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Chore chart for preschoolers

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About Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

We recently started a regular chore routine with our three-year-old. Thanks to your input, we came up with a reasonable list of things, and she’s slowly starting to accomplish them on her own.

I couldn’t find a chore chart I liked on the internet, so I created my own. It’s very simple, and the original idea came from a good friend of mine.

Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge):
chore_chart.jpg

The chores we’ve started with are:

  • help make my bed
  • empty silverware from the dishwasher
  • take my dishes to the kitchen (after breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and
  • pick up my toys (before her quiet time and before her bed time)

When she accomplishes a task, she gets a sticker in the alloted square for that day. At the end of the week, we count up her stickers. For every sticker, she gets a nickel (well, this country’s equivalent of a nickel).

She has three jars to put her money – one for giving, one for saving, and one for spending. 10 percent goes into each of the first two, and the remaining 80 percent goes into her spending jar. If she does every single chore for every single day (which she has yet to do), she’d earn $2.45 a week. That’s $127.45 for the year. 80 percent of that is $101.96. Not bad spending money for a three-year-old, I’d say.

A simple chore chart for preschoolers (free PDF download).

So far, this system is working beautifully. She’s excited to do her chores because she likes getting to pick out which sticker she puts on her chart, and at the end of the week, we count out each nickel one by one. For the concrete, visual processors that preschoolers are, the pile of coins is thrilling.

I’ve made a generic Preschool Chore Chart for you to download for free. I tried to include as many typical chores a preschooler might have around the house, but if you don’t see ones you’d like, you can easily add your own.

Download the Chore Chart here.

What do your kids do around the house? Do you have a reward system?

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Comments

  1. I love this and have downloaded it! Thank you!

    My almost 4 year old sweeps our deck, puts her dishes away, picks up toys and makes her bed. No reward system yet, but I think that’s coming soon – maybe around her 4th birthday.

    I love your system! Thanks for sharing!

  2. @Emily – Isn’t it a fun age when they think it’s fun to clean? I love it.

  3. An interesting idea—you certainly haven’t lost any time instilling the principles of financial management! Question: Do you remind your child about each chore when it’s time to do them, or does she have to remember herself? I take it that the only consequence for not accomplishing a chore is forfeiting the right to a sticker and the corresponding nickel.

    I look forward to reading about the reasons behind your reward system, as I have been thinking a little about intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation in the socialization of young school-age children. Motivation is a tricky thing—you’d like them to do something because they enjoy the thing itself (like you said to Emily, it’s great when they think cleaning is fun—I sure wish I still enjoyed cleaning), but at some point this isn’t enough and you have to provide a reward to encourage/teach good behavior/habits—then eventually they get hooked on rewards, and the extrinsic motivator has all but killed the intrinsic motivation. It’s a conundrum, I think.

    • My thoughts on the reward for encouraging good behavior/completion of chores. I come to work every day. If I show up and my work is satisfactory, I get a paycheck – a reward for completing my work. I don’t think giving children an allowance for completing tasks is a bad idea because that’s the basic principle of our lifestyles – go to work, earn money. Why can’t it start as children doing little tasks around home like the ones on this chart.

      I missed the answer to your question about being prompted or having to remember the tasks. Better keep reading.

  4. I remember loving the chart when I was little. I wonder about the motivation factors too. When children are older (and not so fond of cleaning) will they pitch in whenever something is needed, or will they only do the things that have been assigned to them and come with payment? I do think a chart can be invaluable though since they can see it and do things without moms having to remind them.

    SmallNotebooks last blog post..Before the Trip Checklist

  5. @Michael, Rachel/Small Notebook – Motivation is a tricky one. I’m not too worried about my daughter right now because she was completely psyched about cleaning before we introduced the chore chart. She was constantly following me, wanting to help, asking for a cleaning rag or sponge. So I just went with it.

