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Mailbag: Chores vs. Homework?

Mailbag Mondays: Our answers to readers' questions
Hi, Jennifer.

[In reference to you chore chart for children], maybe there is a difference – with kids that go to school and those that are homeschooled

My kids get up at 6:15, get to school at 7, get home at 2:45pm, and we have a snack and sit down and do homework – because it has to be signed off on every night. My 2 kids are only in Kindergarten and 2nd grade – and I need to supervise their homework.

It takes about 1 1/2 hours – so now we are at 4:30 and they are hungry – so we eat around 5, then they have 1 hour to play – then it’s time for baths – and in bed by 8pm.

My kids are exhausted. They don’t say it – but I see it in their eyes. I would not ask them to do anything other than picking up their own messes. A child’s room is a mess – everyday – so keeping their room neat, and cleaning up after themselves – is enough for me…

Maybe teenagers are required to do things, but I’m NOT sorry for letting my kids be kids.



You bring up a very good point, Susan.

Children who school away from home are gone for most of the day and often have an unconscionable amount of homework to do once they return. I can understand why you would hesitate to burden your already exhausted children with more routine chores.

I think my own mother must have felt the same way, as she always insisted that my most important “job” growing up was studying hard and making good grades. My childhood home was always immaculate, no thanks to me.

I realize (now) that it was probably easier to keep a place spotless when the family members who live there spend so few waking hours at home; nevertheless, I am ashamed as an adult that I did so little to during my childhood and (especially) teenage years to lighten the load for my own working mother. I might at least have rinsed out the dishes from my after-school snacks and loaded them into the dishwasher, but that was not my habit.

Even so, my transition to married life might have been a little smoother had I already learned how to do laundry, load (and run) a dishwasher, and prepare a few simple meals. Teaching children to do basic household chores does not detract from their education — it adds to it.

Doing chores builds their confidence, promotes a strong work ethic, and equips them to tackle even bigger responsibilities in the future.

And here’s one more reason to train them while they’re young: Studies show that children who are required to do chores fare better when they leave home. “The best predictor of young adults’ success in their mid-20’s was that they participated in household tasks when they were three or four.” (source)

Of course, it takes time and effort to train young children to complete household tasks, and they may not do the job as quickly or thoroughly as you could do it yourself. I understand that.

But I don’t think you can logically argue that asking a child to spend a few minutes making his bed or setting the table is somehow robbing him of his childhood — especially when the same child is required to sit at a desk doing paperwork for eight to ten hours a day.

He may indeed be missing out, but chores are not the culprit.

Age Appropriate Chores for Children | a free printable chart from flandersfamily.info
[click on image to print]

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