5 Tips to Teach Kids Life Skills

Sewing Chair pockets.
SewingI’m really big on teaching my kids life skills.  Right now, I have a 15 year old who’s currently visiting friends in Germany.  She flew there by herself, and is taking trains between cities by herself.  My 12 year old is learning to fill out forms for various activities that she wants to participate in.  My boys are learning housekeeping skills, and animal care.  I’d say my 10 year old is absolutely delighted to be learning to scoop a cat litter box.  Or rather, he’s completely underwhelmed, but he’s doing it anyways.

I spend a lot of time making sure that my kids are learning how to become fully functioning adults. Whether it’s helping them open a bank account- and making them fill out the paperwork, and checking it over for errors, to camping, to cooking, my goal is to deliver kids to the world who can manage in a multicultural, multi-ethic world, with grace, and style.

Here are some tips to teach kids life skills:

  • Doing is learning.  Hands on is always best. It doesn’t matter what the activity is, getting in and doing it is best.  Whether it’s cooking, cleaning, laundry, or taking out the trash, they all require practice.  I have lots of all of the above, in a house with 4 kids, and three adults.  There are always opportunities.
  •  I let my kids fill out the info forms for all sorts of activities as they get older, so they have practice with filling out paperwork.  Let them do it, even if it’s not quite right, not quite neat enough, or you get 500 questions.  I learned with my oldest to start doing this early, as a lot of the paperwork is not as easy as it seems.
  • Practice phone skills.  Have them practice answering the phone and using proper etiquette.  Also have them call people, and deal with businesses as they get a bit older, and have them figure out how to communicate what they want.  Recently, Agent Weaselburger decided she wanted to do gymnastics again, so I made her call the new school to find a time she could go.  She learns by scheduling her own hair appointments and more.  And yes, she is 12.
  • Show them their schedules, and let THEM have a hand in figuring out what goes where.  I bet that they will see where there is time, and where there is not. I used to get a lot more of “I want to do XYZ” from kids, until I made them active participants in the planning. They learn time management, and how long it takes to do things.  They also learn that it takes time to get from one point to another, and that they also have to schedule time to eat.
  • Practice letter writing and note writing skills.  They specifically need to learn how to address envelopes, and put them in the mail.  It seems to be a skill that causes a great deal of consternation in our house, so the kids get extra practice at it.

I try to teach these skills to my own kids, as well as to the kids I work with.  Hands on, life skills.  Adulthood, here they come!  How do you teach kids life skills?

2 Comments

  1. Laurie Bader | | Reply

    You are about to tackle a major life skill as you teach your oldest how to drive. Most of your child’s driving will be city driving to and from school and extracurricular activities. We made a point to let our girls learn interstate and highway driving by taking them on overnight road trips, where our daughters did 95% of the driving. Lance was more courageous than me, he and Natalie drove up to Virginia and then along the Blue Ridge parkway down to Asheville. When Natalie was a senior and ready to graduate, some of her peers had never driven outside of Raleigh and driving to college was their first interstate experience!

    • Haley Gray | | Reply

      Absolutely. Great suggestion! I totally agree that kids need to practice driving on trips before they are set off on their own.

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