There is a quote about chores that goes like this:
“I like hugs and I like kisses, But what I really love is help with the dishes!” (Author Unknown)
Any parent would agree with the abovementioned quote, too, and would certainly rejoice whenever there are extra helping hands around the house — especially if those hands belonged to their own kids.
More than lending Daddy and/or Mommy a hand though, children who do chores stand to learn a lot of things while they’re “at work.”
Educator and mom of three Myra Mabugat-Menguito says, “Allowing children to do house chores truly opens a doorway for much learning.” She herself gives her three children — ages 16, 11 and 7 — opportunities to help out at home from an early age.
“When we had no helper for six months, our children had a wide array of chores to do — from mopping to dusting; from setting the table to washing the dishes; as well as cooking and being my ‘assistants’ and ‘cheerers’ whenever I did the laundry,” she shares.
If you’re wondering what your kids can actually learn from doing chores, check out this list below:
1. They learn to be independent. When we trust our children with certain tasks, such as sweeping the floor or washing the dishes, they will eventually learn the value of doing things on their own.
In the beginning, younger kids will require parental guidance and supervision as they go about their work, but once they’ve gotten used to it, you can let them do their chores independently. This will benefit them later on, especially when they reach adulthood and decide to start a family of their own.
Tip: It might help to make a chore chart or a daily task list for each family member, so that your kids will know what is expected of them — plus, you won’t need to nag them to do their assigned chores.
2. They learn to respect and value their gifts. Francesca Besinga-Sarmiento, a family and life missionary and educator, says children who do chores, particularly those who are trained to take care of their books, toys and personal items, learn to “respect and value the gifts/blessings given to them.”
Indeed, when children learn the value of their own belongings, they learn to be grateful for whatever they have.
Tip: Teach your child from a young age about the value of taking care of their belongings, and show them how to “pack away” their things, too. Singing a special “pack away” song usually helps, too.
3. They learn to be good stewards of the environment. Besinga-Sarmiento encourages parents to teach their kids to clean up after themselves after they have made a mess. “Kids learn to take care of their surroundings and be good stewards of creation this way,” she adds.
This is something that should be encouraged even if there are yayas or helpers at home who can clean up after the kids.
Tip: Make cleaning up after their own messes part of your kid’s daily “routine.” For example, if he uses a drinking glass, remind him to place it in the sink afterwards. If he is old enough, he can also wash the glass, or whatever item he used.
Mabugat-Menguito says of the time her children were her main “helpers” at home: “I could say that the children learned so much about the difference between dirty and clean, about hygiene and sanitation. Doing chores made them contribute to being good stewards of resources entrusted to them by God.”
4. They learn basic skills. Mabugat-Menguito says, “Basic chores such as folding blankets, tidying their bedroom and packing away toys not only allows kids to appreciate that they are blessed to have a home, they also learn about different textures, colors, and shapes, too. The senses truly come alive!”
I can personally attest to this — my children have learned many of the basic skills they need at school (such as counting, sorting colors, cutting, addition and so on) just by helping out with simple household tasks like sorting laundry and cooking.
Tip: If you have older kids, they can learn basic Home Economics skills too, like how to handle a budget (give them a certain amount of money and have them do the groceries), or how to prepare a meal from scratch (assign them one meal a week, e.g. Saturday dinner).
5. They learn to be responsible. Besinga-Sarmiento says that allowing children to do chores around the house teaches them the values of “discipline and obedience.”
“Early on, if they become used to listening and carrying out what their parents or elders tell them, that can help them become good and responsible followers in the future,” she explains. “They can also learn to budget their time and manage their day-to-day schedule if the chores are established as routine tasks.”
Tip: Teach your children to budget their time by asking them to help you set a daily schedule for them. E.g. After coming home from school, there is a set time for doing homework, resting, doing chores (even just one or two will suffice), etc.
6. They learn to value themselves and others. Mabugat-Menguito says involving her own kids in household chores made them see “the value of simple household management; the value of our kasambahays; the value of good health in order to have functioning bodies; the value of togetherness; and most of all, the essence of praying and faith life as our family’s anchor of love, strength and joy.”
Connected to what was mentioned earlier, too, kids who do chores usually end up being more ‘grounded’ than kids who don’t. They also learn to think more of others, and focus less on themselves and their own needs/wants.
Tip: Give your child numerous opportunities to help out at home and extend this to other places as well. Reading books about inspiring people who spent their lives helping other people helps, too.
7. They learn the value of serving others. When we involve kids in simple tasks around the house, we are giving them the opportunity to be of service to others, i.e. everyone in the household. This can have a ‘ripple effect’ — you initially start at home, then move on to serving others outside the home, e.g. at school, in your barangay or village, etc.
Tip: Explain to your children that doing chores is one way to serve God and help others. Let them see you ‘serving’ too — at home, in your community and elsewhere.
8. They learn that they are capable of doing something worthwhile. This may sound a bit too ‘philosophical’ but it’s true — when our kids are able to accomplish something, even the most ‘mundane’ of chores, it will do wonders for their self-esteem. They will come away knowing that they can do something that is beneficial to all — because we all know that a cleaner, more organized home is always a good thing, right?
Besinga-Sarmiento adds, “Doing chores will also help kids become efficient and diligent workers. Basically, what it teaches is the process of becoming disciplined, obedient and hardworking. In the end, the feeling of having accomplished what was expected of them will be reward enough.”
Tip: Encourage your child to do his chores and praise him when he does so without being forced to. If he doesn’t do his task well, affirm him anyway for his effort.
At the end of the day, what matters most is how we parents model the ‘greatness’ behind doing chores. As they say, values are easier caught than taught. If we want our children to be hardworking, responsible and selfless, we must show them how to be so by our own example.