Activities that encourage responsibility

Posted November 10, 2008 3:43 p.m. EST

The following ideas and developmental benchmarks, provided by Teresa Greco at the Lucy Daniels Center Family Guidance Service, will help encourage a child’s independence. The homework examples apply to typically developing children.


  • Choose clothing and get dressed
  • Pick up and put away toys
  • Get napkins and utensils to set the table
  • Brush teeth and wash face (with supervision)

Early elementary school

  • Help sort laundry and fold easy items. Put away folded laundry
  • Set the table
  • Attempt to complete homework without help; review with parents’ help
  • Pick out and return library books
  • Empty and assemble backpacks, with supervision
  • Keep homework folder organized

Late elementary school

  • Make and pack lunch; empty lunch bag after school
  • Pour breakfast cereal
  • Feed a family pet
  • Help unload and put away groceries
  • Get snack after school
  • Start and complete homework without help, unless specific help is needed
  • Practice spelling words with parents, practice writing the words and create flashcards
  • Keep a binder organized by subject

Middle school

  • Unload dishwasher
  • Do own laundry
  • Help prepare meals
  • Walk the family dog
  • Initiate doing homework and manage time
  • Complete all or most homework without help

High school

  • Help with family chores
  • Clean assigned area of the house
  • Run simple errands (if they drive responsibly)
  • Manage homework and projects
  • Work on projects with peers
  • Carpool with peers to after-school activities
  • Work a part-time job if it doesn’t interfere with schoolwork