Parents love to put school-aged children in different sports and activities to help them grow and develop their social skills and become well-rounded individuals. But, alongside these extra-curricular activities and basics like potty training, tests to teach basic dexterity, and lessons about behaving in an appropriate manner, there are some life skills that every child should be taught.
Some of these skills are critical, others simply provide children with useful tools they’ll need when they get older and have to enter the real world or interact with others beyond their inner circle.
Some kids have a harder time learning certain skills than others. Yet, it’s up to the parents to engrain good habits in kids from an early age and make teaching their kids some important life skills high up on the list of lessons.
Here are 10 life skills every school-aged child should have or be working towards.
10 Riding a Bike
Every child should, at some point, be taught how to ride a bike. Beyond the benefit of exercise and being able to go out independently with friends and family for rides, riding a bike teaches kids much more. They learn about perseverance, facing fears, and that they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
Learning to ride a bike is a milestone in many kids’ lives, and the sense of accomplishment both they and their parents feel once the child is finally able to remove those training wheels and ride freely down the sidewalk or trail is worth every minute of patience invested in teaching them this skill.
9 Blowing Their Nose
It sounds like second nature to us, but kids don’t understand the concept of blowing their nose until you teach them. As a baby or even a toddler, mom and dad would use a nasal aspirator to remove guck from inside the nasal cavity if there was a blockage. But, once a child reaches school age, he or she needs to be taught how to do it themselves.
Learning the concept of pushing pressure out from his nose, holding a Kleenex up to their face, and catching the nasty boogers is a life skill that will help kids feel better when they have a cold or are stuffed up. A little saline solution can help soften things up, but, once kids have mastered this concept, hopefully the nose-picking will come to an end!
8 How to Dial 9-1-1
Every child should learn how to dial 9-1-1; when to dial 9-1-1, and the importance of never misusing these three digits.
In this day and age, with households that don’t have a landline, this might require also teaching kids how to scroll up or press and hold a button on a locked smartphone to pull up the emergency call feature in the case of an emergency where they are the only ones able to make a call. Whatever the method, teaching kids what 9-1-1 is used for is a life skill they will appreciate having should they ever have to use it.
7 Being Able to Swim
Learning to swim might take years of lessons, while some kids have a natural aptitude for it. Nonetheless, learning not only how to swim, but proper safety measures, as well as how to help someone who might be drowning, are important skills that kids should be taught either in lessons or by their parents.
If you don’t have a pool at home, or even if you do, consider enrolling the child in lessons at the local community center, or just take them there during public swim hours and teach them the basics. The more familiar kids get with being in water from a young age, the more comfortable they will be in water. Plus, being able to survive in water is a critical life skill.
6 Understanding Manners
Knowing when to say “please” and “thank you” and not chewing with your mouth open seem like a no-brainers, but it’s amazing how many children lack these basic life skills. Being polite and having manners will take you far in life, both for kids and adults. So, teaching kids repeatedly to say these words early on will make it second nature to them.
Teach them not only to say these words to others when out and about, but also at home. Whether it’s to a brother who passed the potatoes at dinner or to mom for helping them with homework, good manners are always appropriate.
5 Household Chores and Handy Work
It’s amazing how many kids get to college and don’t know how to do things like separate, wash fold clothes, make eggs or boil water, or hammer a nail. Kids should be taught these basics at as young an age as possible.
Maybe these things aren’t part of their own list of chores. Still, it's a good idea to have them nearby while you do them so they can learn how to separate whites from colours and delicates from regular loads, how to properly cook pasta, and the right way to boil or fry an egg. They’ll thank you when they’re older for teaching them these basic yet important life skills.
4 What To Do If Approached By a Stranger
Kids, especially ones who are particularly social, are naïve, and they might not realize the concept of “stranger danger.” Kids should be taught from a young age what to do if they are approached by a stranger while playing at the park, or even on their own front lawn.
This goes along with other basic safety tips like never to open the door for strangers, especially if mom and dad aren’t home or upstairs or are in another room, how to find an employee if they are lost in a public place, never to take food from strangers, and to always find a trusted adult.
3 How to Save Money
Kids don’t usually have a great concept of money, much less how and why to save it. To them, things simply appear in the house, whether it’s food, clothing, toys, or party supplies. Teach them early how and why to save money. Set up a bank account for them, get them a piggy bank, and help them learn how to save.
When they want a special toy or video game, work with them to save up the money so they can buy it themselves or contribute to the cost, whether it’s with funds from birthdays and Christmas, change from the piggy bank, money from the tooth fairy, or money they get from doing chores. Having a healthy view of money and saving will go a long way for them in life.
2 How To Tie Their Shoes
Kids wear Velcro shoes for much of their toddler years, and maybe even through kindergarten. But, once they get older, it’s time to buy them shoes with laces and teach them that old bunny ears method of how to tie them.
There are toys and activities kids can use to practice the process of tying before they tackle their runners. Alternatively, you could have them play games which reinforce these concepts so they have it down pat in time for taking their snazzy new shoes to school in the new school year.
1 How to Brush Their Own Teeth
Brushing one’s teeth is important and should be done at least twice a day. Kids will need help to understand how to properly brush all four sides, top and bottom, as well as their front teeth, and tongue. Kids tend to like to race through this task, so teaching them a song they can sing to help them understand how long they need to brush and proper brushing techniques can be helpful.
Also helpful are electric toothbrushes that will buzz or play a chime when it’s time to switch or when brushing is over. Nonetheless, being able to properly brush one’s teeth is an important skill that kids should have before they enter adulthood.