Core Routines -- The Value of Doing Chores

“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.” – Adm. Bill McRaven – Head of the U.S. Special Operations Command

My 2₵

Our mission is to have our graduates be prosperous not just in school but well after they graduate. To that end, we have reversed engineered both those that are successful and those that are not. Over the past forty years of working with young adults, I have seen many who stumbles in college, relationships, or just not being able to live independently. I have compared them to those that were successful in their vocation, relationships, and I discovered some common threads between long term success or long term failure. I have seen many who had everything going for them good financial support, they went to the best schools, they got good grades and SAT scores, yet floundered. I have seen others that life was a struggle when they were younger poor grades, not having basic needs met, parents that were unstable or not healthy, or had physical disabilities. Many who were dealt a poor hand grew to be very successful. The generation that grew up in the depression fought in a world war and went on to be known as the Greatest Generation. Why?

I looked at the academic research to see what was reflected. What the research showed is that good grades and SAT scores alone were a poor indicator of success. A significant number of high school graduates that got into the best colleges, started good jobs or married the best people yet ended up floundering and moving back in with parents. Why? They had one thing in common, they did not grow up doing chores.

Let’s just look at going away to college, your main objective here is taking the knowledge, skills, and wisdom of your professors and make it yours. If you are good at that and you jump through the right hoops you will earn a paper that says that you can call yourself a graduate of that institution. Unfortunately only half of the freshmen make it through the first year and smaller percentage graduate. It is not because they did not know how to take notes, read books, or take a test; they proved that already or they would not have been given the seat in the university. The true issue is they did not have the skills, grit, or habits necessary to be self-reliant. The common thread of those that had the easiest transition into college and adult life as they grew up they were responsible for daily chores.

To that end we do not send work home to students expect our students to work at home for the family doing chores. # Parents…

“The best predictor for young adults’ success in their mid-20s is that they participated in household tasks at age 3 or 4. It takes discipline on the parents’ part to involve children in daily chores.” Marty Rossman

The main reason parents give for not having their children help out is that it is easier to do it themselves Adults who said they were overindulged as children cited not having to do household chores as the reason why. By not being expected to contribute to the family by doing household tasks, they missed out on learning basic skills, which later caused distress and embarrassment. “People’s impression of overindulgence is being given too many toys,” However the research found “The major way people said they were overindulged was not having to do chores.”


If you started as soon as you could stand on a stool and wash your hands you could have started to help with the dishes, take laundry out of the drier, or pull weeds. If your parents sang, told stories, or made you laugh during these time it would be something that you now enjoy, not dread and as you grew and the tasks became more complicated you would be learning more skills, developing more strengths, developing more grit, and most importantly just knowing that these were just things that you did every day. If your folks raised you from the beginning like this, great keep doing what you are doing; kudos to them; give them a hug and thank them. If not, forgive your parents and let’s get you started. It is going to be harder to start now, you will not have competencies, strengths, or most importantly the habit of doing these tasks. If you are starting now to do daily chores you may feel like this is punishment or your parents are making you do something that they do not want to do, that reaction in normal or worse your parents actually used chores as a punishment, get over it, you are doing it as your learning journey and your parents are learning with you. If you are starting now go ahead and start at the beginning as if you were two-years-of-age and quickly develop the skills and fortitude and grit for your age level. Remember, you are doing this as a major part of your educational journey, therefore, your parents job is not to nag at you to do these, just help you learn competencies as you go. One the most important factors of the core routine of doing cores is that you are learning to be a self-starter, i.e., having the habit of doing what needs to be done without having to be asked, told, or reminded.

Some keys to remember are as follows: Have a list and schedule of chores and use it. In the evening journal what you have done, the hours you worked, the money you spent or earned, and the skills you learned. This document may be very important later on getting into a college, getting a job, or getting a certification. Agriculture teachers need to have thousands of hours of work experience, and the hours and money netted that is reflected in your journal may count for some of those hours.


The act of doing things daily that must be done for the good of the family develops a pattern of service over self. During gratitude at the beginning of a meal and being thanked for raising the carrots and eggs feels good, it creates a solid connection between the work you did and the success of the family. Doing the profit and loss at the end of a project and looking at completed project is tangible evidence that you add to the net worth of the family and how to add to your personal net worth, therefore, giving you a real self-esteem because it is your actions that earn you respect from others not just being. The act of doing things that must be done in the fall like planting onions and garlic for eating the following year, or cutting and stacking firewood this year than enjoying the warmth and light next year develops those same parts of the brain that make the connection between the money you save today will serve you when you want to buy a house as an adult or retire as a senior and the skills you learn today will serve you as an adult. These simple tasks, done daily, develop both short term and long term time management skills.

What does this mean

Doing cores, is not an act of punishment, but an opportunity to develop lifelong connections between you’re your siblings and parents working together for a common goal and just having time doing relevant things together. This a time to make deep connections with the parents telling stories and singing from their youth, a time for laughing. This is a time to develop competencies by working alongside your parents and older siblings. It is a time to develop grit and physical strength sticking at a task long enough to get it done and overcoming the blisters and splinters, heat or cold. Finally, by learning by living life you will encounter problems and learn skills in solving these setbacks.

Core Routines

Each day before school without being told you will make your bed, wash-up, brush teeth, get yourself dressed, feed and water pets, make your lunch, fill your water bottle.

Upon coming home from school you will carry in firewood and prepare fire for later, take out trash, put your clothes directly in washer and run it, you will shower, put clothes in drying, put dishes away, clean today’s lunch out of your pack, take clothes out of dryer and lay them out for next morning. Rest, do your afterschool core routines, Free Rice, Khan Academy, play guitar, etc. enjoy some leisure time. Then set the table. After supper help with dishes, using some sort of primitive skill light the fire, then check that you have everything you need in your backpack for tomorrow, less your lunch and water.

Have a check-off list and use it, submitted to your mentor each Monday, it will be part of your quarterly review and your graduation packet.

Start Now

Here are chores by age that we use.

"I enjoy the cleaning up—something about the getting of things in order for winter—making the garden secure—a battening down of hatches perhaps... It just feels right."
——David Hobson
"Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school."
— Marty Rossman