Kids are messy and with mess comes house work. From vacuuming crumbs off the floor to dealing with a never-ending pile of laundry, there are always jobs to be done.

Assigning kids regular chores not only helps you out but it also benefits your child developmentally by learning new skills and the importance of contributing to family life.

Here’s how to choose the right job for the right age.

12-month-olds: Great imitators


SKILL: Grasp and release

IDEAL CHORES: Picking up toys to drop in a bin; smoothing bed covers, sweeping – by imitating

18-month-olds: Can’t do everything they think they can

DEVELOPMENT MILESTONE: Problem solving; new attention span

SKILL: Strength and coordination

IDEAL CHORES: Serving from a tray; watering a garden, washing produce; helping to feed or groom a pet; using a mechanical carpet sweeper

2-year-olds: Routine and ritual are very important

DEVELOPMENT MILESTONE: Increased hand-eye coordination and concentration

SKILL: Following directions, sorting

IDEAL CHORES: Spreading butter or cheese; dusting, sweeping, wiping a counter, washing windows; sorting laundry, silverware, toys; washing, stirring, mashing food

Sweeping encourages hand-eye coordination and concentration.

3-year-olds: Work is still play

DEVELOPMENT MILESTONE: More awareness of significance of help

SKILL: Sorting and arranging

IDEAL CHORES: Setting the table; using kitchen gadgets, with supervision: sifter, rolling pin, cheese grater, mortar and pestle; planting, weeding, raking, digging, arranging garden flowers; pouring tasks

4-year-olds: Love anything new and relish their independence

DEVELOPMENT MILESTONE: Increased precision; increased sense of responsibility

SKILL: Making things; taking things apart and putting them back together

IDEAL CHORES: Using still more gadgets: peeler, pitter, slicer, food mill, juicer, whisk, even – with close supervision – a true paring knife; hanging washing on a line, neatly folding dry clothes; simple, supervised woodworking

5-year-olds: Like to please

DEVELOPMENT MILESTONE: Sense of confidence; expanded curiosity about how things in the house work

SKILL: Understanding what a job is; tackling even uninteresting jobs

IDEAL CHORES: Big supervised jobs, such as vacuuming or taking out the garbage; behind-the-scenes jobs, such as removing the vacuum bag or coming along to the dump.

6-year-olds: Full of energy and enthusiasm


SKILL: Beginning reading and maths

IDEAL CHORES: Measuring – for recipes, pet food, laundry soap; reading to a younger sibling; noticing what needs to be done, and helping out.