I thought I was finished writing about the importance of chores – teaching children responsibility, showing them that you can work together to function as a family unit – and then I received another email that brought to light a great fact about chores:
They can be used to teach higher level thinking skills!
This is something I hadn’t considered prior to reading the email. In fact, as I assigned chores I did so on a “what needs to be done and what can they do” basis, rather than by what chores might help what skills they needed to develop.
Mike and Renee Mosiman, authors of “The Smarter Preschooler: Unlocking Your Child’s Intellectual Potential,” say that chores can, ” . . . help develop memory, planning skills, sequential thinking, and classification abilities . . . ”
Consider this: A child who takes out the garbage must remember when it goes to the curb. Also, children who do tasks that require multiple steps (washing the dishes or the car) need to recall what steps come first, second, third and so on in order to complete the task. This helps to improve memory skills.
In addition, teaching organization skills could really enhance this area for those kids (like I was!) who can’t remember anything. For instance, set up a calendar in your child’s room to show what things are coming up (school dances, carnival, fair) and then on the day the garbage goes out (or the car has to be washed, or whatever regular chore needs to be completed) write in that task. This teaches the child to use visual reminders when doing a task.
Those children doing tasks like washing the dishes must learn to do things in a particular order (water in the sink, adding detergent, washing, rinsing, drying, putting away). Following recipes (helping with cooking) is another task that involves sequential steps. This must be done before that – and if it is not, the task will not be completed correctly.
In addition, some tasks require children to really do some planning for the day. If you are a teenager that mows the lawn each Saturday on the summer weekends, you need to consider at what time you will complete your chore, and this may change from weekend to weekend.
For instance, if you are a teenager who mows the lawn and also has an event to attend on the same day, you’ll need to faction that in to the equation before beginning your task. Even younger children must learn to prioritize: when to do homework, when to do the chores.
For this reason, parents should not expect children to drop their chore on the day of a big event, because this teaches the child methods for multitasking and preparing for more than one thing at a time. It gives them the ability to understand setting priorities (mowing the lawn) and making those fit into their schedule that might include additional bonus activities (a dance, a movie night, a game).