    I definitely remind her, and I actually help her with them. After breakfast, I say in an excited voice, “Okay, it’s time to do your chores!” After I ask her to take her plate to the kitchen, we go to her room, “make” her bed (pull the covers up) together, and then go back to the kitchen where she unloads the silverware basket while I empty the rest of the dishwasher. So we really do everything together.

    I don’t think this is killing any intrinsic motivation yet – we’ll cross that bridge when she’s a bit older. Oh, I also ask her to do other stuff throughout the day – get me a diaper when I’m changing her brother, put the napkins on the table for a meal, bring me things here and there – and she doesn’t get a sticker for those. It’s just part of being in this home, this family.

    Right now, I just want to take advantage of the opportunity to teach basic money skills.

    • “Oh, I also ask her to do other stuff throughout the day – get me a diaper when I’m changing her brother, put the napkins on the table for a meal, bring me things here and there – and she doesn’t get a sticker for those. It’s just part of being in this home, this family.”

      Good point! That’s something that is important for me when teaching my children responsibility. Sometimes it’s just part of being a family.

  6. I tried something like this with my older son. But, being the “over the top” kind of person that I am I took it too far, made it too complicated, and it, naturally failed. Maybe I can try again with a simpler approach.

  7. @Daisy – You can probably guess I’m a fan of simple. ;)

  8. Yes, these are the days when my kids *like* to clean and clamor the for the dust rag and ask to wash the windows and sweep the deck :)

    I’ll ride it out as long as they’ll let me.

    Emilys last blog post..A Kitchen Full of Window Mistreatments

  9. Oh, pick me, pick me! My single-digit son has been “forgetting” to bring in his homework, so yesterday I banned him from his computer until he came up with a solution. ‘course, I then sat with him and walked him thru how making a list is a great help!

    Result? “Mom, that takes too much time.” So instead of forcing the issue, I figure I’ll wait for him to ask for the computer again and ask to see his work solution. Eventually, I’m sure, it will get thru his little tiny biggle brain, say, before he’s high school valedictorian. :)

    Barbara

    Barbara Lings last blog post..Today’s Words of Wisdom – 4 Simple Steps Anyone Can Do For Mega Publicity

  10. My son isn’t much of a kitchen and indoor chores kinda kid, but he does have pet duty, and he helps wash the car (although that’s more of a treat for him than a chore!) and some small errands around the house.

    PreSchool Mamas last blog post..PreSchool Spring Activity: Make Your Own Sundial

  11. We’ve had chore charts since my oldest was 2 years old. Now 6 and 4, the girls definitely know that it takes all of us working together to get things done. In addition to awarding stars after each chore and exchanging stars for money at the end of each week, we set a longer term goal with a reward for the whole family to enjoy together. For example after earning 150 stars, we take a trip to Chuck E Cheese usually bringing a cousin or a friend (this is the only time we go visit Chuck E). While they like earning their money, their favorite part is earning stars for our trip.

    Most days they don’t have to be reminded to make their bed, help clear the table or get the mail, but they do have to remind me to give them their star.

    Emilys last blog post..Now Reading: The Invention of Hugo Cabret

  12. My kids still think it is fun to clean too. I hope they hold on to that. My son is really good at taking out the room garbages. They are already in plastic bags, so he just has to pull them out and bring them to the kitchen. He also gets to hang his own clothes on hangers and fold his socks together. I think chores are great for kids, helping them learn new skills and responsibility. Great post.

    Maries last blog post..Live Caterpillars are Here

  13. Our almost four year old son used to enjoy helping to rinse the dishes off before putting them into the dishwasher, but he has already lost interest in that activity. Now he randomly will help with cleaning, putting the utensils back in the drawer or putting his laundry away. He still likes to help sweep, but mostly likes doing stuff outside with his dad, like washing the car or making mud pies.

    I have a star chart for him to earn stars for a movie or some other treat, sometimes it works with him and others it doesn’t. He seems to be pretty set in doing what he feels like doing. I suppose I should eventually make them chores that he is expected to do and offer spare change as an incentive as he gets older :)

    Patty, mamastimeout.com hosts last blog post..Win up to $100 this week only!

