Equipping our children with the ability to perform important life skills is a crucial aspect of adulting. We all want our kids to be ahead of the game and succeed at this thing we call life, but what should we be teaching them and how? With this ultimate list of life skills to teach kids, we’ll explore all the little things we sometimes don’t think to teach and find fun ways to implore our kiddos to learn them. Let’s learn some life skills!
Teaching and Learning With Adventures From Scratch
Looking for a way to create memorable family moments and teach life skills at the same time? We’ve got you covered. Adventures From Scratch: Family Edition has over 50 scratch-off challenges that have been carefully crafted to promote communication, teamwork, and laughter among family members of all ages. Stay at home, or take your adventure on the road. You can even scrapbook together to save memories! Gather your loved ones, and let the games begin!
The Most Important Life Skills to Teach Kids
Preparing your child for each stage of life, from preschool to independence, is a challenge. While many of the skills they need can be developed at a young age, others will take time to hash out over the years. By fostering these skills early on and allowing your child to put them into practice, you can help them gain self-esteem and independence as they approach adulthood.
Remember that teaching kids life skills is an ongoing process that requires patience, consistency, and support. It won’t happen in a day, so don’t put too much stress on yourself here. They will eventually learn to tie their shoes. On this helpful list of life skills, we’ve included concepts for both young children and older kids.
Decision-making is an important life skill that kids need to learn at an early age. It’s also one that many of us adults still need to work on. Mature decision-making involves assessing the range of options and choosing the best course of action. Practicing by starting with small decisions in a safe and supportive environment is the best way to learn this valuable skill and develop critical thinking skills.
- Play board games like The Game of Life together or card games like Phase Ten. Consider taking time-outs during play to talk about concepts, or pair up with your child as a team until they get the hang of it.
- Create problem-solving challenges for your child, like finding a solution to puzzles or riddles. Try our “150+ Best Riddles (with Answers)” for ideas. Riddles are a fun way to help your child learn to think creatively.
- Role-playing scenarios: Pretend to be a fashion designer! Lay out your best creations, or have your child tell you what kind of look they’re going for. You could also pretend to be a car salesman and let your child think about the aspects that go into purchasing a vehicle. The list goes on.
2. Health and Hygiene
Health and hygiene skills seem like a no-brainer, but as a former elementary school teacher, I can personally attest that they are often overlooked. Good hygiene not only helps prevent the spread of germs but also produces self-worth and confidence in children. Tooth brushing, hand washing, and healthy eating habits are not always a high priority for kids. These can be boring and redundant activities, so you will need to find ways to keep their attention.
- Model healthy habits for your child, like washing your hands and brushing your teeth regularly, and invite them to help.
- Create fun activities that teach hygiene, like washing hands with colorful soap animals, creating a tooth-brushing chart, or using one of the many tooth-brushing songs on YouTube. For older kids, you may need to use a timer to make sure they’re performing each task for the appropriate amount of time.
3. Time Management
Time management is a valuable skill that is hard to master. It involves setting goals, prioritizing tasks, and not losing your sanity trying to fit it all in. The following activities can help in promoting good time management.
- Play games, like time-based puzzle games or board games like Yahtzee that require strategy under pressure.
- Help your child set realistic goals and work towards achieving them, like cleaning their room by a certain time, creating their own daily schedule with time slots for you to look over, or making a monthly calendar of events.
- Establish daily routines with your child, like setting aside time for school work, playtime, and chores. For many, having a written schedule to refer to during the day helps keep them on track.
Learning to cook food for yourself paves the way toward self-sufficiency and healthy eating. While most of us only cook to eat, the concept of cooking actually teaches quite a few important skills, such as meal planning, budgeting, sanitary food preparation, and time management.
- Involve your child in meal planning and grocery shopping. Consulting them will make them feel big, and it helps them understand the importance of healthy eating, budgeting, and making informed food choices.
- Create cooking challenges for your child, like making a healthy snack or preparing a simple meal using only a few ingredients. This will help them develop their creativity and problem-solving skills in the kitchen.
