Of all the myriad debates about parenthood, perhaps one of the most polarizing is the debate on childhood chores – should stressed-out kids, still learning their place in the world and filled to the brim with school and activities, still be made to help out at home?
Today’s kids are doing a lot. It’s not just the demands of a heavier, more involved education in the classroom that take up their time, but also tutoring classes and homework, extracurricular activities such as sports, and enriching classes like musical instruments or language classes. They should also be allocated their leisure time, especially going out with friends or simply doing things that entertain them.
Given this, when faced with the question of whether kids should be helping around the house on top of all these things, it can be easy to think that they’ve already got a lot on their plate. They have so much to do, and need their energy and focus on these things, which chores would take significant time away from.
Other arguments against chores deal with how they affect the kids. Some parents believe that the discipline that kids would otherwise learn from having daily chores, can be taught instead in the form of better time management and diligence with schoolwork and extracurriculars. Others also suggest that kids dread chores and find them to be a source of stress and anxiety waiting for them at home, when they’ve already had a long day at school.
Chores have been a part of raising children for generations. The arguments in favor of childhood chores often deal with the direct benefits to the household. Many parents will say that they’re busy themselves as well, and having the kids participate in tidying up would make things much easier for everyone. Children who do chores will also learn the life skills associated with chores. When they have their own homes, they’ll have to know how to do these chores anyway, so starting early is a great idea.
More importantly, though, there is research that correlates childhood chores with benefits in later adulthood. Chores do more than help out; they provide disciplinary instruction, judgement, and organization skills that will carry over later in life to everything they do, from owning and managing their own home to having a tidy and organized workplace.
Interestingly, the debate on childhood chores seems to have some rooting in culture – countries that are rich in social welfare programmes seem to have more inclination towards the pro-chores side.
Swiss International School Dubai aims to provide our students with excellent education, a variety of extracurricular opportunities, and a reasonable homework load, as well as a pastoral care environment that nurtures children as though the school were a second family. We believe that chores are an important part of character building, but they shouldn’t be a massive part of a child’s life at home, as we acknowledge that our kids need their personal time and energy for leisure.
Our Head of Boarding and Teacher of MYP Physical Health Education, has this to say about children doing chores. “Quite simply – yes! I believe this only helps to build a fundamental level of integral values, independence and responsibility from an early age. Having myself grown up in the country, on my family farm, I immediately learned an invaluable lesson of the importance in helping others and in being responsible. Given clear technological advances over recent years, consumerism, along that of the service sector, this has become a lesson can sometimes be forgotten to great determent to the individual. While, considering the preimages that our host country of Dubai offers us all, it only emphasizes this necessity in teaching our youth this life lesson.
“This lesson is also true of boarding. Boarding holds a strong family and team ethos; everyone looks after one another and everyone takes care of their own business. This include cleaning up after yourself, managing your own laundry and keeping your bedroom clean and tidy. The learning opportunity and journey that each boarding follows create a far more independent and responsible individual which can only benefit a young person’s holistic development.”