Thinking about creating a toddler chore chart? Tried it before but it just didn’t stick? No worries, mama. Let me show you three secrets for a preschooler or toddler chore chart system that really works! If you’ve got a tot or preschooler at home, you are in the perfect position to introduce chores to your family.

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If you want to create a tot or preschooler chore chart system that gets real results, you’ll need three things.

  1. Identify the real goal of chores for kids.
  2. Find a flexible, easy to implement chore chart.
  3. Decide what (if any) incentives to offer your child as they complete chores.

If you can nail down these three aspects, you’ll have the secrets to making your house a place where chores really work!

RELATED: Click here to enroll in a FREE webinar: How to get kids to listen without nagging, reminding, or yelling. Don’t miss a chance to join parenting expert Amy McCready of Positive Parenting Solutions for a powerful, FUN, interactive, answer-filled hour of tools you can start using IMMEDIATELY in your home.

The Real Goal of Chores

Before we go into the how, let’s talk about the why…

Let’s be clear, this idea of chores is not just about getting things done or getting little ones ready for the routines of kindergarten. I really think it goes much deeper than that.

Consistent chores produce habits. Habits produce character.

Charlotte Mason once said,

“As has been well said,
‘Sow an act, reap a habit;
sow a habit, reap a character;
sow a character, reap a destiny’ ”

(from the Original Homeschooling Series, Vol. 2 Parents and Children)

When I train my child to make his bed every morning it creates in him the habit of responsibility. Over time, I won’t have to remind him or watch over him as he completes this chore. The chore will become a natural habit. This habit, when repeated throughout the course of his childhood will, I believe, create character traits such as faithfulness and self-control. You see, we have to look beyond the to-do list nature of a toddler chore chart and get a glimpse of the character training that it really is.

That’s why it’s so important to find a system that you can stick with and that will actually work!

Want to know more about how we use systems and routines in our home? Read here to learn how to create a toddler schedule that works for stay-at-home moms!

Our Favorite Toddler Chore Chart System

My little guy just turned three, and I’ve been thinking about how to not only make chores more organized and more independently-led for my son, but also how to start building strong money-managing habits within our chore system.

In the past, we’ve used sticker chart systems or simply no system at all. The sticker system worked for a while, but honestly I just got tired of running out and buying all those stickers all the time! Plus, the printable I used only had a few selected chores on it. I wanted something with more flexibility. And, it needed to be self-contained, with no last-minute sticker runs required.

Recently, though, we bought this amazing magnetic toddler chore chart from Melissa & Doug. This chart is making it soooo easy to implement this new and improved chore and responsibility system.

Here’s what I love about it:

  • This chart is so easy for my son to use all by himself. The chore labels have both written words and pictures to aid comprehension. Plus the magnets are strong enough to stick, yet easily manageable for little fingers. I always let my son be the one to place his magnets on the chart, since I think this reinforces the idea that he can be responsible without me doing everything for him.
  • There are tons of chores to choose from! We can focus on new responsibilities as my son masters them. When chores like brushing teeth become a habit, just move on to the next responsibility you’d like to focus on.
  • One of my favorite aspects of this magnetic toddler chore chart is that it includes valuable character-based chores as well. If your child is struggling with apologizing, saying please and thank you, whining, or showing respect, you can make that character habit a “chore” to focus on during the week. The other day, my little guy came squealing up to me, “Mama, I didn’t whine when I had to leave. Let’s go do my magnet!” I can hear all the mamas saying, “Yes please!”
  • There are two blank chore magnets included, so you can write in a specific responsibility that you’d like your child to work on. I would use dry or wet erase markers for these so that you can stay flexible as your child masters new chores and turns them into habits.
  • This chart has the days of the week clearly labeled at the top. I love singing our Days of the Week song (to the tune of the Addams Family) to teach early learning calendar skills along with daily responsibilities. Read this post for more tips about how we do super-relaxed homeschool preschool for more early learning fun!


Seriously, this chart is the easiest to use system I’ve come across. With all the flexibility that it provides, I can see us using this chart well into the elementary school years. You can buy this Melissa & Doug magnetic chore chart on Amazon, too!

To Pay or Not to Pay?

There’s always been a debate about whether or not to pay children for doing their chores.

On one side you have financial gurus like Dave Ramsay, who say that paying our kids for chores teaches them solid financial wisdom and money-managing skills. Our kids learn good money habits from hands on practice with chores and commissions.

On the other side, we have ideas based on resources such as Parenting with Love and Logic that suggest that children should be expected to help with chores simply because they’re part of the family. Families work together. No incentive needed.

As for our family, we fall somewhere in the middle.

Are our children required to help with chores and family projects? Absolutely. We do things as a team. Certain jobs and chores simply don’t have any payment associated with them. Our kids do them because we ask them to do them. The reward is self-confidence, increased empathy for others in the family, a sense of family pride, and the satisfaction of a job well-done.

At this toddler and preschooler stage, these non-paid chores look like:

  • helping with a “mama or daddy” chore or responsibility.
  • chores that he can’t complete on his own, like washing the car, outside clean-up, helping with general cleaning, and other adult chores.

However, we also feel pretty strongly about teaching our kids wise money habits. Maybe you’ve read our story about how we paid off $13,000 in consumer debt so that I could stay home when our son was born. We know that the culture we live in simply won’t do the job when it comes to teaching Bible-based, solid money-managing principles to our kids. Also, we’re passionate about teaching our family how to be generous with money.

We have our son allot money to Give (tithes), Save, and Spend jars. So, my son can earn money when certain chores are completed. Remember, this isn’t an allowance. If he doesn’t do the job, he doesn’t earn the wage. Just like the real world!

Chores that my preschooler earns money for look like:

  • completing responsibilities for his own belongings, such as making his own bed, and cleaning up his own toys.
  • doing responsibilities for himself, such as brushing teeth, doing bedtime and morning routines, or getting dressed.

Again, the end goal of these paid chores are that little by little they become habits. As he slowly begins to understand his role of responsibility, these (paid) chores simply become another (unpaid) habit in his character trait tool bag. We’ve thought carefully about the idea that our kids could become resentful once they realize that they’re now completing certain chores for free that they were once paid for. Honestly, though, this just goes back to the balance we talked about before. Certain chores (…and by certain, we mean whatever chores mama and daddy say. As parents, we retain the right to make the rules about chores.) aren’t paid chores. We simply do them together as we work as a family team.

Are you ready to get started with a toddler and preschooler chore chart that really works?

Let me know in the comments what you think. What are your end goals for having your child do chores? What will your toddler chore chart look like? Do you plan on paying your child for completing certain chores?