100 Life Skills To Teach Your Child

Your child doesn’t have to be unprepared for life. Equip them for adulthood. Here are 100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child.

100 life skills to teach your child

Many people are surprised when I tell them I went to live on my own in Europe at the age of seventeen. I don’t think there was anything particularly special about me. I just think my parents prepared me well for adulthood. At that age, I was well equipped to book a plane ticket and navigate a foreign airport. I made my way across another continent using bus and train schedules in multiple foreign languages – completely on my own. I’m not bragging – at least not about me. If any credit is due, it goes to my parents. Not only did they homeschool me, but they managed to teach me how to not need them.

My parents have never bought me a car. I’ve never borrowed money from them. I paid for college, my wedding and house without their help. If you’ve done a good job as a parent, your children won’t need a lot from you as adults.

Good parenting is working yourself out of a job

This isn’t a lecture for parents. It’s a reminder. It’s so much easier sometimes to just do things ourselves to get it done faster, but we do our “babies” a disservice. They lose out on life lessons. Today, I’m sharing 100 life skills to teach your children.

Include Them

As I wrote the list, I tried to think of all the things my parents taught me. I am one of three children, but I am the only girl. Our gender did not matter when it came to teaching life skills. My brothers were taught homemaking skills like cooking, ironing clothes, and how to properly clean. As a girl, I was taught how to change a tire, start a campfire, and basic survival skills. We all learned the same life skills.

The simplest way to to teach these skills is summed up in one word: inclusion. My mom loved to repaint rooms every so often. It was the cheapest way for her to redecorate. But one thing I remember is her including us. Instead of sitting us in front of a television to get us out of her way, she handed us a paint brush. She taught us how to open and store the paint and how to stir it. How to mask the trim and paint around corners. She taught us how to properly load the brush and rollers with paint. She’d show us how paint without streaks or splattering. I was able to fix up my first apartment thanks to the skills she showed me. “Everyone has four walls to work with. It’s what you do with them,” she used to say.

As a parent myself, I know tempting it is to brush the kids out of your way so you can get things done. But the best way to teach your children is by simply including them in your everyday activities. Paying for a check at a restaurant? Make them calculate a tip. Washing your car? Give them a sponge and put them to work. At the doctors office? Make your teen fill out their own forms.

Age Appropriateness

The list I provide, is for all age groups. Obviously there are things on the list that should be taught at an older age because of the dangers associated with them – like using a knife or learning to safely make a campfire. However, don’t underestimate introducing things at an early age. Introducing simply starts by talking and teaching your child why we do something a certain way.

Introducing also includes knowing they won’t likely master something until an older age. For example, when my son turned three, I started to include him on cleaning. I let him dry plastic dishes I’ve washed. I make him take his folded clothes upstairs to his room and make him scrub the toilet (I apply the chemicals and he swirls it around). Now four, he has chores every week. I know these things won’t be done perfectly. In fact, they may even create more work for me right now, but this instruction is about creating a habit in your child. It’s also about giving them responsibility, purpose, and sense of accomplishment. Young children especially love to help – so let them!

As a kid, when we went camping, my dad would first give us small unimportant tasks like bringing him the tent poles or gathering wood or kindling. As we grew older, so did our responsibility until finally we were capable of doing it entirely by ourselves.

