Chores for Your Child with Blindness or Low Vision: Yes or No?
Sooner or later, most parents consider questions like these.
- Is my child ready to have regular household chores?
- Does my child need to be paid for doing chores?
- Should I have my child save their birthday or chore money?
- What about making the bed every morning? Or making their lunch to take to school? Are these special chores? Or simply part of everyday life?
No matter how you think about it, if you want an 8-year-old to clean their room, take out the trash every night, and save half their birthday money for something big, you should expect the same from a child who is blind or has low vision. Having lower expectations for a child with blindness or low vision compared to their sighted siblings or friends sends the wrong message. It suggests they can’t do what others can, which isn’t true.
Tips for Giving Your Child Chores
You may need more time with your child with blindness or low vision than with their siblings to teach the steps. Initially, you may need to work together as a team, letting your child do some of the steps while you do the others. This is referred to as partial participation.
In helping your child learn the steps of a task, consider working backward from the steps they already know—usually the final step or two of the sequence. This way, they’ll have the feeling of success as the complete the last step or two without difficulty. Once your child manages the last step, add the next-to-last step until they can do all of the steps on their own. For example, if the chore is to empty the dishwasher, you might have your child open the dishwasher, with you taking out all the glass items and putting them away, leaving them the plastic items and silverware. Guide your child in putting away the plastic items but have your child do the silverware independently. When they finish that, the dishwasher will be empty, and they can feel competent as they close the door.
Building Upon What Your Child is Capable of Doing
Once your child knows where all the silverware goes and can put it away without your help, have them take responsibility for the plastic plates and bowls, add the plastic cups and other dishes, then the glass plates, and so on.
Think about ways you can make the objects your child uses in doing chores easier to see and locate. For example, if one of the chores is to feed the dogs each evening, buy dog bowls in colors that contrast with the floor. Put the scoop for the dog food in an easy-to-reach place so that your child doesn’t have to look for it in the bin or bag of dog food. Simple changes that increase contrast, use color, minimize visual distractions, or provide extra lighting will help your child be more efficient in completing chores. As your child gets older and takes on new chores, encourage them to consider each new chore to figure out what steps might help them to complete it most efficiently.
Developing Independence Through Chores
If your child mainly uses touch, think about chores they can do well with this sense. Make sure items they need are easy to identify by touch or have tactile labels. For instance, if they clean the bathroom, keep all cleaning products in one spot. Teach your child what each product does. You might need to add labels to help them tell the products apart. A “chore chart” could be useful too. It can list the chores they need to do. Use a system to mark off finished chores. You can use raised stickers if your child reads braille.
Give your child realistic feedback about how your child does the chore. Tell what is done well and praise, but also explain what can be done differently next time so that the job is done better. Don’t become discouraged if it takes time to complete a chore to your standard.