  14. we really struggled with the allowance vs. payment for chores debate. in the end, we ended up just giving a certain amount every week, totally separate from any work done. I really like one readers comment about the star chart for chores, and then doing something fun as a family once 150 are collected- seems to create a teamwork/encouraging one another attitude. we did a star chart for a while (until it wasn’t needed as much, although we might think about going back) at bedtime, giving stars to each child if they didn’t get up or call out once they were tucked in for the night. at the end of the week (saturday night), if they had 6 stars, they could stay up 30 minutes late:) worked pretty well.

    kerins last blog post..travel antics

  15. I love this idea. I have a four year old and she loves to help around the house so I haven’t really had to motivate her but I like the idea of the chart for some additional tasks that she does struggle with (like cleaning in her room).
    So far her daily tasks are taking her dishes to the kitchen, taking her dirty clothes/pjs to the laundry basket, feeding her fish (she also helps with the other pets but not exclusively), picking up toys. She loves to help with the silverware and washing some dishes, folding washrags and other cleaning stuff so that is nice.
    I also like some of the other ideas that commenters posted such as a big “treat” after so many stickers that the whole family can participate in. Very positive reinforcement.

    Darcys last blog post..The First Cut is the Deepest

  16. I like the idea of doing something as a family as well! Good plan.

  17. Great chart! I’ve downloaded – I’ll link back to you.

    De’Etta @ Choosing Joys last blog post..

  18. Neat chart! We’ve made similar ones for other things (ie. staying in bed all night) for our toddler. Maybe we’re ready to graduate to chores! Thank you for the download!

    Colleens last blog post..Works for Me Wednesday

  19. Thanks for the idea. I have an almost three year old and I’m going to implement your chore chart and ways of dividing the money – how great to be also teaching about giving and saving.

    Sarah Maes last blog post..So Funny!

  20. Love your chore chart! I have 6 children; but only 3 still at home (ages 6, 7 & 9) and they make their own beds, clean their bedrooms, and can dust, vacuum, sweep, mop, take out trash, clean the litterbox, feed the cats and dogs, set the table, empty the dishwasher, microwave simple foods, make their own sandwiches, etc.. and I just began their laundry training in earnest – they are learning to sort, load and start the washer/dryer, fold and then put it all away. We need to delve more into actual cooking – and we intend to work on that more this summer and to teach them about meal planning, grocery shopping and letting them start to plan and prepare meals for our family.

    I just got around to blogging about our system, even though we’ve been using it for a few months now.

    Tracis last blog post..Chore Chart system

  21. I just came across your blog and am so excited to give this a try. I’ve been trying to think of a way to encourage the save/share/spend idea instead of just giving change to be put into the piggy bank. Great idea.

    mollys last blog post..Bumbleberry Pie

  22. I just came across your blog and love some of your ideas, our 3 yr olds main chore is folding washclothes and dish towels, this is strictly her job and she does it. Sometimes the washcloths are folded in the shapes of boats and sometimes they are triangles. I just let her use her imagination as long as she does her job!! Does it really matter how they are folded as long as they are done??? We have different charts for different things. We have a star chart for cooperation on school mornings for special treats. Charts work well for us!!

    Thanks

    Cindy’s last blog post…Allie making cookies!!!

  23. avatar
    EllsBells says:

    I love this idea. We include chores such as putting your dirty dish in the sink after each meal and picking up the bedroom (which is the playroom) before dinner is served. I am not paying her to hold her own. I tell her that these are her jobs (and a age 4 she is thrilled). I said these are things that she needs to do just because. I do not want her to think that I will ever pay her. I will buy her what she needs/wants (to an extent) and she can earn more at a later time by doing above and beyond. I never want her to tell me she will not do it. If I have always paid her then I have no leverage. No chores, no pay, who cares. No way, not in my home … you just do it!

