Life Skills — Health, Nutrition, First-Aid

Teaching life skills such as health, nutrition, and first-aid may seem unnecessary to some. In fact, many of us considered the mandatory health class in high school quite annoying. However, our family includes these and more in our homeschool lessons.

Actually, our children begin these life skills prior to most organized schooling. Many of you may also be teaching health and nutrition from an early age.

Life Skills to Toddlers

Very young children learn to eat foods that we provide. Serve chicken nuggets with fries, and they learn to enjoy these fast foods. However, if we provide an array of vegetables and fruit, prepared and served in a healthy combination, our children learn to enjoy these.

Many times parents have commented to me that they wished their children would eat vegetables like mine do. I explain that they will eat them, once they learn to enjoy them. Sugary foods laden with processed ingredients will tempt those who are accustomed to their tastes. Likewise, people will learn to love broccoli and brussel sprouts if that is what they are accustomed to.

As children grow we encourage their nutrition knowledge. Talk about the foods they are eating. Explain why you avoid certain foods. Discuss food fads.

Tie Into Health

Discussing food usually leads to discussing health. Explain how eating nutritious foods and avoiding “junk” food allows the body to grow and function properly. For young children, the conversation remains basic. However, over time, find ways to educate your children on health and nutrition beyond the basics.

Sometimes a website or book may be useful. Our family likes Both of these sites are family friendly and explain plant-based eating and the correlation with health. Old nutrition textbooks contain some useful information, too, but may have misinformation, especially with regard to meat, eggs, and dairy.

By the time your children are teens, they should have a solid understanding of nutrition and its relationship to health. As you prepare meals together, discuss the various foods and how they benefit health and growth. We also discuss foods that are not beneficial, to give a balanced approach to the subject.

First-aid and Emergencies

Most children will experience bumps and bruises as they grow. Often parents treat and bandage, then send the child off to play again.

However, even young children can learn basic first-aid as they go through these life experiences. Explain what type of wound it is, why you treat it as you do, and how to manage the care. Involve your child in his or her own treatment. And, if a sibling is injured, let everyone take part in that learning experience, too. We also discuss how to avoid problems.

But of course, first-aid goes well beyond the need for cleaning a wound and applying a bandage. Even young children can learn basic CPR, wound management, and other first-aid measures. Reading and understanding helps, but active learning with living examples will result in long-term knowledge.

Several organizations, including the Red Cross, offer first-aid training for teens. Some churches do, too. This encourages teens to learn beyond their basics.

All first-aid training, at home or in a class, will help prepare your children for life’s emergencies. It also provides a better understanding of overall health issues.

Focus: Health, Nutrition, First-Aid Life Skills

Taking care of our bodies as the temple of God begins before birth and continues throughout our lives. Teaching our children these skills enables them to begin a healthy start early in life. A healthy lifestyle that begins early will serve them well.

”Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body,” I Corinthians 6:19, 20.

Mundane Days of Faithfulness

The winter months — with recovery from the holidays, colder temperatures, and the end of the school year seeming so far off — are often when students appear to struggle. For parents the colder, shorter days can be seen as days to get through in order to get to the days which are warmer and longer. In the winter months in the midwest, it’s a time of rest for the land and the plants; even cows and chickens take a break from producing milk and eggs. The winter is a sustained period of time where not much appears to be happening, but it’s a crucial time in the farming process. Just as the farmer has a time without the appearance of success, so too, families can have a season where not much appears to be happening. There are ways, though, to make the mundane days, meaningful.

During this time focus could be changed to demonstrating how to work at something for a little bit, and be satisfied with incompletion. The process is the important part.

When I think of an example of appreciating repetitive and mundane experience, and focusing on the process vs. the outcome, each time I come back to chores. When I look at chores in a way that I will only be satisfied when every dish is clean and put away, all the clothes laundered and put away, and the house straightened and looking company ready, then I am setting myself up for frustration and an irritable mood. I am also modeling the idea that satisfactory work only occurs when the desired outcome is met.

I’ve worked, prayed, and continue to practice accepting time spent on a project as good enough. Beyond accepting “good enough,” the repetitive nature of most tasks lends itself well to engaging in mindfulness activities which soothe the mind, body, and spirit.

