Life skills are valuable, and quite often, essential tools for navigating life successfully. As adults, we spend our time practicing these life skills, investing in a balance of efficiency and practicality, for the best results in our individual situations. If asked, many of us could look back and spot which life skills we learned on our own–usually the hard way as adults–while also noticing which skills we were taught as students. While not every life skill can be thoroughly learned as kids, many can be covered in a safe environment. The teenage years can be difficult for both parent and teen, and sometimes, attempts to teach these important life lessons are met with resistance. Still, life skills are better learned while in an environment where your student is safe to fail. As homeschooling parents, if we start working on a life skills checklist while our children are young, these practical tools will be much easier to teach and refine once they are high schoolers.
Every job in life is done best when taught with a series of tips and tricks for the most successful outcome. Similarly, life skills are the recommended suggestions for navigating life with the best results. What counts as life skills? The general values include money management, online safety, taxes, smart shopping habits, domestic tasks (cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard care), grocery shopping, and so on. The list could include far more, or less, depending on your child’s age. In the end, these values impart guidance for our decisions in life. As adults, we must know how to manage our money, or we will soon run into issues with bills. Similarly, we all have to file taxes, make healthy choices, and know how to keep our living space hygienic and comfortable. Life skills involve a level of responsibility, but most importantly, they revolve around learning to take care of ourselves and to become a polite, contributing member of society.
Homeschool home economics is a fantastic way to introduce the value of life skills. It’s common for homeschooling parents to procrastinate life skills for kids when they are already focused on their core homeschooling curriculum and electives. With young children, it’s a natural response to tell yourself there will be ample time available for life skills in a few years, and push it to a back burner, so to speak. While this is true, it can be easier to start introducing simple concepts with young children. These values simply provide a foundation for your homeschool home economics later on. Regardless of when you begin teaching your children life skills, all of us would agree that they are important. These skills give us a framework for continued education, personal and career decisions, and business matters. As an example, money management skills can make the difference between spinning out of control in an abyss of debt and having a debt-free budget in place with emergency savings.
Let’s look further into life skills for kids, as well as life skills activities for high school students.
How Do You Teach Kids Life Skills?
Life skills for kids do not have to be complicated. Homeschool parents may be overwhelmed by the vast number of skills and values their children eventually need to know, and consequently, may feel paralyzed in getting started at all. It’s okay, that’s normal. Take a deep breath, and remember that your child has many, many years to learn all about life skills. You can start slow with simple ideas. It’s typically quite helpful for parents to narrow down a list of life skills for kids to even just two life values. Silence the rest of the values bouncing through your head, which have now become a staggering anthem of white noise. You have the life skills checklist, you’ve chosen what to work with first — allow yourself to relax. Rest assured that you won’t forget the rest. For now, they can fall to the wayside while you focus on one or two concepts at this moment.
Homeschool home economics can easily begin in elementary school, even with the smallest topics. Anything new your child learns is something previously unknown to them, and therefore, a triumph. Additionally, every new life value is a step toward learning more about the flow of life and responsibility. Undoubtedly, you will feel a surge of pride when your little one shows mastery over these life skills. Everyone has to start somewhere!
An example of life skills for kids is memorization practice. There are a few non-negotiable things your child absolutely must remember for their safety. Consider a daily or weekly practice of their full name, their parents’ names, their home address, and a parent’s phone number. It could also be helpful to make your child aware of landmarks near their home in case they find themselves lost.
We’ve compiled a list of practical and important life skills to start working toward with your children today!
- The Importance of Health. Even when your children are still young, you can begin showing them the importance of making healthy choices. Likewise, they will start understanding the difference between unhealthy and healthy. At the very least, young children should develop an awareness of considering whether something is healthy and asking a parent for clarification.
- How to Behave in Public. Behaving properly in public is a key life skill for children, and should be well-understood by the time they are preteens. The process of making good choices in public revolves around an understanding of respect and how to interact with people. Parents will want to cover what is appropriate behavior or conversation, which topics or actions stay at home, and what is considered rude versus helpful. In general, an important life skill for children is basic manners.
- The Process of Grocery Shopping. Of course, we don’t expect kids to be masters at grocery shopping (I feel like I barely have it down as an adult!), but it’s a good idea for them to understand how it works, what is expected, what is not permitted, how to find the best deals, and so on. Grocery shopping can absolutely become a part of homeschool home economics!
- Cleaning Up After Themselves. Kids should learn that if they make a mess, they need to clean it up. If they finish a meal, they should take their plate to the kitchen, and make sure they aren’t leaving napkins and crumbs behind. It’s not difficult, and they will catch on quickly, especially when practiced with a life skills checklist.