  24. Ah! The wonders of the internet! I have been wondering about reasonable chores and thought of blogging about it. But why, when you have already done the work! Thanks for the chore chart. We need something more concrete than spoken expectations around here (and I need some gentle reminding of what I expect them to do)

    Renata´s last blog post…Making peace with motherhood

  25. Am I understanding correctly that one of these need to be printed and prepared weekly? I think a monthly chart would be more time efficient, but I still like the idea of tallying and paying weekly. We will do our payout on Saturdays so our daughter (3) can set aside for giving on Sunday.

  26. Very cute idea/concept! My oldest is 3 and we do chores, but I’m not as rigid with doing them everyday. But I do set my foot down to have her help with picking up toys. Other than that.. I encourage all the time. Typically she wants to mirror mommie :)

  27. Just discovered your blog (via Ali E), and love your chart—if only I had a few years back. My oldest (now 7) really need the visual reminders, especially for morning routine before school. I didn’t like any of the charts I saw, so we made one —taking photos of him doing each chore. He liked that part, and was into the sticker rewards. He had to have so many stickers in order to pick a movie on Friday nights. We haven’t tied allowance to chores.

    My soon-to-be 4 yr old hasn’t used a chart yet—he loves cleaning and because of his big brother’s example, rarely needs reminders to make his bed, etc. At least it all gets easier!

    But I’m still downloading your chart in case he needs when he starts school! Thanks.

    Deirdre´s last blog post…Karen, Shriners, and a request

  28. avatar
    SherrySam says:

    I’ve found that the virtual chore chart works for me. I use a site called Handipoints chore charts to make printables and it’s really been fun so far!

  29. Gret great tool! I will use this for my daughter! :) thanks so much for sharing!

    ED Blogger´s last blog post…Children’s Day in China today

  30. Link to chore chart not working.

    RookieMom Heather´s last blog post…Activity #54: Take 1-2-3 pictures

  31. *sniff* I get a 404 when trying to look at the screen shot link!!

  32. Hi,
    What a great idea and download – I’ve printed it off and will get to using it later today. Currently my 8 year old feeds the dogs and that’s about it. My fault I know. We did invent a similar chart a year or so ago when we were having trouble with him at school but now he’s so good I let him off doing most things. I think he would like some pocket money though so this will be a good way to teach him some value to working.
    Cheers, Chloe

    Chloe Alice Wilson´s last blog post…Why Eating Bogeys Is Good For You

  33. avatar
    David Coutcher says:

    i get a 404 error when trying to download the chore chart…=(
    Please help!

  34. I’m searching for a job chart and got the 404 error as well :(

  35. The download should be working now! :)

  36. Thank you so much! I think I found what I’m looking for !

  37. avatar
    Jannette Simmons says:

    I really love this sistem it’s helping me a lot!!!
    I loe simple mom, I wish I would know about it when I had my first baby 5 years ago….
    Wouldn’t be nice if you will translated it into spanish???

  38. I have finally decided it is time to look into “chores” for my ‘just turned’ 4 yr old and this is the first thing I came across and I have downloaded it and am very excited to get started tonight-Thank you for making it available and easily accessible for a mom who really needed some guidance in starting this journey ;) I look forward to keeping you updated on our progress.

  39. avatar
    David Coutcher says:

    Please help. I have tried to download the chore chart several times using Google Chrome, Firefox, and IE8…Nothing seems to work. The page just reloads itself. I even tried after you said the link should be fixed. I have tried saving to desktop as well…nothing! Can you please email the file??? Thank you so much!

    David

  40. We recently implemented a chore chart as well. Wish I’d seen this one before I did mine. I made mine as well ~ but instead of stars she gets to move the chore picture from needs done to the done column. I used this to help her get herself ready in the morning ~ clothes on and dirty clothes in the hamper as well as remembering to brush her teeth etc. We had some killer power struggles in the morning, and this seems to have taken me out of the equation and our mornings go much better. We set ours up in three different “time frames” before school, after school, and after dinner. Getting toys picked up before dinner was also a problem, but is going quite well now that it’s on the chart. She also sets the table and takes her dishes to the kitchen after she eats.