The easy task of matching socks and prayer go well together. Singing and worship in the middle of dishes increases energy, both physical and spiritual. Vacuuming and mopping the floor works well with taking deep breaths and adding a blessing or a mantra to focus the mind. My favorite deep breathing activity is also a prayer. When I breathe in, I pray, “Whatever You give me, I accept.” When I breathe out, I pray, “Whatever You take from me, I let go.” I have found increased connection with God, and flexibility in following God’s plan for me by incorporating this deep breathing prayer with my chores.

In Deuteronomy 11:19 we are to “Teach them (the Word of God) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” While it may feel awkward at first, modeling and demonstrating mindful connection to God throughout the day are powerful tools of faith to impart to your children. You may wonder, then, how does this apply to school work?

My husband, a concert level musician, taught me that in order to learn how to do a skill quickly and accurately, I first needed to learn to do the task slowly and methodically. Whether taking my licensing exam or folding laundry, in order to improve my skill, I need to take action slowly; and, once learned and done accurately, I can increase the speed of completion. School work is about acquiring new skills, in-depth study, and communicating the knowledge acquired. The process is similar to what I described with chores. Frequently, there isn’t a satisfactory end. Reading, writing, and math all require practice, a lot of practice, with frequent mistakes and trying again. If the focus of learning is on a satisfactory outcome, we can set up our relationship with our children to be one of frustration and irritability. I present for your consideration: What if the process of learning chores and prayerful mindfulness will ease any learning frustrations, because knowledge of the process of learning will already have been experienced by your child(ren) through learning the process of chores?

These shorter, colder, perhaps even mundane days allow activity in a household to slow down; the focus of learning can be on the basics. Through repetition and mindfulness, a child can grow physically, developmentally, and spiritually during a time when you are unlikely to see any “academic fruit.” These days are important, if we can model the skills we want our children to integrate, and allow children freedom from constantly striving for the moment of success.

“What will you do in the mundane days of faithfulness?” ~Martin Luther

Life Skills — Car Maintenance

Car Maintenance and RepairsLong before our children were old enough to drive, life skills training for car maintenance and repairs began. Probably in part due to being the daughter and granddaughter of mechanics, I consider these essential life skills.

Our family home is also our farm, so a great deal of learning begins with farm equipment. But, even those in a more urban environment can benefit from these teachings.

We start early

In the elementary ages, children can learn to check for oil and gas in the push mower, and later in the riding mower. Spark plugs can be checked and changed, too. At this age, most children show an interest in how things work, offering an introduction to simple mechanics and maintenance.

By the time they are teens, our children graduate to riding mowers and tractors. We don’t consider this an age issue, but more of a readiness issue. Some are ready well before the teen years, while some may not be ready until late teen or beyond. Offering them exposure to watching and helping as you work with the machinery gives the opportunity to learn more quickly.

Begin with the basics

Yes, we are working toward car maintenance. Before we feel they are ready to begin learning to drive the family car, our children learn basic car maintenance. These skills include the following:

  • filling the gas tank
  • checking oil, transmission fluid, windshield wiper fluid
  • checking other fluids such as brake fluid, antifreeze/water
  • cleaning the car, inside and out (this begins very early in life!)
  • changing the oil and filter
  • changing a tire
  • checking tires for wear and deciding when to replace
  • basic tune-up
  • recognizing when the engine sounds normal and when there might be a problem with it
  • changing light bulbs, fuses, etc

This seems like a long list….

While this might seem like more than the average car owner would do, our family believes that it’s better to know more than you need to know. As adults, they might choose to go to an oil change station, rather than changing it themselves. If they do, at least they know what they are paying for.

Unlike those raised off farms, our children have driving experience before they get their permit. They also have basic maintenance experience. And when they are ready to drive, we feel more confident in their ability to manage basic maintenance and even emergency situations on the road.

Ready to drive?

Of course, driving training needs to go beyond the maintenance. But if they know maintenance and basic repairs before beginning to drive on the road, they can more easily concentrate on gaining experience behind the wheel.

Crafts for Kids: Textured Crochet Headband Pattern

Hello! Today’s craft comes from your suggestions in the SDA Homeschool Mom’s Facebook Group! If you’re not a member already, you can join here.

