Big Jobs at Home
Young children love to help out, but many times we don’t let them. Why? Because we think it’s easier—and faster—to do everyday jobs ourselves. Your child might take 15 minutes to finish a job you can do in one minute. But in 15 minutes your child can learn a lot!
Big Jobs are indoor and outdoor jobs children do with their families (or others) that help the whole family. They include tasks like setting the table, planting flowers, and tidying up when visitors are coming. To adults they might seem like simple tasks, but Big Jobs carry big rewards—for your child and your entire family.
How are Big Jobs different from chores?
You assign chores. Children volunteer to do Big Jobs because they want to help out. Also, Big Jobs are done together with other family members. Teamwork is an important part of doing Big Jobs.
What do children learn from doing Big Jobs?
They learn to:
- work with other people
- solve problems
- contribute to their family
What are some Big Jobs young children can do?
- Cooking and baking—washing and peeling vegetables, stirring muffin batter, tearing lettuce leaves to make salad
- Gardening—digging holes, planting seeds, raking leaves, weeding, watering plants indoors and outdoors
- Doing laundry—carrying the laundry basket, sorting, folding, delivering clean clothes to each family member’s room
- Caring for pets—feeding, brushing, walking, cleaning the cage or aquarium
- Cleaning—rinsing dishes, dusting, emptying wastebaskets
Tips for doing Big Jobs at home
- Keep your child safe. Show your child how to safely use equipment like a rake or a vegetable peeler. Stay close by when it is his turn.
- Try to find child-size tools. They make jobs easier and safer.
- Have fun. Remember, your child chose to help out. Keep it enjoyable and she will want to do Big Jobs all the time.
- Talk while you work together. Chat about what you are doing and whatever else your child wants to discuss.
- Show your appreciation for the work family members have done. Say, “Thanks for setting the table, everyone. We are ready for dinner now, and the table looks beautiful.”
Source: Adapted from the Message in a Backpack for N.P. Jones, 2007, "Big Jobs," Teaching Young Children 1 (1): 10–12.
© National Association for the Education of Young Children — Promoting excellence in early childhood education