    We have extra fun time as a reward for getting chores done, not sure how she would respond to money ~ but I love the idea of the separate jars, so maybe we’ll figure out some way to add that in too.

    Thanks for more great ideas as always!
    .-= Jackie Lee´s last blog ..Vegetable Garden Planning =-.

  41. I’m looking for a good chart for allowance/chores and for some privileges like computer use for my 4 year old. I like the concept here but I can’t figure out exactly how to use it right?? Where do you put the stickers, so that one day might have 5 or so sttickers?

  42. Just wanted to put the idea on the table that there may be a “greener” way to do the chart…

    Instead of printing a bunch (although I appreciate that they may be recyclable), what about laminating one and attaching a washable marker to use and put Xs in the boxes?

    I haven’t tried it yet, but am planning on it. I would appreciate input from others who may have tried this, or reasons it wouldn’t seem to work as well…

    :)
    Sarah

  43. when do they stop getting paid for normal chores? i guess i think normal chores are rewarded with the verbal affirmation that they are part of our household team. i like jackie lee’s extra fun time. if our daughter refuses to do a particular chore (contribution), then i tell her i’ll do it for her. later, we don’t have time to read a story or sing a song before bed because i had to use our story time to do her job. i’ve only had to do that twice. an extra story or game is a nice idea if she does her job quickly with no grumbling.

  44. avatar
    Amanda Green says:

    I want to know why everyone feels they need to REWARD their child for completing their chores….Why can’t it just be REQUIRED? My son (age 3) has to do the 5 things listed on his chore chart everyday. If he doesn’t do them he gets in trouble. No nickle is given….no sticker is given. He gets a pencil and puts a check in the box when it’s done. I never grew up getting an allowance or getting stickers for good behavior. I don’t see the point in it. My son loves it when I say “way to go!” or “that looks great!” or “I’m so proud of you son!” Just a thought. :)

  45. avatar
    Kristin McCord says:

    I dont think EVERYONE feels the need to REWARD. If it works for you to not reward then, “yay you”! BUT, you are in fact rewarding his behavior with “Im so proud of you son”, “Way to go” and “That looks great” … Your type of reward are just self esteem builders that will go a long way in life. Other rewards serve the same purpose and also show value to them as they grow. I do feel though that if you’re consistent with which ever method you choose, “you” will reap the reward. Thanks for sharing this great easy chart!!

  46. We don’t reward our children for things they should be doing as a contributing member of a family. We split up the work and everyone is assigned a number of chores based on their age. If the chores are not completed there are consequences. I guess in our eyes it’s a small scale version of society and how we fit into it (and how our children will when they are adults). Society will not reward them for being responsible members of the community, for going to work, and obeying laws.

    • I just stumbled across this web page looking for a chart for my 2 year old. I think this is a great chart and system. I guess the reason I am writing anything at all here is to the people who say they don’t reward their children for doing chores, and what exactly are “consequences”? It sounds like negative reinforcement to me, which has been proven to be ineffective and possibly even detrimental to childhood development. Of course society rewards people for being productive members, salary and pay raises at work (ahem, part of principle behind this system!) , NOT getting to go to jail, admiration and respect, just to name a few. Would you rather have your child happy that they earned a couple of nickels, or scared stiff that if they don’t do something right they will have to face “CONSEQUENCES.” But hey, whatever floats your boat.

      • I only saw one person here say that they don’t reward their children at all. I would hope that even though they don’t give stickers or whatever that they would still give hugs or high fives or something. I saw people, including myself, say that they don’t PAY their children for regular chores. When they grow up they will get paid for doing their job which they will voluntarily get and keep by their own effort. When my kids want to do extra jobs to pay for something that they want, they are welcome to do so. But when they grow up, they will not get paid to wash their own dishes, vacuum their own home, and clean up their own messes. Some things we do because they need to get done, not because we get paid to do them. Some things we do because we are part of a family and we take care of each other. Some things we do because we are part of the human race and we watch out for each other. If my kid is waiting for a dollar or a pat on the back every time she does something for someone else…well, that’s just a pretty sad state of affairs.

