Simple chore lists for little people

One thing I find super helpful around our house in the summer is a daily chore list for elementary and preschool children, customized for each child.

Forgive the slate filters. I had lots of issues with the color on these photos.

I know it looks like a whopper, but most of the tasks involve personal care, starting with Get Out of Bed. I like adding that one because it gives my kiddos a happy boost of something to cross off straightaway, a solid sense of starting out right. (Incidentally, I remember a particular day when getting out of bed was one of the bravest, and hardest, acts of my life.)

Then we Eat Breakfast, Get Dressed, Comb our Hair, little things like that. Each day has one Chore of Mom’s Choice. Older children have longer lists, things like Do Xtra Math and Feed the Cats.

No, I do not make my three-year-old wash the breakfast dishes every morning. For a while, she wanted to.

My main goal with this tool is to help children take ownership of their own affairs. I don’t want to be the one reminding them about tooth brushing and piano lessons. I want them, she said virtuously,* to acquire the self-starting skills they will need later in life.

*(She might’ve said it somewhat lazily as well. She prefers not to be driven crazy by issuing cues every five minutes.)

To make the chart, we drew a simple table in Microsoft Word, and inserted icons to match. Kids like picking the icons that match up with their chores. Options include cute silhouettes of pets and clothes and shapes – all kinds of things. Ryan started this type of chart with our son Regan, when he was small and having a hard time staying focused in his days. Letting him design the chart helped him gain buy-in, and feel proud of himself upon completion each day.

You’re welcome to use our template to start. Click here.

We slip the charts into ring-binder plastic sleeves, so the kids can check off their tasks with a dry erase marker each day, and wipe the chart clean the next. And we use sticky tack to hang them low, where small hands can reach them.

Within a few weeks, our current foster son went from {“I don’t know how to do it. Any of it.”} to {“I kinda like my chores. I’m proud of myself too.”}

In my book, that’s a win.

How do you transfer ownership of tasks to your children?

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5 years ago

Thank you for this simple but effective plan. This might actually work for me! What helps us is to 1) have a plan 2) communicate it to my people, ideally with a list or chart. This summer we made a plan, loose and simple, and communicated verbally, which really helped our summer sanity, I think. But all along I’ve been nagging myself to go ahead and write it down. I’m pretty disorganized, inconsistent, and unpredictable (well, maybe not that, actually), so I need all the help I can get!

5 years ago

My oldest is 4 and I am going to try this with her. 🙂 I had no clue so far how to start.
Thank you!

5 years ago

Thanks so much for the chore chart idea! I’ve been needing to do one for my 2 girls and just didn’t know where to start. This looks simple and like it would work great.

Aimee Stauffer
4 years ago

If only simple lists meant that I would simply follow . . . I have the hardest time actually following through with lists and schedules and menus ????

4 years ago

What I want to know is how you keep your kids in bed till 8:00?

4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy

Oh no, ma’am. First, all times are approximations. Second, our family is split neatly into the Early Risers and the Lie A-Beds, neither of which rises exactly at 8. Eight (give or take) is when the early risers are required to start being productive. ???? The late risers are given a little flex, perhaps till nine, as I’m secretly in sympathy with them.

4 years ago

This makes my head hurt because I am so done with chore lists and keeping people on tasks.

And for the record, you’re one of the best people I know at making good chore lists for your kids and sticking to them.

I don’t know why, but it seems I have missed several posts of yours recently.

I wish I would stop making disconnected, random comments.

[…] shared our chore charts earlier in the summer. They worked extremely well for us, unlike some of my chore list ideas. The […]

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