16 Mar 'Clean up, clean up, Everybody everywhere!'
by Brittany Gilbert
Chores can be a crucial developmental tool for children and go a long way in helping parents with the workload of maintaining a home.
Many checklists can be found all over the Internet to help assign chores according to ages and abilities. Just check Pinterest. You will find creative ways to incorporate children into daily chores and spring-cleaning. These resources can be very useful and even fun when you set up a system with charts and rewards. However, there are greater benefits than just teaching your children how to clean and keeping them occupied.
Developing motor skills. Sweeping, mopping, cleaning counters, folding laundry and matching socks are all examples of how chores can help with both sensory and gross motor skills. A 5-year-old can help match socks, and this helps with not only cognitive development, but also sensory motor skills through the use of small muscles, such as those in fingers, to fold the socks. Simple yard and garden chores can help build gross motor skills, which include the use of large muscles, such as arms and legs.
Responsibility and being part of “the team.” Your child can feel ownership and thus take better care of belongings and their home. They begin to understand the care and attention that it takes to keep a house clean. Chores can help develop a sense of “family” when children see the effort that goes in to keeping a house clean and the type of teamwork that it requires.
Payment/allowance and saving. This is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it; some parents choose to pay their children, and some do not. One benefit in paying a child for chores instead of simply giving an allowance is teaching them about work ethic. I have even seen parents of teenagers who put a dollar amount on specific chores, and their children can pick how they want to be paid. Paying a child for their work is also an opportunity to teach them about giving and/or tithing. Most children who see their parents give or tithe want to be involved somehow. When I was little, I would ask my parents for money to put in the offering plate. It’s a lot different when it’s your money, though, and is often a valuable lesson in the reason why we give.
Maybe you don’t want to pay your children to do chores, and that’s fine, too, but you want to encourage, not force them to do the work. Creative charts with stickers for finishing a task are also fun for children and help them follow through.
There are fun ways to get children involved in chores. In our house, we like to sing the “clean up” song. Most daycares and schools sing this song, and chances are your child already knows it. We can’t sing the song without our son going to pick up a toy and put it up without realizing what he’s doing.
The older your child gets, the more important chores become, not only for the management of a home, but also for the growth of the person. Chores help develop a sense of involvement and self-worth.
Brittany Gilbert is a FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.