What life skills do you want to pass down to your kids? This will look differently in each home. Since every family is different, parents will value some skills over others. Here is a comprehensive list to help you get started: 50 Life Skills That Should Be Taught At Home.
My purpose for this post is to give you ideas for skills that you would like your kids to confidently perform before they leave your home. Homeschooling is not only about academic work. It should be preparation for life! And since each family has it’s own flavor and preferences, zero in on the life skills that are most important to YOU and your spouse! Let this be a launching point for you to determine the types of values you want to pass down to the next generation.
Video: What Life Skills Should Be Taught At Home?
1. Meal preparation and making a grocery list. Show kids a list of meals you make often. Give them an opportunity to plan some meals and also make a list of all the items they will need to buy. Remind them to look in the refrigerator and pantry to see which items you already have.
2. Grocery shop. Take your kids with you when you go grocery shopping. Let this be a regular part of life for them. They should learn how to make change from $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100. Challenge them to round to the next dollar and estimate the total amount of all the items in your basket. This can be like a game to them. Show them how to comparison shop. Give them a calculator and show them how to figure the price per unit and compare.
3. Follow a recipe. Help your kids understand specific terms when following a recipe. Following a recipe is a great way for them to learn about measurements. Teach them the difference between measuring capacity and weight. Show them the differences of measuring in metric vs. U.S. Customary.
4. Make a meal from start to finish and clean up afterwards! The only way to get good at this skill is with lots of practice! So give them the chance to try a lot of different dishes. Cooking is chemistry! They will learn so much from observing how different mixtures interact with each other and what happens when certain substances are heated a certain way.
5. Basic kitchen skills. Model for them how peel vegetables, use a can opener, crack an egg, thicken soup, make rice and oatmeal, brown ground beef, soften butter, make simple eggs, check the temperature of meat.
6. Wash dishes. This includes hand washing and drying dishes as well as loading/unloading a dishwasher and putting the dishes away.
7. Follow a schedule for cleaning. I feel that this is especially important for kids who tend to be too immature to understand the regular need for keeping order. If the house was left up to them, they would clean it when it was disastrous, rather than doing a little cleaning every day. For cleaning and organization not to be an overwhelming task, it should be done every day. A simple chore chart can help kids understand the daily cleaning that should happen in a home.
8. Clean Floors. Kids should be able to vacuum a room well, including using a handle for corners. They should be able to sweep and mop a floor satisfactorily.
9. Clean a bathroom. Teach kids how to clean a toilet (top to bottom), use a plunger, wash countertops, clean out a shower, change hand towels, stock up toilet paper, throw away empty shampoo and conditioner bottles, empty the trash.
10. Polish windows and glass surfaces. Give them some good old-fashioned vinegar/water spray and newspaper and tell them to scrub until the fingerprints disappear.
11. Dust. Show your kids what is involved in keeping a home dust free. Dust surfaces, baseboards, cobwebs on ceiling, wipe down walls/door knobs, use a broom for outdoor cobwebs in crevices.
12. Organize a closet or drawer. For some kids this will come more naturally than others. I have found the best way to organize is to take everything out and start with a clean slate. Model for them how to sort items into categories and how to decide what to keep and what to give away.
13. Make the bed every day. If the bed is made, it automatically makes the room look a little less messy. It is one thing you can do every day to start the day on the right foot.
14. Keep a room clean. No explanation needed, just practice!
15. Personal Hygiene. Shower, dress, deodorant, brush and floss teeth. This seems obvious, but it still surprises me how we have been teaching our kids since they were three years old to get dressed, brush their teeth, and make the bed before breakfast, yet there are still some days when they come down in the morning as if they have never heard this before! Teenagers who hit puberty think you are overbearing when you require them to take showers…(gasp!) every day! Let’s face it, it takes some kids a while to appreciate cleanliness.
16. Do their own laundry. Can your kids wash, dry, and fold their own clothes? Show them how hang dress clothes facing one way in a closet, iron a shirt, organize clothes in their dresser drawers. Do they know how to hang clothes on a line if necessary? Have them switch out their own clothes by season, sorting according to category: give away, throw away, too big/too small.
17. Wash and change bed linens.
18. Natural health and sickness prevention. It was Benjamin Franklin who taught us that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Instill in kids the importance of taking care of their personal health. Here are some ideas to give them a start: take vitamins, wash hands, eat a healthy diet, brush and floss teeth, exercise, spend time outside getting fresh air and sunshine.
19. Use a personal planner. Around middle school, kids’ schedules tend to pick up as they become more involved in sports, hanging out with friends, community events, performances, work, etc. This is a great age to give them a planner and help them learn to write things down.
20 Schedule routine appointments. Before they graduate, kids can learn to schedule their own dentist and doctor appointments. Remind them to show courtesy to businesses by showing up early!
21. Budgeting and money management. Once kids begin to make some money, teach them how to set aside money to save, tithe, spend, and give. Provide opportunities for them to invest their money so they can see the return after a given amount of time. Teach them about compound interest. A good example would be to show them the cost of a house with a 30 year mortgage compared to how much you actually pay after the loan is complete. Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance for Homeschoolers is a great place to start!
22. File Income taxes. Once they have a job, they can begin filing their own income taxes.
23. Manage a bank account. Help them open a savings or checking account at a local bank. This will give them experience keeping a ledger, writing checks, depositing and withdrawing from their account. Help them manage their account with online banking. This is especially helpful when they have to start paying their own bills.
24. Calculate a tip. Show kids how to calculate a tip for a service. Include a lesson about the importance of being generous!
