Teaching my kids life skills

My kids are 8 and 11 and while they do some chores around the house, I know there are many things they don’t know how to do that are just part of living. When in college, there were many students who had never had to cook or do laundry before. And don’t even get me started on the amount of people who have little knowledge of how to handle money.

So to better prepare my kids for life (or just to have them help out around the house more), I decided this summer we would work on some “life lessons.”

There are tons of websites out there that list what type of activities kids should be able to do at every age. I started there and have been adding items to my list as I think of them.


As I said, my concern is that they will not know how to handle money. We currently give them a small allowance which has let them learn about saving up for bigger purchases and only buying what they can afford. But they see us all the time using debt or credit cards. I just didn’t think they had a good enough understanding of how that pays for the items we need.

budget discussion

Budget worksheet for the kids…we used monthly incomes of $1200, $1800, $3000 and $4000.

So far, we have talked about bank accounts and debit cards versus credit cards. We have talked about the difference between a want and a need. And we even worked with budgeting our money using Monopoly money (see photo for our worksheet). The top of the page had them first putting money aside for savings. This is a point I plan to stress to them a lot – you don’t spend everything you make. You need emergency money. And of course that you buy the things you NEED before the fun stuff.

Household Chores

My kids have washed dishes, swept, vacuumed and cleaned windows before but there was still a whole bunch of additional cleaning chores that we went over. We did the sorting, washing, drying and folding of the laundry. They changed the sheets on their bed, learned how to start the dishwasher, set the table and the basics of sewing – threading a needle, putting on a button, fixing a small tear.


One of my favorite sections (and the kids’ favorite) has been cooking. I have shown them how to use the can opener and microwave. We have followed a recipe as well as bought groceries (which included price comparisons) and learned about expiration dates and reading labels.

We have made brownies and cookies from scratch as well as ice cream, and each child has made dinner by themselves.


And last but not least there have been discussion on things that didn’t seem to fit into any of the above categories. We have practiced making 911 calls, discussed making calls to businesses and taking messages for incoming house calls as well as giving a firm handshake when you meet someone. I have drilled in our phone numbers (house and mobiles) as well as our address (including city and state). Lexie still has trouble with this but Jase has known his since he was 5.

Just last week we also talked about general first aid information even though both kids have been doctoring their own cuts with bandaids for a few years.

It has been a productive six weeks, and I will continue looking for more things to introduce them to during the rest of the summer. Of course, I don’t expect to stop when school starts. I think I will always be on the lookout for more things to share with them. It just is amazing how often we do stuff for our kids rather than spending the time to explain it to them or better yet having them help us. And then we wonder why they don’t do anything for themselves!


7 thoughts on “Teaching my kids life skills

  1. Skye Hegyes says:

    This is awesome! I love it. I do have a quick question though: my children are required to learn their address and phone number before they can start Kindergarten. I have a five-year-old and a four-year-old. Did your children have to know this?

  2. Both my kids attended preschool where they did learn their address and phone number. Lexie promptly forgot it. (She now knows the address but gets jumbled on the phone numbers.) But it was not required for either of them to know this before kindergarten. I did print out a picture of a house with the address next to it and a phone with our house line next to it. I hung this on the refrigerator and went over it whenever we were in the kitchen.

  3. […] summer I worked on teaching my kids what I called Life Skills. We worked on doing the laundry, discussed money, banks and saving for the future, and we cooked. I […]

  4. […] kids and I have talked about budgets and wants vs needs as part of our summer life skills/lessons. We have talked about making sure you take care of purchasing the things you need such as a place […]

  5. […] summers ago, we went over some “life skills” which included laundry, bank/credit cards, renting vs owning, cooking, and other things to help […]

  6. […] summers ago, we went over some “life skills” which included laundry, bank/credit cards, renting vs owning, cooking, and other things to help […]

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