What responsibilities are appropriate for your child's age? Your child may be ready for some jobs earlier or later than suggested, and you will probably think of chores beyond those listed here. Each child is unique. We must educate a child according to his way, catering to his abilities. The pleasure of accomplishment for the child who masters various skills is invaluable for his or her growth and development.

A house is a "small Temple," a place where the Divine presence rests. Keeping house with that in mind elevates the mundane tasks and makes them more meaningful.

Two-year-old kids can already be trained to undress themselves, pick up toys, put their pajamas away and clear their plates from the table.

At four and five, children can be taught to dress themselves, wash their face and hands, brush their teeth, put their dirty clothes in the hamper.

At six, they can graduate from "self" tasks to "others" tasks, with jobs such as setting the table, wiping up a spill, dusting furniture, picking stuff off the floor and putting them away.

At seven, they can already learn to sweep the floors, hang up clothes, put away folded laundry, spot clean walls, vacuum, load a dishwasher.

At age eight and nine, they can clean and trim nails, pack school lunches, organize their own drawers, fold laundry, wash and dry dishes.

At ten, eleven and twelve, they can be taught to scramble eggs, bake a simple cake, prepare fruits and vegetables, polish silverware and take telephone messages.

Motivation will make the difference between a child doing his task with a cheerful, smiling face or a sullen, angry one. Here are some incentives you can try:

  • Racing – "Let's see if you can clean your room faster than I clean the kitchen." Set the timer and try to beat it.
  • Make it fun by playing a children's tape while they work. Challenge them to finish their job before the song is over.
  • Sing while they work… "Who will pack away… Leslie packs away… Leslie has a mitzvah, a mitzvah today…"
  • Remember to give positive encouragement. Catch your child doing something right.
  • Avoid negative labels; censure the job, never the worker. Let the child judge his or her own work.
  • Be generous with rewards. They can range from positive recognition to stickers, to a favorite dessert, to playing a game with Mommy, a story, or placing a call to Grandma.
  • Be creative. For dusting, make a puppet out of an old sock. Add a funny nose, mouth and eyes.
  • Avoid attaching jobs to every pending privilege.
  • Pay for jobs with play money and then hold an auction.
  • Hide coins around a room to encourage thoroughness.

Charts are fun and functional. The advantage is that the child knows what is expected.

  • Build a weekly assignment chart so kids can easily review their tasks.
  • Make a "to do" list with pictures for the young child to cross off bedtime chores.
  • Place a morning chores chart in the kitchen so it can be easily referred to.
  • Use a circular chore chart to rotate jobs.
  • Screw hooks into a board and hang assignments written on marker tags.
  • Use checks, stars, stickers, or even jellybeans to reward each completed job. Keep them stapled to the chart, so they are handy. Even a bag of jellybeans can be stapled on.
  • Allow the children to place their own check, star, sticker, or jellybean on the chart.
  • Make a pie chart. One piece of pie can be earned each day. Fill a whole pie, and offer an reward.