Thursday, April 24, 2014

Life Skills to Teach Kids (Catching up on the A to Z Challenge!)

By Shelly Burke

Our main job as parents is to work ourselves out of a job…that is, teach our kids how to live productive, independent lives—on their own! Along with teaching your kids to do their own laundry and cook ramen noodles, here are some less-thought-of skills that will be even more valuable in “real life.”

Teach your kids to: 
  • Say “HI” to the janitor. And the waitress. And the check out lady. And the maid at the hotel.
  • Request an extra pillow from the lady at the front desk. Call and order pizza. Check their bank balance by calling the bank. Making a dentist appointment. Ask the produce man how to choose a ripe pineapple or avocado.
  • Make an exchange or a return at the store, or renew a car license at the courthouse. Politely, even if the person behind the counter is not polite.
  • Make small talk. (“Tell me about your job.” “How about those Huskers!” “What about this weather?”)
  • Know when not to talk, but to listen and observe.
  • Introduce people to each other.
  • Know when to apologize and how to apologize, without making excuses.
  • Estimate how much groceries will cost. (As you’re checking out, ask each child to estimate what the final bill will be and write it down without letting anyone see. The one who has the most accurate estimate doesn’t have to help take the groceries in.)
  • Comparison shop.
  • Read a map. A paper map (maybe in a book called an “Atlas”).
  • Pound in a nail…without a hammer. Screw in a screw…without a screwdriver. Pull out a nail…without a hammer. Hem a pair of pants…without a needle and thread. (Answers: hard heel of a shoe, knife, fork, duct tape.)
  • Play a record on a record player. (When Morgan’s pre-school teacher did this, Morgan came home excited about huge “CD” her teacher had that was “this big!”)
  • Write a letter. By hand. With a pen.  Look up the address in the phone book. Address the envelope and stamp it. Take it to the post office and mail it.
  • Use the Yellow Pages. The ones made of paper, not on a screen!
  • Check the oil level in a car. Jump a car battery. Change a tire.

 “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6

What practical skills do you have to add to this list? Please leave your suggestion in the "Comment" section below!

I’m also blogging the A to Z Challenge at Nebraska Family Times Check it out! 


  1. I have focused on teaching my daughter to be polite and responsible. Many of the things you mention fall into one of these categories. She is 16, and although my job isn't done yet, at this point there is just fine tuning to be done.

    1. Sounds like you've done a great job with your daughter, Fancy! Many of the skills overlap, and being polite and responsible are certainly characteristics our kids need to be successful in life. Thanks for commenting!


Thank you for commenting!