This versatile headband can be made for almost any girl in your family, from preschooler (4-5 yrs old) all the way up to adult. There are a bunch of fun stitches in this pattern, which makes it fun for learning and improving your skill! If you don’t know how to read a pattern already, I give a brief overview in this post. If you need more instruction, head on over to YouTube and search for videos about learning to crochet.

Let’s begin! If you get stuck, I’ve included some pictures of the steps to help you out.

Materials Needed:
5mm (H) hook, or hook needed to obtain gauge
50-75 yards of Lion Brand Fishermen’s Wool in Birch Tweed
Yarn Needle
1″ button

Stitches Used:
ch = chain
sc = single crochet
hdc = half-double crochet
dc = double crochet
sc2tog = single crochet 2 together (decrease)
YO = yarn over

Additional Stitches:
-Small Puff stitch: YO, insert hook into stitch, pull up a loop, YO, insert hook into same stitch, pull up a loop 2 more times. YO and pull through all 7 loops.
-Working in the 3rd loop of hdc. Look at the top of the stitch, and locate the sideways “V”, bend the stitch to look at the back, and you should see another “V”. You’ll be working into the back loop of that “V”, this is called the 3rd loop. When working in rows, this “3rd loop” will be facing you!

8 sc or hdc in 2″

Headband measures 3 1/4″ wide with edging added.
See Pattern repeat section for length suggestions.

Additional Notes:
-The way this headband is written makes it work for all head sizes from preschooler to adult!
-ch 1 does not count as a stitch

Textured Crochet Headband:
Row 1:
ch 6, sc in second ch from hook, and in each ch across, ch 1, turn(5)
Rows 2-8: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 9: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 3 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 10: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 11: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 5 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 12: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 13: 2 sc in first stitch, sc in next 7 stitches, 2 sc in final stitch, ch 1, turn (11)
Row 14: ch 1, turn, sc in each stitch across, ch 3 (counts as first dc of next row), turn (11)

Row 15: small puff stitch in next stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, small puff stitch in next stitch* repeat * to * 4 times, dc in final stitch of row, ch 1 turn (11)

Row 16: sc in each stitch across. Place final sc of row in the top of ch 3, ch 3, turn (11)
Row 17: small puff stitch in next stitch, *ch 1, skip stitch, small puff stitch in next stitch* repeat * to * 4 times, dc in final stitch of row, ch 1 turn (11)
Row 18: sc in each stitch across. Place final sc of row in the top of ch 3, ch 1, turn (11)

Row 19: hdc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (11)
Row 20: working in 3rd loop of hdc, hdc in each stitch across, ch 3, turn (11)

Repeat rows 15 to 20 (referred to as a pattern repeat) until your headband is about 5-6 inches shorter than the head circumference of the person you’re making it for.

Note: My headband was a little bit loose since I don’t like tight things around my head. If you want your headband to have a more snug fit, you may want to do fewer pattern repeats.

In my headband each pattern repeat was 2 1/4″ long. This translates roughly to:
-3 pattern repeats to make a preschooler headband, 17 1/4″ long.
-4 pattern repeats to make a child’s headband, 19 1/2″ long.
-5 pattern repeats to make a teen/adult’s headband, 21 3/4″ long.

Repeat rows 15 to 17 one more time, then continue with the ending.

Row 1: sc2tog, sc in next 7 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 2: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (9)
Row 3: sc2tog, sc in next 5 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1 turn (7)
Row 4: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (7)
Row 5: sc2tog, sc in next 3 stitches, sc2tog, ch 1 turn (5)
Rows 6-13:sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 14: sc, ch 3, skip 3 stitches, sc in final stitch of row, ch 1, turn (5)
Rows 15-17: sc in each stitch across, ch 1, turn (5)
Row 18: sc2tog, sc in next stitch, sc2tog (3)

This picture demonstrates how to single crochet 2 together, starting with the ch 1, and turn:
Pull up a loop in the first stitch, pull up a loop in the next stitch, pull your yarn through all 3 loops on your hook.

This picture shows you what the button hole should look like, and finishes with the sc edging.

Fasten off and weave in ends.

Attach yarn to edge of headband and sc evenly around. Note: to get the best results put 1 sc in each sc, or hdc, and 2 sc in each dc stitch. Make sure you are on the right side of the headband!

Fasten off, and weave in ends.

Sew button to the end of your headband.

