This post may contain affiliate links. Please read the disclaimer for more information.
As parents, it is up to us to pass on basic life skills to our children, so they grow into confident independent adults. However, children all develop at different rates, some children grasp skills quicker than others. The key in teaching life skills to your kids is practice, patience and consistency in a fun way from an early age.
As I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s I felt like I had many chores. I felt like my play time was being taken away from me. The chores were life skills I use daily. I’m so thankful that my parents took the time to teach me basic life skills like how to cook, clean, manage money, communicate, use public transport before I left home.
Children today need to learn the same basic life skills. The question is often asked, where should they learn the skills, from parents or from teachers. Everyone will have an opinion on what to learn in schools and what at home.
The 10 life skills to teach your kids.
Having left home at 18 to live abroad I felt skilled and ready. My parents had prepared me by teaching me many valuable life skills. These basic living skills I teach my children. I know my daughter found them valuable when she overseas for a year and I know my son will find them valuable too as he transfers from school to university or work life.
How to cook a basic meal.
From an early age, all children love to help in the kitchen. Let the children help and have fun in the process. Start with a simple breakfast meal like toast, butter and jam. As the children learn skills and get older teach full recipes like omelettes, spaghetti bolognese and stir-fry.
As part of cooking teach the children how to make their packed lunches and the ingredients of a healthy meal plan for the day.
Tip: Delegate a cooking night so your children can cook a basic meal for the family.
Delegating a cooking night I have been doing now for many years. My son loves to learn new recipes and cook. He is 18 and once a week we cook together where he learns new techniques in cooking. Also once a week he cooks the family meal, while I go to a stretching class and my husband is practising golf, his passion.
Naturally, when my son was younger we always cooked together, there was no cooking alone. However, the benefit of my son cooking alone is practice without pressure, skill building for when he leaves home (sad face) and time management.
This past year I’ve been taking photos of him cooking and the recipes his cooked to put together for him in his own recipe book. Shhh … don’t tell him.
When children are young follow a daily bedtime routine of bath, brush teeth, read book and bed. Be consistent with the basic hygiene daily as this assists with setting a continual habit which they continue with.
There are times children adjust the basic hygiene routine to suit school hours or around their sporting activities.
How to use the washing machine.
Young children may not be able to use the washing machine, but they can help with the washing by sorting clothes for the wash and folding clothes. Learning to fold socks. The organising of colours all kids love.
I taught my kids to put clothes into coloured buckets. When the buckets were full it was a wash load. As soon as my daughter was old enough I taught her how to use the washing machine and put it on. My son too has learnt how to wash his work uniform and put in a load of wash if the colour bucket is full. If only I could teach my husband!
Small children like to play shop. Teach young children with toy money and then start with real money. Teach children how to budget, how to save and the importance of value. Value teaches how to spend wisely. Other money skills when your child gets older include reading a bank statement and understanding a pay slip.
Tip: Monopoly is a great money game to play with children. If using cards and not money it is vital children understand a card is not an endless pit of money. A card is cash and needs to be budgeted. All children need to learn how to budget as to have good money habits as an adult.
Caring for others.
Caring for others can be people or pets. Siblings sometimes treat each other meanly. Children may not always treat their pets nice too. Teach a child to care by giving respect, being gentle, being a good friend, talking nicely. A child learns by watching. The more compassion they observe, the more compassion and empathy they learn.
When I was a Joey Scout leader, I found the motto ‘A joey scout cares, a joey scout shares’ a great motto for the 5-7 year olds. This motto is valuable to all. Care and share.
Throughout life, time is important. A child needs to learn to be ready for school on time. Have everything they need. Complete a project by the due date. A child needs to understand public transport like bus and train timetables. Understanding time and valuing punctuality assists with adulthood as job positions have set times to abide too.
Basic first aid.
Young children’s first step in basic first aid is to learn how to bandage a teddy or a doll, or even put a band-aid on Teddy’s sore. This valuable playtime is vital as it gets children comfortable with first aid items. As children get older and get scrapes and cuts teach them the basics to help treat themselves. Recommended too is a good first aid course.
In Australia, we have many poisonous insects and animals and a good first aid course will guide how to treat bites and stings. Rachael and Jason both participated in first aid courses at the age of 16, however, learnt skills first at home in basic first aid and also at scouts.
As a young adult, I sewed some of my own clothes as I was taught the skill from my mum. I remember having to learn how to darn socks. Darning socks is something I haven’t taught my children. Unfortunately, some items of clothing I don’t repair, though as I learn more and more on minimalism I might just start to darn socks again.
Most families today replace torn clothes yet basic sewing skills are useful.
There are simple sewing kits for children as young as five where they can use a plastic needle and learn to stitch. One important basic sewing skill is to learn to sew on a button another is to learn to sew a tear. When you teach children to sew, start with simple small projects like a finger puppet so they can share their new found skill.
Ride a bike.
A child likes to be independent. Teach them to ride a bike. Riding a bike has many benefits; it is fun and great for mental and physical health, great for families to enjoy together and it is a great way to get around. When children are older and have learnt road sense they can cycle to school, to sport and to work.
Tip: Teach how to cross the road and basic road rules when you to a child to ride a bike. Always ensure your child is wearing the correct protective headgear for your country and also has a roadworthy bike.
Learn to swim.
Swimming is a life skill a child can learn from a baby. First, water awareness and then the introduction to the basics of swimming. Learning to swim saves lives.
Being surrounded by water, the beach, the lake, swimming pools, rivers. I took the children as soon as I could to mum and baby swimming classes, a fun activity. From about 3 years of age, they had swimming lessons.
Tip: If you live near the beach or swim at beaches teach also your children about rips and swimming between the red and yellow flags. Lifeguarded beaches.
Children learn by watching, children learn by doing. You are your child’s role model. These are just 10 life skills to teach your kids. By watching children also learn other skills and values like good manners, how to be grateful, how to advocate for themselves and how to interact with others.
What other skills do you recommend teaching children before they leave home?
Angie blogs about goals, productivity, blogging and social media marketing, as well as living abroad. She started blogging while learning the skills to start an online business. Her mission is to help others succeed with social media and blogging as well as live a laptop lifestyle while travelling in Australia. Angie often shares tips and tricks while walking the beaches and near the lake on the Central Coast NSW Australia.
Follow on Social Media