The term “life skills” seems to be thrown around often in the homeschool community. Sometimes we are serious as we all feel teaching life skills is important and sometimes we enjoy using it as a way to teach school and accomplish household chores at the same time. “We skipped science today so we could all clean the house. Life skills are school too, right?”
Have you ever said anything like that before? I have!
What I’d like to do with this post, is take a closer look at what life skills are and why they are important as well as provide a couple of checklists for you to consider in your daily routines.
Teaching Life Skills Should Not be Overlooked
So, what exactly are life skills?
By definition, it is “a skill that is necessary or desirable for full participation in everyday life.”
Yes, academics are important. Our children need to know how to read, balance a checkbook, and have an idea of where we are in the world, but unless they are going into the medical profession, they do not need to know what our blood consists of in order to function in everyday life.
What kind of skills DO they need to have in order to function in everyday life? Enter the “how to teach life skills” question!
Teaching life skills would be teaching things that help them in their relationships with others as well as their own personal well being and that of their environment.
Life Skill Activities for Kindergarten
Everyone has their own ideas on how to go about teaching life skills and what those skills should consist of. In an effort to include multiple points of view, I pulled these suggestions from various sites and will list them at the end of the post.
Let’s begin with life skill activities for kindergarten!
- Manners- most people think of please and thank you when they hear the term manners, but it is so much more. Covering your mouth when you sneeze, holding the door for the person behind you, taking one cookie instead of a handful when offered a snack at the neighbor’s, and responding appropriately when an adult is speaking to you.
- How to Share- this is something that takes a lifetime to learn, but young kids tend to be more ego centrical than the rest of us because they simply are not mature enough not to be. Encourage and teach your child how to share, but do not become angry or impatient. It is a learning process and example will be your most successful teacher.
- Focus and Self- Control- creating schedules, habits, and routines, will help your child learn to finish a task and follow directions. Be consistent in teaching them to walk while indoors or use inside voices. Encourage them to learn to control (not suppress) their emotions. It is great to be excited but let’s not scream about it in the house. It is ok to be angry, but not to throw your toys as a way of expressing it. This teaches them self- control.
- Teach Resilience- it’s ok to fail or do it wrong, it’s ok to try something new even if you are afraid, and yes it is ok that your toy broke because you threw it, next time you will be more careful.
- Learn to Swim
- Learn to jump rope, ride a bike, and tie shoes
- Learn how to call 911 as well as other important adults
- Pour their own drink and milk into a bowl
- Feed and water pets
Teaching Life Skills in Primary School and Middle School
Teaching life skills in primary school is when things really get fun! From teaching them how to peel potatoes to supervising them baking a cake completely by themselves, their budding independence is something to be proud of!
Along with independence comes responsibility. First, learning to be responsible for themselves and later for others. Obviously these lists will blend according to the age and maturity of your child. Also, many of these are ongoing lessons that we first model in young children and later encourage and expect.
- Learn to be responsible for their own toys and devices. They need to learn to clean up after themselves as well as treat their items with care. We have this problem after swim lessons. It is my son’s job to put his wet suit and towel into the dirty clothes so it will be washed before his next lesson. Often times lesson day comes and his wet stuff is still in his bag.
- Learn to be responsible for their actions. If they lose their temper and throw a handful of legos, they clean them up. If they are goofing off and spill their water at dinner, yep, they clean it up.
- Time management skills. Teaching life skills is not something that is perfected overnight and I find time management skills is one of those that happen over time. Prompts like no screen time until schoolwork is finished and working on reports and projects a little every day to prevent panic the night before they are due set the stage for time management skills.
- To do their best no matter how important or boring a task is. Learning to work hard and take pride in a job well done will serve them well in all areas of life. Hess Un-Academy has a good post on this subject.
- Managing money and basic budgeting. I know that everyone has a different opinion on allowances, but this is the main reason we give our children one. They do chores which earns them money (just like the real world only they receive unfair wages lol). They learn to save their money for items they want and budget their allowance to get the items they want now. I keep the amount low because I feel that we are a family and we should all work together for the benefit of us as a whole. I never want them to expect to be paid for helping out.
- Cleaning and basic household chores. They need to learn to do everything from dishes to laundry. Choose what you feel is age-appropriate and work on new skills one at a time. Have you ever heard of a home blessing day? Check out this great post by the Proverbial Homemaker!
- Personal grooming. From flossing to showering to deodorant.
- How to eat healthy, exercise, and make wise choices for their bodies.
Basic Life Skills List for Teenagers
I just want to remind you again that everyone has different priorities when it comes to life skills. Take a few moments to talk to your spouse about things you both feel are important that your child learns before leaving the nest. Also, be prayerful!
Ok! Last on our list of teaching life skills is basic life skills for teenagers.
- Cleanliness and Hygiene. Shaving, regular haircuts, cleaning toilets, and keeping rooms and clothes clean.
- Basic First Aid. How to bandage a cut, appropriate doses for pain relievers, when to go to the doctor, how to take their own temperature, how to be responsible with cold medicine etc.
- Learning to value people and relationships in their lives. Visit elderly neighbors and grandparents, pursue friendships, and respect parents, siblings and other family members. Learn to ask forgiveness and forgive those who have wronged them as well as caring and compassion to those around them.
- Learning to value themselves. They are loved, a gift, valuable, and important. An excellent post is 10 Essential Life Skills I Want My Daughters to Know by Raising Royalty
- How to manage a home. Paying utilities, fixing simple problems such as a broken circuit or faucet, keeping the house clean and safe (keeping drugs and chemicals out of reach of children and pets).
- How to make decisions based on good judgment, the word of God, experience, and mature adults.
- How to prepare for job interviews, applications, and important face to face meetings. The importance of eye contact and a firm handshake.
- Internet smarts. And I don’t mean how to search. The internet is a wonderful resource, but we also know it is a dangerous place. Teaching our teens how to stay away from sinful content, how to manage the pressures of social media, and how to set limits to control their usage is something my generation never dreamed of at that age. By this point, I am sure you have already instructed your child about safety online as far as never giving personal information etc. Continue to reinforce those guidelines.
- Basic car care. How to check the oil, change a tire etc.
Thumbs Up to Homeschooling for Providing Opportunity to Teach Life Skills Every Day
One of the best things about homeschooling is the amount of time we get to spend with our children. We get to interact, teach, embrace, and enjoy being with them all day.
Sure, some days we get a little cranky with each other, but that’s life, isn’t it? In the end, home is a place my children are loved, valued, and appreciated and they know it. There is no better atmosphere for teaching life skills than that!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. What life skills do you find important? Leave your thoughts in the comments below 🙂
Here are a couple of sites that I took ideas from for this post. Other sites are listed in the post itself 🙂
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