How to Make a to Do Chart for a Preschooler: 3 Steps
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Encourage siblings to make completing their to-do charts a group activity.

Commands like "For the hundredth time, get ready for bed" or "Pick up this room so I can at least see the floor" are often unheeded by preschoolers -- and for good reason. Many instructions preschoolers receive are ineffective because they don't direct your little one to perform a specific action. Enter picture to-do charts: a graphic depiction of all those tasks you know she can do herself but for some reason never does unless you're right on top of her. Instead of saying "Get ready for bed," refer her to the bedtime to-do chart. You'll save a small but important portion of your sanity not having to direct her every movement, and she'll feel like a big girl completing self-help tasks.


  1. 1
    Draw two vertical columns on the dry-erase board. Divide those columns into table cells with horizontal lines. Make a cell for each task on the board. Try to limit the number of tasks to five or less. Even the most cooperative preschooler is not going to complete an 11-step bedtime to-do chart. Also, having tons of unused task columns will just confuse your little one.
  2. 2
    Place one task sticker in each cell in the left column. The sticker represents the activity she must complete, so choose pictures that are fairly obvious. For example, a picture of a child brushing her teeth represents "brush your teeth." Stick with the basic tasks that your preschooler can complete thoroughly and by herself. Taking a bath and washing her own hair, for example, will result in a soap-covered bathroom and still-dirty hair. Instead, focus on the small but helpful things she can do while you wrangle the other children, like washing her hands, wiping her face, brushing her teeth and using the toilet.
  3. 3
    Switch the task stickers throughout the day based on which routine you need her to complete. For example, a school-morning routine would include using the toilet, brushing her teeth and putting on her socks, all before she comes downstairs. Keep multiple to-do charts throughout the house where they're most visible and convenient for your little one's easily distracted eyes. For example, keep separate charts in the bathroom, by the back door and in her play area. Play area to-do items could include putting toys back in the basket or shelf and putting caps back on the markers.


  • Let your child choose her own task stickers. She'll be more excited about following a to-do chart if she feels like she's part of the process, rather than having something forcibly imposed on her.


  • Rewards are not necessary -- unless, for some reason, your preschooler has a condition that makes performing daily self-help tasks especially challenging. Linking basic, necessary tasks for herself, like brushing her teeth, with material rewards offsets the real prize: her independence. Instead, let her check off the task in the empty column next to the sticker or place a star next to each task she's completed.

Things You'll Need

  • Dry-erase board
  • Ruler
  • Task stickers
  • Dry-erase markers

Article Info

Categories: Education and Communications

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