Important Life Skills for Kids
Whether your kids are in the ‘exploring their pack and play’ stage, learning to ride their bike around the neighborhood, or out tackling the adventures of life on their own – they all want to explore their world. As a parent, I want to equip my kids with skill sets that will let them tackle their neighborhood today and the world tomorrow – with confidence! There are some basic life skills that are important to teach our kids so they can become fully functioning adults.
Important Life Skills for Kids
How to Boil Water:
All kids should learn how to boil water. This simple skill allows them to make hot chocolate, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, and of course – Ramen Noodles!
Ride a Bike:
If you can ride a bike, you can travel the world. Many countries don’t rely on cars the way we do in America. Bikes require no gasoline, minimum upkeep and will get you anywhere you need to go in a pinch. When we visited the Bahamas after we got married, we weren’t even old enough to rent a car. But we could have rented bicycles!
If you can read, you can figure out almost anything. You can decipher instruction manuals, learn how to assemble a child’s toy, go on adventures in far-off places, and figure out how to master a Xbox game.
A well-asked question will get you the answers you need to navigate life. Anyone with a teenager knows that it’s all about the question. If you ask a question that can be answered with a yes or no, you will never get full information. But if you phrase the question correctly – you can discover a wealth of information.
There’s a reason we have 2 ears and only 1 mouth. Listen to what your kids tell you and then rephrase it for them so they can learn from your actions. Listening is not a passive experience. We need to teach our kids that when we really listen, we put down the phone, close the computer and look them in the eye. Listening is something that requires our full attention and is a skill to be practiced.
How to Make Healthy Choices
Our kids need to learn that healthy lifestyle choices are not just for adults. They need to be active every day so they can avoid some of the health issues that our generation faces. Take time to go swimming or hiking on a family outing. Go outside and play cornhole after supper instead of playing electronics. Keep fresh fruit out on the counter so it is readily available for healthy snacks. Find what works best for you and make sure the kids are living an active lifestyle!
If your family has Fitbits, then make sure you check out the family challenges you can start each week. This is a great way to compete for active steps each week!
Swimming can be plain fun. But it can also be a way to earn money (summer lifeguard anyone?), save a life, provide great exercise and stay healthy.
Yes, this is an important skill. Kids need to have the knowledge of how to dial a number on the phone, talk to the person on the other end and make an intelligent order. If they can order a pepperoni pizza on the phone, then you can be confident they will be able to handle other phone calls down the road. A simple pizza order requires them to remember what they are ordering, speak clearly so the person on the other end can understand them, and complete a financial transaction on the phone.
Order from a menu:
When we go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant, we help our kids decide on their orders. Then when it’s time to order, they place their own order with the waitress. We’ve practiced so they are ready and able to answer the questions of what sides they want and any side dressings or condiments. They need to learn this skill now so they will be able to go on field trips or outings with others as they get older. We don’t want them to be intimidated by a menu.
Manage a bank account:
Even young children can start working on this life skill. Whether you start a savings account where they deposit birthday money and special gifts periodically throughout the year or help them establish an A+ Savings account at a local bank. A savings account is a great way to learn how the banking system works.
Kids that learn how to manage a small amount of money when they are young are more likely to intelligently handle a full checking account and future credit cards when they are on their own.
Find a book in the library:
Most of us remember the old card catalog and the process of looking up books in the libraries. Now the kids get to do a search on the computer and find the books they want. But they still have to know how to read those numbers and look for the books on the shelf. . Next time you go to the library with your kids, take a minute to introduce them to the letters and numbers that will help them find their books. Then give them an assignment to see if they can find a particular book on the shelf Just because books are now cataloged on the computer systems, it’s still important for kids to understand how to search for a book and find it on the shelf.
Use a Coupon:
Our kids are learning the value of a coupon. I sometimes take just one child with me shopping and let them help me use my coupons. They can understand the importance of matching the item with the coupon and get to check the expiration date. When they see that the coupon is worth money, it helps them understand the cost of food.
What skills do you think are important for kids to learn? I’d love to hear from you!
Learn how to use the public transit. Most families have one car, but it is claimed by one or the other parent, unavailable to a child even unto 16 years old, if that young. But kids ride the school bus every day. This is the primer for riding the city bus: learning where the buses to go and mapping out how to get from point A to point B.
I used to ride the bus to and from school (Marching Band after school). I would ride it to the Red Cross center to volunteer. I rode it to my university. If they had had bicycle racks in the 1980’s, I would have ridden my bike on campus every day because I could take it on the bus.
In 1994, our blizzard in Louisville, KY reached 22 inches. Even though I dug my parents’ car out and my own car out, none of us could drive out onto the street. Mom was at the end of her tether and yelling about how would we get groceries?? Dad was frail and couldn’t go out. I waited till Mom settled down and I said, “Just give me some money and a list, and I’ll get you the groceries.” I trudged to the bus stop 2 blocks away and picked up the next bus, which whisked me right in front of the grocery. I bought, waited for the return bus, and trudged back home with the goods. It was hard for me to think that Mom could only think of the car for transportation. But it happens.
Learn the basics about car care:
Change a tire
Change a windshield wiper
Check the fluids and read an oil dipstick
Put fluids in the car in the proper way
Jump start a battery
read the dash gauges
Drive both a manual and an automatic transmission car
Also these: use silicone spray on the rubber gaskets to prevent door sticking
Use lithium grease to spray door hinges so they don’t squeak. (lithium grease also helps a squeaky bike kickstand)
Don’t use Coca Cola for anything but drinking (but even avoid that if you can).
Don’t put anything in your gas tank except proper fuel.
Learn about homeowner DIY projects, including changing a backset in a door, checking how airtight a house is and how the air moves in your home, having the right capacity of air flow in your bathroom fan. These are but a few. You can even learn how to change a toilet commode if not do it yet. Change a HVAC air filter.
I learned how to cook eggs various ways from my father (who always asked me if I wanted a hard-fried egg–my favorite–if his over-easy egg broke), and also how to cook a hamburger.
Learn to research with keywords in a library, including periodicals and professional journals.
Each child should have a set of tools of his or her own. At least: a hammer, 4 plier set, Vice Grips, utility knife, multitool, and a multi-bit set with a screwdriver handle of your choice. Flathead and Philips head screwdriver bits. And a saw. And a measuring tape. A little one and a big one. And how to use each. Another thing I wish I had and I recommend, is a manual drill. Like this Fiskars beauty: http://bit.ly/1mP53mj
Sew a button, sew a blanket stitch, sew a blind hem stitch by hand. How to thread; how to knot. How to tie off.
I think that’s enough. Right now.