Having never been a foster child, I can’t imagine what it would be like, having to adapt to new families, new rules, new levels of tolerance, new showing of affection and more. Normalcy and routine are grounding forces for children in their young years.

Foster children have experienced a lot of upheaval and instability in their lives, so it’s essential to integrate solid routine and clear expectations into their lives in a new home. Assigning appropriate chores is a good place to add to a child’s sense of well-being and accomplishment.

Part of growing up is having responsibility. When we remember that these children are not on vacation, and although they need love and acceptance, extreme pampering won’t be a help, that’s when the relationship can begin to grow and they will start to be able to thrive.

Consider assigning daily or weekly chores to your foster child. Listed below are age-appropriate chores that will help build your foster child’s esteem, help them feel grounded, give them responsibility, and help them feel safe within their new routine. Keep in mind that these chores don’t have to be done perfectly to be effective in helping your child. Perfection is not what we’re seeking – building a child is our aim.

Here are some age-appropriate chore ideas:

AGES 2-4

  • Wipe down table after each meal
  • Align shoes in the mud room
  • Help move laundry from washer to dryer
  • Carry clean laundry to the correct rooms
  • Shred papers
  • Wipe piano keys
  • Make bed

AGES 5-7

  • Shake rugs
  • Sweep/Swiffer
  • Set Table and Clear Table
  • Fold clean laundry
  • Water plants
  • Feed the pets
  • Load dishwasher (with supervision)
  • Vacuum floors

AGES 8-11

  • Mop floors
  • Wash mirrors
  • Help prepare meals
  • Sort laundry
  • Empty trash
  • Get mail
  • Rake leaves/shovel snow
  • Clean bathrooms (this may take supervision and repeated, patient teaching)


  • Clean kitchen after meals, including scrubbing of counters and sink
  • Fully prepare a meal weekly (supervision may be required)
  • Prepare weekly shopping list, then shop with Mom or Dad
  • Mow lawn
  • Clean out and vacuum car
  • Change burned-out light bulbs
  • Read to younger children

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Waitley