Monday, October 6, 2014

Practical Life Skills for Kids

Blogger notSupermum (love that name) currently has a great list of stuff our kids should really know. The stuff we just sort of assume they know but actually, if we're being honest, we didn't sit them down and teach them, and they don't get the knowledge by osmosis. The example she gives is having to talk her daughter through a train time table, and how to get the right train, and there are a whole host of others in the post mentioning cooking, shopping first-aid etc.

How did we learn them? I can't really remember learning to cook and, unlike my 11 year old Master Chef in the making, I don't remember making meals till I was almost ready to leave home. I knew how to wash and iron for some reason, the Hoover was also a known factor. (Do my kids even know where I keep mine I wonder?)

Apart from the great list at notSupermum's blog, I would probably add -

- learn what can go in the microwave. I probably get this question every week referring to paper, polystyrene, various forms of plastic. What would have been helpful is "Mom, can you put a plate with a fork on it in the microwave?" (Fortunately I caught this one just before the "start" button was pressed.)

- learn how to remove stains. Actually that should be, 'have the presence of mind to attempt to remove the stain you've just caused". The stain-removal-ignorati usually attack most stains by rubbing at them. And we all know that all that does is rub them in a little more. In most instances, all a kid needs to know is to get a large dish towel (not a nice hand towel please), put it on the stain (if it's on the carpet) and stand on it till the liquid is transferred from the carpet onto the towel.

- learn what can go into the freezer and for how long. Ditto food that is stored in the fridge. Just because it's been in there a week doesn't necessarily mean it's dangerous but yes, that green stuff growing on the top is not a good sign.

- learn how to clean pots etc. Not everything goes in the dishwasher (another tutorial), and some baked on stains need special attention that doesn't always include scrubbing them with a Brillo pad.

How about you? Anything else to add?


  1. I think we learned these things by trial and error. Much like Man-Child learned about why he should have put the chili his father sent him into smaller, separate bowls before freezing. After eating chili morning, noon and night for about a week, I think this is a lesson he learned well.

  2. How to balance a check (cheque) book/bank account.
    How to file an income tax return.
    How to fill out a job

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. I'm sure there are many, many more.

  3. How to roll coins, otherwise they throw their money away at a coin sorting machine. Really, my college age daughter ran into this recently. A silly girl didn't know that 50 pennies went in a roll. They had to pour out and recount dozens of rolls of pennies because of it.

  4. womaninthemid - I think I need to learn that too!

  5. I think basic cooking is important. Otherwise, they're the generation that will buy ready meals, and pay through the nose for all the time-saving things on offer at supermarkets, eg mashed potato for the microwave, vegetables ready chopped up into cubes sold as "casserole mix", etc etc. It's not just the expense. It's the feeling that I want them to think about food as important and nutritious, rather than as something in a plastic package.

  6. I had a look at the post you mentioned and felt so guilty that I've let my boy go into the big bad world so badly prepared. I had so many plans to cover all these things and time just slipped by. Mind you, he's always been pretty good on public transport so I have that to be grateful for.
    Now at Uni and after a short crash course before he left, he is managing quite well. Maybe it only went in his head on a 'need to know' basis?

  7. I like your list and think that if our children learn these things that they will be fairly equipped for life.
    What about picking up dirty clothes from the bedroom floor and taking out dirty dishes to the sink?
    Maggie x

    Nuts in May

  8. Thanks for the link to my post Toni, really appreciate it. Love your list! x

  9. How to do laundry. It's amazing how many people get to Uni not knowing how to do laundry.

    All about banking would be good. How to read your pay stub.
    How to budget.
    How to wash dishes without a dishwasher (though I suppose your pots thing might cover that?)
    Rudimentary sewing (button/hem/etc.)

    Basic cooking is good too. No one wants to live on KD their entire school career. Or maybe they do?

  10. Oh, I feel good! I think my son knows most of the things mentioned so far. I remember catching the train with him the first time he went, and showing him how to change trains and read the timetables and the screens.

    We're a bit woolly on household repairs, but that goes for all the family tbh. And sewing - when he made a bag at school, he sewed round all the sides and didn't leave an opening at the top! I can only do the basics too though.

    But he does his own washing, some ironing, some cooking and has an allowance and a budget. More practice needed, but then there's another 2 years til he leaves home, so time to work on those things.

    What else? Car maintenance - checking tyres, oil etc. Mowing the lawn, decorating. How to keep the bathroom and kitchen clean (and ideally the rest of the house too).

    I think it helps a) if you have a lazy mum like me who can't be arsed to do everything for you so you'd better bloody learn to do it yourself, and b) have a totally impractical dad so that you basically become the second adult in the house.

    I know I can rely on my son to put the dishwasher on, lock up and turn the lights off if I go to bed first, whereas it's very hit or miss with the husband!

    What on earth is coin rolling, by the way?


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