In our day and age where so much focus is on achievement test scores in schools, basic life skills are often pushed aside for more sophisticated learning. As a teacher, I am surprised at how even the smartest test achievers, often don’t know the simplest of life skills. Teaching life skills can be fun. It’s real life issues, so the questions of “But when will I ever use this knowledge?” or “Why do I have to learn this?” is easily explained. I’ve put together a list of some basic life lessons that you may want to consider trying to teach your children from a young age.
Make sure that your child knows how to communicate clearly to other people. He or she doesn’t have to be a big talker to know how to communicate. Even if your child is shy, they can still learn to look people in the eye when communicating and never sit down without shaking someone’s hand. Teach them how to respect and be a good listener, even if they disagree with what’s being said. Saying”Yes ma’am” and “Yes Sir” to elders never goes out of style. Teach them to truly listen when someone is talking to them. I love the reminder that God gave us two ears and just one mouth so that we remember to listen to others. Above all else, be a good role model. Teach them to speak their mind politely and not to curse. There is always a better word to use than a swear word.
Ok seriously, who doesn’t need to learn better money management? I know I’m always trying to manage my money better. Teach your children from a young age, the value of a dollar. Let them help you shop and pay the cashier or help you pay at a self-checkout line. Make sure that they know that money does not grow on trees, but instead is earned. Teach them to balance a checkbook and to save up for something that they want. Or better yet, teach them how to save up even if they don’t need anything. This is a skill that never grows old.
When kids leave for college and are suddenly on their own, it’s shocking how many don’t know how to cook. Teach your child the basics of preparing healthy meals and snacks. They don’t have to have expert chef skills unless they are interested in a culinary field, but they should know how to cook eggs and prepare the basics. Show them how to measure and follow a recipe. Let them help you prepare meals. Cooking can be a fun skill to work on together.
Basic Outdoor Survival Skills
You never know when your child may need to survive on a cold night or find shelter quickly. Teach them how to stay warm, find help, and not panic. Panic is one of the worst things that a lost person can do. Studies have been done on people who get lost in the woods. Adults have been found dehydrated with a full water bottle that they were carrying as they literally walked in circles to fatigue and dehydration. Teach your child always to keep calm, stay warm, and wait for help.
Balancing A Check Book
Banking can be such a fun skill to teach. Let your child watch and help you balance your own checkbook. Show them what you are writing down and explain it. For example, if you are paying an electric bill, let them know why you need to pay it and how much you are writing the check for. Let them help you write where the numbers should go and then show them how to subtract (debit/withdrawals) or add (credit/deposit). I highly recommend letting your child get a savings account. Most banks will let a child open up an account for as little as $10.
Where Food Comes From/How to Grow Your Own Food
Many kids nowadays have no idea where food comes from. Explain that the grocery store is a not a producer of food and that McDonald’s isn’t a farm. Try to give your kids the opportunity to visit a farm or even start a garden together as a family. There are programs popping up all over the country that are made to teach kids where food comes from. If you don’t have a place to have your own garden, or maybe don’t have the time or desire, call your city office or town hall to see if there is a community garden that you could participate in with your child.
How To Find Information
It’s important to know how to find information. Teach your child how to use the internet to find information safely, or how to find people and places where they could learn more about a topic.
How To Drive Safely
Safe driving skills can begin long before your child is legally allowed to get behind the wheel. Teach them always to put on a seatbelt and explain why it’s important to do so. Explain why you slow down when the light turns yellow instead of speeding up. If they are old enough to handle going to a crash demonstration, let them see what can happen when people aren’t practicing safe driving skills. Teach and even more importantly model that it’s never ok to text and drive.
Life skills are one of the most important lessons that you can teach your child. It can also be one of the easiest skills to teach. One of the best ways to teach life skills is by being a good role model. Your child will learn an abundance of information by watching how you walk through life. The life lessons we mentioned above are just the tip of the iceberg for what you can teach your child. Think of every day as a new opportunity to teach and model life skills to your child.
For more fun ways to teach your kids, check out our Top 10 Favorite Kids Workshops.