Weave in all ends.

And, that’s it! If you enjoyed today’s craft, you can find my other kids craft features below:

Easy Sashay Chunky Cowl Pattern
“Essentials” Toiletry Bag Pattern

More of my original crochet patterns can be found on my site, HERE.

This post contains affiliate links.

Life Skills: Holiday Preparation

Holiday Preparation

Some might question whether holiday preparation falls under life skills training. However, our family considers it a very useful part of life skills.

Life skills learned during holiday preparation might include…

  • basic planning for an event,
  • large meal planning, which usually includes math skills,
  • budgeting, another area of math skills,
  • time scheduling,
  • working well with others,
  • hosting and being a gracious host,
  • appreciation and thankfulness,
  • and much more!

These life skills are quite useful in holiday preparation. However, they also provide great training for other aspects of our life. Indeed, these life skills may be some of the most useful throughout our children’s life. So, why not teach them in a festive, happy atmosphere as we prepare for holiday gatherings.

We celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas as important family gatherings. In our home, holiday preparation begins with planning the day. If a family member needs to work (hospitals never close!) we may shift our planned event to accommodate everyone. Yes, planning to include everyone constitutes life skills, especially in a large, active family.

Next, we work on the menu. This encompasses not only planning a large menu, but ensuring that everyone can take part.  From a very early age, each child helps with some part of the food buffet. Younger children create the relish tray or make mashed potatoes. As they grow, so do their responsibilities.

life skills holiday preparation

Good Planning is more than life skills training

Good planning helps ensure the holiday is enjoyed by all, without too much stress. Planning includes what we will serve and the amounts needed of each. While our children all learn to cook from an early age (see Life Skills- Home Management again!) holiday planning requires additional planning.

As such, we consider the following:

  • Figure out the number of people attending. (This seems to grow each year!)
  • Plan each meal item. We do buffet style with plenty of variety, all vegetarian, many vegan.
  • Assemble the grocery list. This actually becomes multiple lists.
    • List 1: items we need ahead of schedule to begin early cooking.
    • List 2: items we need last minute, to ensure they are fresh.
    • List 3: actually might be part of the first two, and includes non-food items such as serving ware, bakeware, and even a little decor.
  • Create the “who does what” list. This begins to come together before the grocery list and often alongside the meal planning. After the basics, each family member is encouraged to offer their choices of what they hope to help with or contribute.
  • And, the final step includes who has the kitchen for what time slot. Yes, in a large family, this becomes necessary, even with an extra large kitchen.

Teach these life skills from early childhood. It might seem more like a holiday checklist, and it is. But, it is also helping our children grow up, learning holiday preparation in such a way that they avoid feeling overwhelmed. I could do the entire preparation and know other moms that do. However, by teaching these skills as we live together, our children become teens fully capable of planning a complete holiday on their own, should the need arise.

life skills holiday preparation

Family together!

Holiday Preparation Becomes Family Fun

Some of my fondest memories of childhood and beyond include holiday preparation with my mom and family. Over the years, we have built such memories with our own children, too. I still enjoy the chatter in the kitchen and friendly chiding as we each whip up our own contribution. These hours become family memories none will forget.

But, almost as important as the beautiful memories are the life skills. Most of our teens could quite easily plan a small gathering with great ease. In fact, one of my daughters did the majority of the planning and development for her own sweet 16 party. Given a budget, realistic guidelines, and a few suggestions, she had a party for more than 150 guests. That might be considered a final exam for a course called Life Skills-Holiday Preparation!

Planning Beyond the Food

However, we must also consider planning beyond the food itself. Decor, time, and any activities — all must be included in the planning. Not just what, but who will put them together and when everyone arrives.

And, don’t forget the clean-up. In our home, everyone helps with the clean-up, too. However, giving a little forethought to where things will be put and even who will wash the dishes helps keep the event from becoming a major work-fest for one or two people. Plan ahead. Ask for help. Designate.

life skills holiday preparation

Thank Everyone

Although our holiday events are mostly family-centered, it’s important to thank everyone for their contributions and for coming and enjoying. Holiday preparation life skills training includes being a gracious host or hostess during and after the event. While thank-you cards might not be needed, those verbal thanks are well appreciated. Teach your children to include these in their good-byes, too.

life skills holiday preparation