Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pre-School Chore Chart

My husband and I want our kids to learn the value of work early in their lives. The "Entitlement" mentality is so pervasive in our culture, and so absolutely poisonous that we want to do anything we can to fight it. One of the things we're doing is starting the kids out with some simple, achievable chores while they're still pre-school aged. And, because we also want them to learn the value of money, some of these chores are paid.

I know, there are at least as many as schools of thought on the subject of allowance, chores, and kids as there are parents, but this is our very basic breakdown:
Basic Individual Responsibilities are unpaid. These include things like picking up toys, getting clothes into the laundry baskets, clearing their dirty dishes, etc.
Chores that benefit the Whole Family are paid. Some examples are vacuuming common areas, emptying the dishwasher, emptying the dryer, feeding the cat, etc.
Admittedly, there are some grey, ambiguous areas. Setting the table benefits the whole family, but we do not pay for it. Vacuuming bedrooms will probably be a paid chore. Our choices will undoubtedly evolve over time, and I'm not at all sure that the specifics are as critical as they seem up front. If our children simply learn (a) work is necessary, (b) work can have very positive benefits, (c) money is earned by work and therefore should be spent carefully, I think we will have succeeded.

That, of course, is not what I set out to blog. I actually just wanted to share the simple chore chart that has been working for our three and four year olds for the last year.

I printed this chart, laminated it, and hung it on our magnet board. (Fair disclosure: I did not make the clip-art images, nor go to much trouble to make sure they were intended to be free. Use as your conscience dictates!)
Also on our magnet board are these nifty dry erase markers with magnetic lids. Each time a chore is completed, the child selects his or her color of marker and fills in one of the pieces of money next to the chore he or she just did.
At the end of the week (or, frankly, whenever it starts to fill up and we remember to do it!), Daddy adds up what each child has earned and pays up.  The money goes straight to the piggy banks, where - for the moment - most of it is being saved. What happens next is a topic for another post. :)

For the record, here is a list of the chores our kids are doing now:

  • Emptying the dishwasher (of silverware and their plastic dishes). $0.25
  • Emptying the dryer and cleaning the lint trap. $0.10
  • Vacuuming or sweeping. $0.25/room. 
  • Cleaning doorknobs and light switches (with vinegar) $0.25/zone
  • Feeding the cat. $0.05/time 
* The kids need a lot of help with vacuuming and sweeping, of course.  We have a light battery-operated vacuum, but it's not super effective. My oldest (nearly 5) can handle the big vacuum to a certain extent, but I certainly have to help moving it from place to place, plugging it in, etc. Sweeping is something both are willing to Try, but neither is actually very good at. 
This brings up another point that is worth emphasizing (Hey, self, I'm talking to YOU!). 
At this stage in our lives, it will always be MORE WORK for your kids to "HELP" with the chores than it is to do them ourselves! 
I admit it: the kids rarely do the dishwasher chore right now. I haven't got it in me to interrupt myself in the middle of the empty-and-reload task that seems to need doing 24 hours a day, but mostly at breakfast time when the kids are legitimately busy eating. And that's OK: I'm not going to make a religion of this chore thing! 
On the other hand, we're training the kids for independence and responsibility here. It is harder right now, but by the time they're 8 or 10, many of these chores can be done solo. That's the payoff we're working for! 

Finally, a couple of resources:
First, here are Dave Ramsey's thoughts on chores and allowance
Second, here's a list I've seen many places of age-appropriate chores for kids.

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