- Preparing Simple Food for Themselves. While children cooking in the kitchen is somewhat of a safety issue, there are certain foods they should be able to prepare for themselves. For example, they should easily be able to make PB&J sandwiches. With a parent’s supervision, they could also learn other food preparation such as boxed macaroni and cheese, cheese quesadillas, and perhaps even baking a box cake mix!
- The Basic Value of Money. It can be difficult even for adults to learn money management, but it’s easier if you start with the basics with kids! Cover topics like the value of each coin and bill, saving their allowances, and comparing the prices of various items. If you’d like to encourage your child to save for a more expensive toy, consider matching their savings as a reward.
- Appreciating a Clean House/Dishes/Clothes. When considering life skills for kids, an important value is appreciation. Certain parents impress the appreciation for a clean house by assigning chores to their children. Others, however, may choose to ask their children for help with the household chores on occasion. Regardless of whichever works best for your family, it is important to demonstrate the invested time and effort. Our end goal is to help children understand the work and express genuine appreciation, rather than feeling entitled to a parent taking care of everything.
Life Skills Activities for High School Students
A high school life skills curriculum will look far different than one for younger students. The expectations are higher for teens, and in general, their level of responsibility has increased incrementally. Life skills for teens are taken more seriously, as they are similar — if not exact — to the life skills utilized by working adults. High school is the age to learn practical lessons and guidelines to help consumers succeed. Homeschool home economics is an important study to continue throughout the teen years, and also an easy way to usher in the building and developing of helpful life values.
Throughout your high school life skills curriculum, a life skills checklist for teens will likely feature as your most visual guideline for achievable goals. Life skills activities for high school students often extend beyond helping out around the house. Most often, it is helpful to leave the full responsibility to your high schoolers for skills such as preparing occasional meals, stopping by stores for a few groceries, enrolling in a self-defense class, taking a money management course, and so on. However, every life skill is dependent on the situation and individual teens, considering everyone learns differently and at their own pace. Review your student’s level and build from there. Even with the most mature or advanced high schoolers, it can still be immensely beneficial to work together as parent and student, even with menial tasks! The quality time creates wonderful memories and may help strengthen your parent-teen bond
Here are a few of our top life skills for teens to cover in your homeschool home economics!
- Cooking Basic Meals. How often have you heard the woeful tale of a college student being incapable of preparing a simple meal for themselves? This doesn’t have to be the case with basic cooking lessons as a teen. If high schoolers can learn how to follow a recipe and understand general cooking terms, they will be able to cook most meals themselves.
- Budgeting and Finances. Money management is incredibly important for all adults. High schoolers need to learn what a budget is and how to use one. There are plenty of budgeting or finance courses available from community colleges, as well as digital programs to help teens learn how to responsibly manage their paychecks and savings.
- Doing Their Laundry. Laundry isn’t rocket science, but it’s still a necessary task among life skills for teens. High schoolers would do well to learn about separating their clothes into like colors and fabrics, as well as the difference in water temperatures and types of detergent for the various loads of laundry.
- Personal Healthcare Skills. It’s a good idea to teach teens about properly caring for themselves when they are sick or need First Aid treatment. Additionally, knowing how to make a doctor’s appointment for themselves, what to bring to the doctor, and how to use health insurance, are all helpful and important life skills. What better chance to have a homeschool home economics lesson?
- How to Be A Good Employee. Even if your teen hasn’t had experience in the job field yet, they should know the importance of showing up on time, giving plenty of notice before requesting time off, being respectful, and the value of a job regardless of whether it’s glamorous.
- Vehicle Care Awareness. Many of us don’t know how to fix our cars as adults, let alone when we were 18. However, if your teen owns a car, it’s a good idea for them to know when and where to take their car for oil changes, repairs, and who to call when their car breaks down or has a flat tire. If your teen is going to be on the road, an awareness of vehicle maintenance is essential for a life skills checklist.
- Filing Taxes. How many of us adults did not learn how to file our taxes in high school, and wish we had? Taxes are a dreaded but necessary part of life, and as a future working adult, your high schooler is going to need to know basic terminology and how to handle their taxes.
Recognizing the Importance of Life Skills for All Ages
Life skills may initially seem like nothing more than common sense, but they contribute much more to our daily lives. Whether you are working on life skills for kids or life skills for teens, those hours of study and practice will be invaluable in the future as an adult. Even greater, though, will be the memories your child will cherish of their parents taking the time to teach them. Children may not appreciate your efforts for practical life lessons now, but they will be grateful for them when those skills come into play later on. By imparting life values to your children, you are setting them up for success as high schoolers, college students, working adults, and even as future parents. What an opportunity!
We know many of you have already begun teaching your children life skills, and we’d love to know what you have covered so far! Please share your experience in the comments below.