- For a fun parent-child date, sign up for an online cooking class, and make meals together!
5. Money Management
Making informed financial decisions is an essential life skill. Proper money management involves things like budgeting, saving for the future, and managing debt. Money management is not the easiest concept for a lot of people in our very consumer-driven society. Here are a few options to help promote good money habits.
- Give your child an allowance, and help them create a budget for their savings and expenses. This will help them understand the value of money and learn how to manage their finances responsibly.
- If your child wants a video console, an expensive toy, or even their first car, challenge them to save up a portion of the money on their own. This will help them learn to prioritize their spending and avoid flash spending. It’ll also prepare them for the real world.
- Teach your child about important financial concepts like monitoring a bank account, properly using a credit card, watching interest rates, and building credit scores. They won’t learn it in school. This one is on you! If this is an area where you need some advice, too, sit down and watch some YouTube financial advisors, and then discuss the concepts afterward.
Laundry is a basic life skill that kids can learn early. Even tiny children can start by sorting clean clothes from dirty clothes. Preschoolers can help load a washing machine, and older kids can do the folding and put it away.
- Turn laundry into a fun game by creating a laundry relay. Have your child race to sort and fold clothes in a certain amount of time. Might as well get their hearts pumping!
- Create laundry challenges for your tween, like looking up the remedy for a stubborn stain. This will help them develop their problem-solving skills and build their confidence in the laundry room. For little ones, send them on a scavenger hunt of the house looking for dirty laundry to put in the washer.
Again, cleaning may not seem like something you need to teach, but the concepts involved don’t come naturally. Keeping a clean house involves organization, good time management, and willpower.
- Create cleaning games for your child, like “cleaning treasure hunt,” where they search for hidden objects to clean, or “cleaning dance party,” where they wrap their feet in microfiber towels and dance their way to cleaner floors.
- Create cleaning challenges for your child, like cleaning a specific area of the house or organizing a messy room before the time runs out.
For more ways to make chores fun, check out “11 Ways to Make Chores Fun.”
8. Comparison Shopping
To make informed purchasing decisions, it’s crucial for children to learn the skill of comparison shopping. It involves comparing prices, quality, and features of different products to find the best value for money.
- Play a game where you compare the prices of different products at two stores. This will help them understand that branding produces different price ranges for essentially the same product.
- Create shopping challenges for your child, like finding the best deal on a specific item on Amazon or in your local store.
9. Ordering at a Restaurant
Ordering at a restaurant can help kids learn to communicate effectively, overcome social anxieties, and make informed food choices. Encourage them to read the menu, ask questions about unknown food items, place an order, and interact with the waitstaff.
- Role-play ordering at a restaurant with your child, taking turns being the customer and the waiter. This will help them develop their communication skills in a fun way.
- Create a menu at home, and have your child practice ordering from it. This will help them learn how to read a menu before being under pressure at a restaurant.
10. Getting Dressed and Ready
Learning to get dressed and ready is a significant life skill for children as it helps them manage their time efficiently, choose weather-appropriate clothing, and express themselves with personal style.
- Play dress-up games with your child, where they practice putting on different outfits and accessories. This will help them develop their unique style and learn how to choose appropriate clothing for different occasions.
- Create a morning routine chart with your child, with different tasks assigned at different times. Give them a way to check off the task when they’ve completed it. Stickers are good!
11. House Maintenance
Learning to take care of a house themselves can save your kids lots of money in the future. Most house maintenance is easy to do but can be daunting if you were never taught the basics. The more comfortable you get fixing things, the more confident you will be when a new problem arises. Under adult supervision, even young children can be taught to paint, weed the flower bed, plunge a toilet, or change a light fixture.
- Pick Your Tool: Explain to your child that you have a leaky faucet, a stopped-up toilet, or a loose nail in the deck, and have them choose the appropriate tool to fix the problem. Then demonstrate proper use of the tool, and allow them to attempt to fix it.
12. Basic First Aid
Basic first aid involves things like cleaning wounds, applying bandages, and recognizing when to seek medical attention.
