Why Your Kids Should do Chores

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At Villa di Maria, and other Montessori schools across the world, care of the environment is an important, integral part of the classroom experience. Children quickly learn to tidy up after themselves, whether it is after eating snack, accidentally spilling water, or finishing a lesson that needs to be returned to the shelf for the next friend to use. The elementary-aged children contribute to the tidiness of the classroom with their daily jobs, which they complete toward the end of every school day. Now, new research shows that children who grow up doing chores are more successful as adults. Here’s why chores are important. 

A University of Minnesota analysis of data collected over a 20-year period found that “the best predictor of success in young adulthood, on measures related to education completion, career path, and personal relationships, was whether they had begun doing chores at an early age — as young as 3 or 4.” (Boston Globe, 2015) 

Making chores a part of the daily routine for children of all ages can help them manage their time, a real-world skill that they will need throughout their adult lives both in the workplace and at home. Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford University, argues household chores help kids build responsibility, autonomy, and perseverance — traits necessary to becoming capable adults. Pitching in at home (and at school) can lead to the mindset that it is important to pitch in in other settings.

Below: the 15-minute TED Talk by Julie Lythcott-Haims about how to raise successful kids (without over-parenting). She brings up the topic of chores at around 8 minutes, 45 seconds into the talk. Enjoy!

Thank you, Maria Montessori, for seeing, so long ago, the importance of responsibility, autonomy, and community-mindedness.

“Among the revelations the child has brought us, there is one of fundamental importance, the phenomenon of normalisation through work. Thousands and thousands of experiences among children of every race enable us to state that this phenomenon is the most certain datum verified in psychology or education. It is certain that the child’s attitude towards work represents a vital instinct; for without work his personality cannot organise itself and deviates from the normal lines of its construction. Man builds himself through working. Nothing can take the place of work, neither physical well-being nor affection, and, on the other hand, deviations cannot be corrected by either punishment or example. Man builds himself through working, working with his hands, but using his hands as the instruments of his ego, the organ of his individual mind and will, which shapes its own existence face to face with its environment. The child’s instinct confirms the fact that work is an inherent tendency in human nature; it is the characteristic instinct of the human race.”                  -Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood