Our lives are so crazy busy these days and for many people their children are not with them the majority of their waking hours. As a result, teaching life skills gets put to the back burner in favor of academics or sports. But is this really beneficial to the child? (or to the parent?) I believe the answer is no.
How many skills do you use every day just to get by in life? Do you cook, clean, do laundry, pay bills, do home maintenance and grocery shop? How many of these things are you actively teaching to your children? In most of my articles I address homeschooling families but this one should be read by all parents, because like it or not, no one but you is responsible for teaching your kids these skills.
So, as busy parents how do you go about teaching these essential skills to your kids? Well, quite honestly, sometimes its not that easy upfront. When you’re cooking or cleaning it would be much easier to simply tell them to go on and do the job by yourself. But that’s not helpful to them or to you in the long run. So just letting them “help” is your first step. Sometimes you may have to make them help if they are more interested in something else.
Then as they are helping start explaining what you are doing and why (depending on the age). For example I might say as I’m making biscuits, “now I put 2 cups of flour in, 3 teaspoons of baking powder, ect…” They might not really understand what a cup of flour is but when they do it enough times it starts to make sense. I’ve also taught them to do things like crack eggs at a very young age. Jake (7) is an excellent egg cracker and has been for at least 2-3 years.
Ask them how they think things work or how something should be fixed. You might be surprised at how intuitive they are. (And you’ll probably get some funny answers in the process.) When they answer, then elaborate on how it does work or how it really should be fixed. Don’t underestimate a child’s ingenuity. Its only been recently (and really on in America) that children have been separated from day to day work with their parents.
One of our favorite books is “Farmer Boy” and it is absolutely amazing the things he was responsible at 9 years old. Do you think his parents were cruel for expecting that or did they instead empower him to become a pioneer? What do you want for your child? Someone who isn’t capable of living alone or providing for a family’s needs or an independent individual who has a load of skills in their tool belt and has been taught how to learn anything they don’t know?
So what should you be teaching? Well, this list is by no means exhaustive, but its a start: cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, bill paying, home maintenance, vehicle maintenance, basic first aid, basic childcare, ect… I would go on to add that small engine repair, electrical wiring, basic carpentry and basic plumbing would also be wonderful to add in!
Are you already doing this? Or is it something you’d like to add in? Were there things you wished you had learned as a child instead of learning them as an adult?