- Create a first aid kit for your child to practice with. Go to the store together to choose the items.
- Role-play different emergency situations with your child, taking turns being the caregiver and the patient. This will help them learn how to respond to emergency situations and take care of minor injuries.
- Enroll your older children in a basic first aid course, where they will learn basics from the pros.
13. Car Maintenance
Let’s face it; cars are a lot of maintenance. Teaching your young adults to check the oil and fluid levels, change tires, and do some basic repairs will help keep their cars running a bit longer and hopefully prevent the 2 a.m. “Dad, I’m stranded” calls.
- Create car maintenance challenges for your child, like racing you to change a tire or a set of windshield wipers.
- Paint the Car Game: Let your kids go crazy with suds and soft cloths to paint whatever they wish on the car before learning to scrub the car clean by hand.
- Encourage older kids to job-shadow with an auto mechanic or a parts house like AutoZone to learn the basics.
14. Caring for Pets and Plants
Caring for pets and plants helps children develop empathy and responsibility. Involving kids in things like feeding, grooming, and watering can nurture caregiving skills that will come in handy once they’re running the show.
- Create a pet and plant care schedule for your child, with individual tasks assigned to different days of the week.
- Take your child to a pet or plant care facility, like a pet store or a greenhouse, where they can learn about different animals and plants and how to care for them. Animal shelters are often looking for volunteers to feed, walk, and bathe the animals.
15. Contact Information Memorization
We all have smartphones that have made this skill almost useless, but phones die or don’t have service sometimes. Kids get separated from their parents, and you have to know your address to enter it into Google Maps. By the time they go to school, children should know their address and phone number.
- Play memory games with your child, where they memorize phone numbers or addresses and then repeat them back with some prize attached to them. The traditional card match game is easy and effective. Make cards with mom’s picture, and have the child match it to the card with mom’s phone number.
- Emergency contact practice: Practice emergency contact scenarios with your child, where they learn to dial 911, look for emergency exits on a plane or in a store, or identify personnel that can help in the event of an emergency.
16. Coping with Failure
Learning to handle disappointment and setbacks is not the most fun thing, but it’s definitely needed for healthy child development. Whether it’s losing a game or a failed business investment, dealing with failure in a healthy way can be the difference between a valued learning experience and a depressive episode.
- Teach your child to appreciate failure as a necessary step toward success. Talk to them about famous people who have failed before succeeding, and encourage them to see failure as a learning opportunity. Also, never let them win in a game against you (kidding… sort of).
- Help your child develop self-awareness by asking them reflective questions after a failure, like “What did you learn from this experience?” or “What could you do differently next time?”
17. Finding a Job
Finding a job is nerve-wracking, time-consuming, and sometimes ego-deflating. Learning to write a resume, apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews in advance can save your child from some of the frustration later in life.
- Hop on Canva, and have your older child use the templates to develop a resume for a fictitious job or a college application.
- Role-play different job interview scenarios with your child, taking turns being the interviewer and the interviewee. This will help them learn how to answer common interview questions and how to present themselves confidently.
18. Good Manners
Good manners are seriously lacking in modern society. Using polite language, respecting personal space, and showing empathy are qualities we need to invest in the next generation.
- Have a tea party, and work on proper table etiquette!
- Role-play introducing yourself to a respected person.
- Watch a YouTube video on how to properly set a table, and then try to make yours match.
- Encourage children to use polite language like “please” and “thank you” consistently within the home, building the habit for when they’re outside the home.
- Help your child develop empathy by asking them to imagine how other people feel in difficult situations. Ask them questions like, “How do you think your friend felt when you didn’t share your toy with them?” or “How would you feel if someone said that to you?”
19. How to Swim
At some point in your child’s life, they will be around water, and you don’t want to be freaking out every second of summer. The earlier you bite the bullet and teach them to swim, the better.
- Teach your child about water safety, including things like staying within designated swimming areas, always swimming with a buddy, and knowing how to recognize and respond to drowning emergencies.
