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?
However you answer these questions, if you expect an 8-year-old to keep their room clean, take out the garbage after dinner each night, and save half of their birthday money toward a big purchase, then expect the same things of your 8-year-old who is blind or has low vision. Setting lower expectations for a child with blindness or low vision than for their sighted brothers or sisters or friends is telling them, in effect, that they are not capable of doing what everyone else does.
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. In the beginning, 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 and so on 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 on their own. When they are finished with that, the dishwasher will be empty, and they can have the feeling of completion as they close the door.
Once your child knows where all of the silverware goes and can put it away without your help, have them take responsibility for the plastic plates and bowls, then 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.
If your child relies primarily on touch to complete activities, think of chores that can be done efficiently with that sense with items that are easy to identify by touch or added tactile labels. For example, if your child is responsible for cleaning the bathroom each week, put all the cleaning products in one place, make sure your child understands the purpose of each item, and check to see if labels are needed to help tell the products apart.
If it will be helpful to your child, make a “chore chart” that shows which chores your child needs to do. Have a system to check off which chores are completed or use raised stickers, depending on whether your child uses print or braille.
Give your child realistic feedback about how you 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.