So I interviewed Prof. Lewis Mandell last week for my money book (now, called again, Laughing at the Joneses… it will come out with a title, I swear!) His research has found that kids who get non-conditional allowances do worse on financial literacy tests than kids who get conditional allowances (for doing chores) or don’t get allowances at all (who basically act like charity fundraisers getting cash out of mom and dad when they need it — a useful skill, it turns out).
I’ve been thinking about kids and chores lately because Jasper is almost 4 years old, and definitely old enough to start helping out a bit more. I’ve managed to get him to empty the silverware out of the dishwasher (provided someone else takes the sharpest knives out first). If we have set containers for toys he can put those away, though he’s always tempted to start playing again. And right now the prospect of organizing a bunch of non-classifiable toys into different containers in our house seems like a worse set-up than Carl Linnaeus faced. I think he could probably help carry dishes from the table and make his bed. Perhaps he could put laundry away (I don’t care if the kids’ clothes are folded).
So I’m curious: what age did you start various chores for your children? How did you go about teaching them various domestic skills? Is there any way to make it seem like fun?