As homeschoolers, we often concentrate on ensuring our children learn academic skills. However, learning life skills might prove just as valuable, perhaps even more.
One of the first life skills we expose our children to revolves around the home and car. Even before learning to walk securely, children enjoy helping with laundry, sorting pots and pans, and other seated jobs. Beginning early instills good work skills and enables “learn by doing” to become ingrained.
Knowledge and useful skills for all
We teach our sons and daughters basic life skills, including home management. While some might never manage the home, leaving that to a spouse, we feel it’s essential that they know how to do so, should they ever need to. So, boys help with laundry and house cleaning, and girls learn basic household repair.
Where do we begin?
As mentioned, toddlers might already begin helping with laundry. Folding washcloths, sorting laundry into piles, and helping put it away, they learn to pitch in and help Mom.
As they grow, they naturally progress into sorting laundry before it’s washed and folding all types. Young school age children are usually capable of loading the washer and moving to the dryer or helping hang clothes on a line. By the time our children are teens, they are already managing their own laundry, from hamper to putting away.
Not only does this help lighten mom’s laundry chores, more importantly, it teaches children to manage their own clothing. When they need to wash their own clothing, they learn to appreciate the need to care for it properly. And, they learn to keep clothing better maintained.
Meals and groceries
I’m always amazed when an adult cannot cook a basic meal. I grew up helping Mom in the kitchen, just as she did with her mom. Unfortunately, it’s not as common as we might think.
Our children, like so many homeschoolers, grew up helping in the kitchen. Toddlers stir batters, oil pans, and fetch the measuring cups. Before the age of 10, they create basic foods on their own, and young teens prepare entire meals. It’s a learning process and one that doesn’t happen overnight, but encouraging them from an early age allows them to build the skills they will need throughout life.
We are building memories!
A side benefit not to be overlooked is the great joy we receive and memories that are built when we cook together. Daily meal preparation time becomes daily family enjoyment, too.
Additionally, preparing larger meals for family get-togethers and holidays builds more memories and offers opportunities for practicing skills we don’t use every day. Some of my favorite memories revolve around all of us together in the kitchen, preparing for a holiday feast. It might just be my favorite part of any holiday!
Planning and shopping
While our children learn basic cooking skills, they also participate in grocery shopping and meal planning. From the time they are toddlers, we make our list together and head off to the grocery store. Shopping with children might slow the trip a bit, but they are learning critical skills. Price comparison shopping will help them throughout life, as will reading labels and discerning ingredients. Knowing when a fruit is ripe and how to shop in the bulk area might seem trivial, but indeed, attaining competency in food choices, preparation, and cooking will help greatly in their adult life.
We stress food budgeting during the teen years, but the education behind it begins in early childhood as we shop. We price compare and look for sales with our children assisting. This naturally leads to budgeting for our shopping trips and expenses.
Healthy eating, too!
Nutrition finds its way into many areas of our life skills training. It’s a natural fit when planning meals and we expand upon it as we teach health aspects. Sometimes it results from a topic that springs forth either in the news or from a relative or friend’s need. We feel it’s essential and needs to be built upon wherever it appears.
Building life skills day by day
From birth, children learn. Encouraging them to participate in each activity and chore instills skills useful throughout their life.
While, initially, chores take longer with little children assisting, we reap the rewards as they learn and become more helpful. In addition, we assist them in preparing for eventual adulthood.
We teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, for sure. However, we teach life skills that reach far beyond the school years, too.