- Enroll your child in swim lessons with a qualified instructor. This will help them learn proper stroke techniques and develop endurance.
- Take your child to a pool or a beach, and practice swimming together as a family.
It’s a wild world out there, and learning self-defense can help children feel empowered and safe in their environment. Your child learning about situational awareness, boundary-setting, and physical defense can ease your worry a little, too.
- Help your child develop awareness skills by teaching them to be alert to their surroundings and to trust their instincts if they feel unsafe. When you enter a store, quiz them on where the exits are, or challenge them to find a fire extinguisher or police officer.
- Boundary-setting exercises: Teach your child how to set boundaries and say no confidently, whether it’s to a stranger, a peer, or an authority figure.
- Enroll older children in self-defense classes or martial arts to improve their physical awareness and strength.
21. Riding a Bike
Riding a bike promotes physical fitness, independence, and adventure. Things like balance, coordination, and traffic safety are life lessons that are inherently learned while riding.
- Teach your child about bike safety, including things like wearing a helmet, using hand signals, and obeying traffic laws.
- Practice bike riding with your child in a safe, open area, like a park or a bike trail. Start with training wheels or a balance bike. Gradually remove the training wheels as your child becomes more confident. Once they’ve got it down, challenge them to a bike race, or introduce them to a bike ramp.
22. Using Maps
Using maps can help children navigate the world around them and develop a sense of direction. Yes, we have Google Maps, but there are a lot of places it doesn’t work. Learning to read a map legend, use a compass, and understand landmarks helps develop situational awareness skills that will serve them in countless ways.
- Geocaching: This is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use GPS coordinates or a mobile device to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches,” at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
- Treasure hunt: Organize a treasure hunt for your child using a map and clues. This will help them develop their map-reading skills while having fun.
23. Basic Sewing
We have all had a button fall off of our favorite pants. When you have some basic sewing skills, you can fix it and keep your favorite around for a bit longer. You don’t need to be a seamstress to teach your kids how to thread a needle and tie a knot.
- Threading and knotting practice: Teach your child how to thread a needle and tie a knot using embroidery floss or thread. Hobby stores also have tons of cute felt sewing kits with plastic needles and larger holes to help little ones learn.
- Hand-sewing practice: Have your child practice hand-sewing by sewing buttons onto fabric or repairing small holes in clothing. They can create a button masterpiece to show off.
- Machine-sewing practice: Teach your child how to use a sewing machine by guiding them through simple projects like making a pillowcase or a tote bag.
- Fashion Show: Challenge their creativity by having them design and sew their own piece of clothing! They can use stitches, glue, household items, or real fabric. Get creative with it!
24. Digital Literacy
In our technical world, digital literacy is of vital importance. Kids are wizzes at the technology part, but they rarely understand the implications of being careless with information. Teaching them to navigate safely through their online interactions and protect their privacy might just save their lives.
- Pop Quiz: Start by formulating a few questions: “True or False—It’s ok to watch YouTube videos on mommy’s profile,” or “True or False—It’s fine to talk to adults that aren’t family on Messenger.”
- Teach your child about digital citizenship, including things like respecting intellectual property, being mindful of online behavior and language, and contributing positively to online communities. Scroll through social media, and snag a few nasty comments and a few empowering ones. Talk about how you would feel if someone said those things to you, and encourage your child to be an uplifting friend, not a keyboard warrior.
If your child spends too much time on electronics, check out “Tips for How to Get Kids Off Electronics” to help them curb the habit.
Tackling the Tough Tasks
Teaching life skills to kids is an important responsibility that parents and caregivers share. By equipping children with practical skills, we help them develop independence, responsibility, and resilience and prepare them for a successful future. To be honest, teaching can take a lot of energy and patience. It’s often easier just to do the task yourself, but that doesn’t benefit anyone in the situation. It’s a short-sighted solution. The key to teaching life skills to children is making it fun, engaging, and age-appropriate. By using a variety of teaching methods, like role-playing, games, and real-life experiences, we can help kids learn important life skills in a way that is enjoyable and meaningful to them and to us.