3 Simple Tips to Help Kids Balance School and Chores

Because prioritizing one thing doesn't mean neglecting another

Your kids will soon be going back to school, and that means it may be more difficult for them to keep up with chores.

Sure, kids should focus on homework over housework, but that doesn't mean household responsibilities should go by the wayside. So here are a few quick tips to help keep your kids on task.

1. There's one chore all kids have time to do.

Especially for older kids, schedules can get hectic. Sports, homework, and extracurricular projects can fill the day and make it tough to budget time for extra chores. But all those commitments are still compatible with personal responsibility. At the very least, kids should own up to their own messes.

Above all, children should clean up after themselves. [Credit: Flickr user "vblibrary" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)] View Larger

Learning to clean up after themselves teaches children multiple life lessons. The first is that their actions have consequences—you should only make a mess if you're willing to clean it up. The second is that you're their parent, not their unpaid servant.

The website Life as a Mom puts it this way: "...future co-workers, roommates, and spouses will be so thankful to know [your children] if they can take care of their own stuff."

2. Avoid chore bore with a rotating schedule.

Humans crave variety—especially children. Doing the same chore week after week can get to be a drag, but you can spice things up with a rotating chore schedule that ensures no kid has to do the same task too often.

Drawing Lots
Drawing lots for the day's chore is a great way to add variety to mundane tasks. [Credit: Flickr user "Jonathan_W" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)] View Larger

Over at How Does She?, one writer showed off her personalized daily kids' schedules, which include rotating chore routine. As she describes it, "The kids rotate through all the jobs. I just help the 5 year old a bit. This eliminates any complaining about whose jobs are harder."

A user at parenting advice site Baby Center took the concept one step further and created "Choresicles"—popsicle sticks with the names of various chores printed on them. Her children pick one out of a jar every day, and as an added incentive there's a "free pass" stick lurking in among all the housework.

It's a great way to make chores more attractive, adding a fun, game-like factor to the process. A little sugar helps the medicine go down.

3. Turn chore time into learning time.

With younger kids, it's easy to turn routine household tasks into educational experiences.

Reading While Working
Doing chores and learning can go hand in hand. For example, you can read to your child while they're cleaning up. [Credit: Flickr user "shutterhacks" (CC BY 2.0)] View Larger

When your little one is putting away their toys, making their bed, or setting the table, there's no reason not to practice their letters, too.

Have them call out the names of items, and when they're old enough, attempt to spell them. If they're helping you measure ingredients for dinner, use the opportunity to reinforce basic math skills.

Plus, it's never too early to learn to multitask. We've even heard of parents reading stories to their children while they supervise their cleanup time.

There's also a growing body of evidence that suggests that we think better when we're moving. Although it's not clear why this is so, I'm sure every parent wants to give their children every advantage they can. So why not get them moving and thinking at the same time?

Hero image: Flickr user "evilerin" (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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