Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Life Skills For Children: The Whys, The Hows, and a Checklist to Think About

With two of my children now becoming adults and living out of the home, it's made me think a lot about how well I've prepared them to live in the "real world". There is so much to this job of parenting, isn't there?  There's no way children can not only survive, but thrive in today's world without conscientious, vigilant parenting. Not only is it our duty and obligation to provide for them, but I believe it's crucial to take a proactive approach in teaching them all they need to know to become responsible, hard working, successful adults.

Letting them feel the joy and confidence that comes from learning how to work. The satisfaction of a job well done.

Several years ago, I sat down and pulled together a list of the life skills I felt were important for my children to know. Some of these may seem obvious or a given, but surprisingly, some children never get the opportunity to learn and master some of these simple, basic skills. The things all people should know to be contributing members of a family and society at large. 

As we approach this new year, I'm going to go back to this list again, thinking and planning on ways I can fit in "training sessions" with the three children we have left in our home. Not only pulling a child close to me for a teaching moment, but creating warm memories and strengthening the bonds we have with each other.  Maybe this might be helpful to you, too.

Let's start where we're at. It's now or never!

~healthy food choices (choosing and evaluating)
~planning and making menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner
~using and keeping a shopping list
~shopping smart (budgeting, thrift, comparing prices)
~cooking and baking (snacks, breakfast, lunches, dinners, desserts, canning, etc.)
~setting the table
~good manners
~meal time clean up
~dining out
~planning a party
~tidying the house
~how to use cleaning tools and products
~the cleaning process in each room of the house
dishes, appliances, polishing, organization, sweeping, mopping
toilets, floors, mirrors, sink, bathtub
~living areas
pick up/declutter, dusting, vacuuming, trash, windows, walls
~baby and childcare
~organizing a closet/drawer
~washing, drying, folding, and ironing clothes
~using a laundromat
~cleaning out/ washing the car
~mowing the lawn
~using a trimmer
~raking leaves

~planting and caring for a garden
~using tools
~simple home and car repairs, maintenance
~basic sewing skills (buttons, hems, repairs)

~using public transportation (taxi, bus, subway, airplane)
~getting information from the library or Internet
~using the Yellow pages in the phone book
~talking on the telephone
~packing a suitcase

~“street smarts” (being in a big city, asking for help, finding your way around, reading a map)
~staying safe at home, when interacting with other people, Internet, etc.
~fire, emergency, and earthquake safety and preparedness
~understanding healthy relationships/respect for others
~sex education
~giving a speech or talk
~talking to adults or strangers or making an introduction
~learning to negotiate
~managing conflict appropriately
~stress management
~importance of life long exercise and physical activity
~first aid and treating minor illnesses
~good hygiene
~decision making (choosing wisely, resisting peer pressure, healthy lifestyles)
~critical thinking/analyzing
~time management, goal setting, organization, study skills
~budgeting, using and spending money, saving, paying bills
~earning money
~career choices
~job searching, interviewing skills, making a resume
~filling out forms
~checking account/ ATM/credit cards
~housing expenses
~buying a car

~living with a roommate
~voting and politics
~community service


  1. Thank you for such a comprehensive list. My husband and I do not have children, yet (although we want to with all our hearts, we think it best to finish college first- we are close!), and while I know this will come in handy when I do have children, it also is very helpful for me now. I am almost finished with my education to be a teacher, and life/practical skills are one thing that I think is missing from the education system in general, but I wish that was not so. I have been planning to incorporate them into my lessons, so having this list will really help with that. Thank you, again!

  2. you are amazing. i need to get busy - this is quite the list!

  3. Excellent list! I wrote a similar one a while back, but now I want to revisit it and make sure I didn't miss anything. Thank you! XO

  4. Hi,

    Life skills encompass a variety of concepts such as personal responsibility, management of time, money, and home, decision-making and drug awareness. Teaching children these important life skills have become a part of your child's school education and is best learned when the lessons are also modeled at home. Thank you.