  47. This is awesome. I think that the reward system is fantastic – you could even reward with pennies at a young age. I think that too many are focused on the reward and are forgetting that she uses it as a teaching opportunity – they teach using the three cups/jars about saving, giving, and having money to spend. They can learn from an early age that by doing something required of them, they earn something, and than, it is their responsibility to save and give. I’ve also read that if you, as a parent, has to do their job, leave them a “bill” for the service and they have to pay you for doing their job. It helps teach responsibility in older kids because they don’t like to give back their money. I’m thankful that my parents saw what a great tool it was to have me “work” for my allowance . . .it really isn’t a bad thing.

  48. I think it is so important to have this kind of system in place and to give little ones a sense of the value of money and how to earn it! Congratulations on a great site! I’m so glad to have stumbled across this one. Beautifully laid out and some great ideas. Certainly will be coming back here for valuable advice in future :)

  49. I do agree in giving rewards for good behavior, but we will be separating allowance and “family contributions” (not “chores” no one likes something that is a “chore”). The reasoning behind this is that the rest of us are not paid to get groceries, pick up, clean, etc…
    One suggestion I read that really appealed is the idea of taking something you might already buy them (for instance, school lunches, or some other regular expense), setting a cap on that expense and then providing the option to spend or save. “You can have X amount of $ for lunches, OR, you can make your own lunch and save the money”. I wholly agree with teaching them to separate each dollar into the save, spend, donate categories.

  50. Our son turned 3 in December & has just started school, so we thought now would be a great time to start a reward chart. He was getting £5 a week pocket money, but I like how you’ve assigned a certain amount to each chore/item. We’ve assigned 10p per chore with the possibility of earning up to £5.60 a week, 20% of that has to go in savings, 80% he can spend. It will also increase by 10% each year to reflect cost rises. On his list we have Brush My Teeth, Do My Homework, Finnish My Tea, Use My Potty/The Toilet All Day, Go To Bed, Tidy My Bedroom, No Silly Tantrums, Take My Dishes Out. Of course as he gets older these will change slightly

  51. I agree with the poster above about negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement in the form of rewards as well as praise has also been shown to be ineffective and have unintended negative consequences. See Nurture Shock, Unconditional Parenting, and more. I don’t know how to otherwise encourage my kids to do housework though, so I’m still searching for answers. I’m wondering if you could create some sort of chore/housework/contributions system where you drop marbles into a jar every time you complete one and make a race to see whose gets filled first. Or just be happy seeing your own jar fill. Maybe also whatever technique you use for the kid, use for yourself (chart your own tasks, etc.), show your kid how satisfying it is to check things off the list. I like the more natural consequence too of not having time for reading if you have to complete their tasks.

  52. I agree with the poster above about negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement in the form of rewards as well as praise has also been shown to be ineffective and have unintended negative consequences. See Nurture Shock, Unconditional Parenting, and more. I don’t know how to otherwise encourage my kids to do housework though, so I’m still searching for answers. I’m wondering if you could create some sort of chore/housework/contributions system where you drop marbles into a jar every time you complete one and make a race to see whose gets filled first. Or just be happy seeing your own jar fill. Maybe also whatever technique you use for the kid, use for yourself (chart your own tasks, etc.), show your kid how satisfying it is to check things off the list. I like the more natural consequence too of not having time for reading if you have to complete their tasks.

  53. just wanted to thank you for sharing this great chart

  54. Love, love, love this idea! My son already does some of these chores, but I like the idea of the giving and spending jar. Downloaded the chart and plan on using it today! Thank you : )

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