25. Entrepreneurship. In our home, I have found that our kids love to make money! Even from the time they are very little, they ask to help with small jobs. It gives them a sense of power and confidence. We have paid them to make our bed, match socks, and many other odd jobs. When they get older, encourage them to come up with ideas of ways to make money: mow lawns, neighborhood yard work, snow shovel, lemonade stand, bake sale, yard sale, sell items online, walk a neighbor’s dog.
26. Pay bills. One good way to begin learning to budget is to have the responsibility of actually paying a monthly bill. A teenager with a job can start by paying (or contributing) to the car insurance and phone bills.
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27. Look someone in the eye when talking to them. This may seem like a very obvious thing, but try having a conversation with kids these days and it’s not hard to see that this is a skill that is sadly lacking! Encourage them to look someone in the eye then they are talking to them. This is something that can be understood even from a very young age.
28. Talking on the phone. In our age of technology, kids take naturally to writing via text or email, but many of them are intimidated by making a phone call. Give them opportunities to make phone calls, stating their name and the reason for their call. Show them how to answer a phone. Have them order from a restaurant or call in an order from a menu.
29. Writing letters. Letter writing is a lost art it seems, but who doesn’t get excited to see a personalized hand-written letter in the mail from a friend? Letter writing is a great way to maintain long distance friendships, not to mention send sympathy and birthday cards to friends. Writing letters also helps kids to learn the proper form for writing a friendly letter.
30. Complete and return job applications. It is also beneficial to learn to write a professional resume.
31. Prepare for a job interview. Role play the questions and answers that are typically discussed in an interview. A simple google search will give the top job interview questions. Remind them of the importance of dressing well and showing up early for an interview.
32. Fire safety. Have a family discussion about a fire escape plan for your home. Give them specifics about what to do in the event of a fire, including how to use a fire extinguisher. Show them how to check the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and change batteries.
33. Internet safety. Talk with kids about the dangers of pornography, the signs of online predators, proper online etiquette, and other safety measures that are important to your family.
34. Swimming. This is a life saving ability that every child should master.
35. Basic First Aid. Show kids how to clean an open wound, what to do if a person is unresponsive, how to apply pressure to a bleeding injury, what to do in the event that a person is choking.
36. Appliance care. Taking care of appliances will help them last longer. Kids are unlikely to realize this unless you show them. Here are some ideas: add salt to the water softener, empty dehumidifier, change furnace filter, change water filter, empty vacuum, clean an oven, replace light bulbs.
37. Unclog a drain and use a plunger. These are dirty jobs, but important when needed!
38. Use YouTube to fix broken things around the house. Rather than buying a new item every time something breaks, teach your kids how to do simple repairs. They can learn how to replace seat covers on dining room chairs, tighten knobs on hardware, hang a picture, paint a room, use hot glue or super glue for repairs. Kids should become familiar with common tools such as a wrench, screwdriver, and hammer.
39. Basic Lawn Care. What regular work needs to be done outside in your yard? Involve your kids in the job! Younger kids can help pick up sticks, rake leaves, sweep the sidewalk and front porch, weed the garden. Older kids can mow the lawn, trim shrubs and bushes, weed wack, mulch flower beds.
40. Snow Care. In the event of inclement weather, take the kids out with you to shovel snow, brush off the car, and salt the driveway!
41. Basic Car Maintenance. As soon as teenagers get their driver’s license, use this as an opportunity to show them how change a tire, fill the car with gas, change the oil, jumpstart a car with jumper cables.
42. Keep a Car Clean. If they are using the car, they can help keep it clean by vacuuming it out, emptying any trash, and hand washing it or taking it to a car wash.
43. Bike Care. It is really handy for kids to know how to pump a bike tire and fix a bike chain.
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44. Sewing. Not every child will take to sewing, but it can be very helpful to know, at the very least, how to hand sew a basic running stitch and how to sew a button on a shirt. Additionally, simple sewing techniques like threading a machine, hemming a seam, and easy sewing projects are fun to try.
45. Growing and Preserving Their Own Food. Do your kids know where their food comes from? You can give them an appreciation for the convenience of the food they eat by starting a garden. Include them in every step of the process from hoeing, planting, and weeding, to harvesting. They can also help preserve food by learning to can, freeze, or dehydrate it.
46. Read a map and follow a GPS. Additionally, find the four points of direction by using a compass or the sun.
47. Building a Fire. It is not easy to start a fire! Giving them practice will help them build confidence in the event that they would ever need to use this skill.
48. How to be a good neighbor. Simply being friendly with neighbors and initiating conversations goes a long way. Check in with elderly neighbors to see if they need help with yard work or shoveling snow.
49. Recycling. The habit of recycling helps kids learn to care for the environment and be a good steward of what God has given them.
50. Serving. It is human nature to think only of ourselves and our own immediate needs. Teach your kids to look outside themselves and consider the needs of others. Prepare a meal for a sick friend or new mother. Take your kids to the nursing home. Serve at your church or at a local food bank. Finding ways for kids to do things for others will go a long way in teaching them sympathy and kindness.
I hope you gained some inspiration from reading about 50 Life Skills That Should Be Taught At Home. You may also enjoy reading these other posts about important life skills.
Hi, I’m Sheri! I am a Christian saved by grace, married to my high school sweetheart, and a thankful mom to ten incredible kids. I’m a former public school teacher who never thought I would someday be a homeschool mom! Drawing on 13+ years of homeschooling experience, follow along to find help for getting started, tried and true homeschooling advice, life skills learning, simple Morning Time ideas, and interviews with everyday homeschool moms just like you!