jenn, if we still had a dog that would be perfect! With cooking, that was totally my fault that we didn’t start him on that earlier. I had so little tolerance for how long it took to get anything done. Luckily his grandma had plenty of tolerance and cooked with him, so now that he’s a little older he bakes with me sometimes. It would be great to make that more of a day to day thing though.

    @ June, bringing in light groceries is such a good idea. That’s been a “favor” one so far and it needs to be more of a regular thing. And your 3 year old can fold his clothes?! New assignment in our house!

  4. Sarah

    Let’s see…they all 3 clean their places off and put the dishes in the sink after meals. If I was more organized the dishes would be going into the actual dishwasher, but yeah…they also pick up on a regular basis, although the almost 4 year old needs a lot of guidance there and sometimes the 5yo is all I AM TIRED HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME DO THINGS.

    My 7yo has been asking to help fold laundry and I’ve been letting her fold the kitchen towels, etc. I need to teach both the 7 and the 5yo how to fold their clothing.

    They really don’t do much, now that I type this all out. We probably should work on this.

  5. Skye

    @ Sarah, the “picking up” thing just makes me want to cry most days. I can’t get a handle on it.

  6. TokenOmnivore

    You may feel like you’re a little behind. But you’re light-years ahead of some fellow college students that had gone off to school and had never done any laundry or cleaned a bathroom (my freshman “dorm” was an apartment building).

    As for canine-related tasks, I’m not sure you’d want Boy Detective:

    – Notifying you when the water jug is empty by batting it around the kitchen

    – Pre-cleaning the dishes in the dishwasher (when our backs are turned)

    – Giving night-time POSSUM INVASION ALERTS!!!

    – Being an infallible early morning alarm clock. [Small bladder + prednisone = smaller bladder :-( ]

    – Cleaning all crumbs from the floor

    That said, I’m sure he’d enjoy:

    – Sofa snuggle time

    – Occasional random howling, in chorus

    The only suggestion I’d make would be to get BD to eventually get comfortable cooking a meal from scratch. We’d helped my mom bake. And could follow recipes left for us. But it was embarrassing to get to school and not have a clue of what to do with an egg.

  7. Skye

    @ TokenOmnivore, all very good observations. But also to point out, he already has occasional random howling covered. ;)

  8. Kelly H

    My almost 5yo’s newest chore has been sweeping the kitchen every night under dinner. It’s so wonderful when they can be useful around the house! :))) -Kelly

  9. Skye

    Dory thanks for the pin!

    Kelly and Patti, thank you so much, I’ve added some new ideas to my list.

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