I’ve written other articles about how to engage kids ages 2-3 in housework and self care because for them it’s just play, and how to use pretend play to begin teaching kids ages 4-5 some important life skills. By ages 6-9, your kids can start to really make contributions to the family that are helpful and that matter. It’s time to help them understand this, teach them to master these tasks to do them as well as an adult, and help them feel proud of their contributions. Think of it as beginning the training they’ll need to do all the way up until age 18 when it’s time for them to move out and take care of themselves and their own household. There’s a lot they need to learn still!
It’s also important for everyone in a household to understand that they can and should contribute to the household. If they eat, or wear clothes, or use the bathroom, then they can participate (as much as they are able) in providing that food or cleaning the things they use.
Some of these tasks may be easy for kids in this age range, some may be new or difficult for them to master at first. The key is always patience. You should also meet your kids where they are, and help them ease into each of these as they’re ready.
As a last bit of incentive to introduce these life skills to your kids at age 6, trust me that they will be more receptive to learning these tasks, and even excited about showing they can do them, than they will be at age 15!
Here is how you can approach each of these tasks with your 6-9 year old kids:
- Vacuuming: I’ve had feedback from another of people that 6 years old is too young to vacuum, or they felt like this was a task for mom rather than kids. It turns out, though, that it really doesn’t take a lot of special skills to do it well. Teach your kids to vacuum and save moms of the world from being considered the only one skilled enough to do it! Your 8 or 9 year old can be in charge of vacuuming their own room at a minimum. If you let them start even younger, a 6-year-old will think getting to use the vacuum themselves is pretty exciting. Way more exciting than a 15-year-old will, so take advantage of the 6-year-old excitement to teach them how to do this job right.
- Fold laundry: Everyone wears clothes, and your kids will look better if they learn how to fold laundry instead of stuff it in a corner. Think of it as making sure they’ll be ready for an eventual job interview!
- Sweep the floor: Kids younger than 6 can manage a broom, but probably not very effectively. By age 6 or so, they can start to actually make the floor cleaner instead of just moving around the dirt.
- Clean counters: Personally I found that this task worked best when kids were cleaning up a cooking project or a mess they were involved in making. Get your kids cooking, and then show them the best techniques for cleaning up afterwards. Double bonus, they’ll learn to not make such a mess when they cook to save themselves the cleanup work later.
- Empty dishwasher: This is an excellent task for kids as long as you trust them not to drop the dishes. Sometimes mine couldn’t reach all the cabinets so they would leave those items on the counter for us, but there were plenty of things they could reach. If your kids eat, and can carry things, then they can help with the process of keeping the dishes clean.
- Help cook: Kids this age can wash produce, find ingredients, and even do some simple cutting (check these lists for cooking skills that even younger kids can do). I will write a blog post later this year about all the things kids can do in the kitchen and what a wealth of learning opportunities there are when cooking with kids.
- Get mail: When your kid is ready for this will depend on the placement of your mailbox. This is generally an excellent and very independent task for kids to take on, and it’s often one they enjoy.
- Rake leaves: Just like with sweeping, kids younger than this can try this task, but somewhere in this age range they’ll actually be able to be good at it. It’s good exercise, they’ll get lots of fresh air, and someday they’ll have their own house and they’ll fondly remember all the autumns they spent out in the yard with you!
Here are ideas of what age kids can start to try all sorts of different chores. You can use these ideas to create your own chore charts using The Trip Clip.