child washing dishes in sink at preschool or daycare

4 Responsibility Activities for Kids

Teaching Responsibility

It is so important to teach responsibility in early childhood education. Starting at an early age, parents and teachers alike can begin to instill habits that promote a good work ethic and teach children lessons that will serve them well into adulthood. From improved self-esteem and confidence to being considerate of the needs of others, responsibility is an essential trait that caregivers can help preschoolers learn to appreciate.

The following is a list of four great activities to teach responsibility in preschoolers that can be easily incorporated into your child care curriculum:

1. Model Responsibility

The most effective way to teach responsibility is for you and your staff to model responsibility and discuss how to be responsible frequently. For example, state that it’s time to put away your dirty dishes after lunchtime in front of your preschoolers. Use the phrase, “Now we put our dishes in the sink” to be inclusive and emphasize that everyone should participate. Using a “we” phrase shows that everyone is responsible for performing the action.

2. Assign Individual Tasks

Allow preschoolers to help you out with small jobs around your child care center. There are many little tasks around your facility that can be assigned. Give children the responsibility of sharpening pencils, straightening up toys or sorting papers. You can even create a job board system that assigns certain tasks to children on a rotating basis. This allows preschoolers to feel as though they are an important part of your daycare team and gives them ownership of and responsibility of a task that is all their own.

3. Find Responsible Solutions Together

Present preschoolers with a range of situations and scenarios and ask them to suggest a responsible solution. Come up with 10 or more age-appropriate situations that require action or a decision. For example, ask what the responsible decision is when a friend does something bad and they know about it. Or, if a stranger offers them a ride home from the playground, what should they do? Ask children to give their opinions and then select the most responsible solution and explain why. This is a fun, interactive activity to teach responsibility that can become a regular part of your curriculum.

4. Offer Praise

Positive reinforcement is an excellent way to demonstrate to preschoolers that their efforts are appreciated and an important part of your center. Be specific with the praise you offer to children. Instead of simply saying “good job”, say, “You did an excellent job of tidying up the craft supplies!” When applicable, point out how the child’s actions have helped everyone else in your child care center as well. This positive encouragement will help preschoolers develop a sense of ownership over certain tasks and help them take more initiative in future situations.

Allowing preschoolers to feel helpful and responsible lays the groundwork for what will make him or her a more responsible teenager and adult. By providing children age-appropriate responsibilities and reinforcing their responsible actions, you as a child care provider can help them develop the essential skills they need to be more confident and responsible as they grow.

Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.