100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child

  1. How to sew a button
  2. How to hem pants
  3. How to thread a needle
  4. How to use a sewing machine
  5. How to wash clothes
  6. How to bake a chicken
  7. How to cut up a whole chicken
  8. How to mow the grass
  9. How to file taxes
  10. How to balance a checkbook
  11. How to fill out a medical form
  12. How to buy a car
  13. How to bake a turkey
  14. How to stain a fence or deck
  15. How to wash a car
  16. How to change a tire
  17. How to check car fluids
  18. How to change a brake light
  19. How to get a state inspection sticker
  20. How to change a car windshield wiper blades
  21. How to repair a leaky faucet
  22. How to fix a running toilet
  23. How to organize a pantry
  24. How to crochet
  25. How to knit
  26. How to bake a cake from scatch
  27.  How to clean a toilet
  28.  How to descale a shower and shower head
  29. How to vacuum
  30. How to make a candle
  31. How to make soap
  32. How to start a fireplace fire
  33. How to build a campfire
  34. How to set up a tent
  35. How to fish
  36. How to swim
  37. How to change a baby’s diaper
  38. How to feed a baby
  39. How to bake bread
  40. How to use a fire extinguisher
  41. How to mail a letter
  42. How to play an instrument
  43. How to frame and hang a picture
  44. How to use a compass
  45. Basic etiquette
  46. How to use a drill
  47. How to clean a grill
  48. How to bake cookies
  49. How to preform the Heimlich maneuver
  50. How to perform CPR
  51. How to fold clothes
  52. How to iron clothes
  53. How to vacuum a swimming pool
  54. How to trim trees
  55. How to pull weeds
  56. How to mulch a flower bed
  57. How to paint a room
  58. How to save money
  59. How to calculate a sale price
  60. How to raise chickens
  61. How to navigate an airport
  62. Emergency preparedness
  63. How to mop a floor
  64. How to can food
  65. How to unclog a sink or toilet
  66. How to use a stand mixer
  67. How to chop vegetables / food
  68. How to check if food is ripe
  69. Basic first aid (dress a wound, apply pressure)
  70. How to read a map
  71. How to read a nutrition label
  72. How to pump gas
  73. How to write a resume
  74. How to apply for a job
  75. Critical thinking / logic
  76. How to set a budget
  77. How to BBQ food
  78. How to make basic meals
  79. How to check your credit score
  80. How to invest money
  81. How to calculate a tip
  82. How to write a thank you letter
  83. How to vote
  84. Basic politics and civics
  85. How to win and lose graciously
  86. How to apologize and ask for forgiveness
  87. How to set up electronics
  88. How to shampoo carpet
  89. How to use a camera (not a camera phone)
  90. Basic woodworking
  91. How to get to common places in your neighborhood
  92. How to polish furniture
  93. How to get a loan
  94. How to fix your credit
  95. How to filter water (survival skill)
  96. How to build a shelter
  97. How to meal plan
  98. How to shave properly
  99. How to pray
  100. How to carry on family traditions

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, 100 Life Skills to Teach Your Child. Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to pin this post for later and subscribe to get FREE printables every month!

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Debunking Myths About Homeschooling

There is lots of misinformation about homeschooling. So today, I’m going to set the record strait by debunking myths about homeschooling.

Debunking myths about homeschooling

Second Generation Homeschoolers

I had the honor of being a product of both private school and homeschooling. I attended private school in my early elementary years and was homeschooled thereafter for a number of reasons.

These days, I homeschool my two boys. Well, my oldest. T is a tad too young for standard teaching yet, but in a year or so, we’ll start tot school. Whenever I share my love for homeschooling, I receive a range of reactions from fellow parents. It spans from concern, to disgust, to sheer puzzlement. Others love the idea, but you can see the concern on their face as they ask questions like, “won’t they miss having friends?” “How will you know if they are up to par with public school kids?” Lastly, I hear a common exasperation, “I don’t think I’d have the patience for it.”

Today, I’m sharing some common answers to tired, clichéd stereotypes and assumptions surrounding the homeschooling world. As a second generation homeschooler, I’m debunking myths about homeschooling.

Debunking Myths About Homeschooling

I’m Not Qualified or Smart Enough to Teach My Children

Yes, you are. Public school teachers have support and direction and so do homeschooling parents. In fact, in most large cities, there are homeschooling conferences for parents and their “professional development.” There is a huge selection of teach-led curriculum which offers plenty of explanation and instructions to properly teach it. In addition, there are support groups, both online and local, to learn from other parents.

I know this is controversial because we all love and appreciate teachers. However, being a teacher doesn’t mean you’re smart. Statistically, education majors (teachers) have some of the lowest SAT scores by intended major. If you look at the 2016 report from Collegeboard.org, it finds that out of the 38 intended majors, teachers are 26th on the spectrum. The only mean scores beneath them are careers that don’t require degrees like culinary professions, agriculture, construction, and security. Education majors score poorly on the SATs and those scores have been declining since the 1970’s. To put it bluntly, most teachers just aren’t impressive academically. So yes, be assured you’re likely as “smart” as the average teacher. Teachers are just average people who have big hearts for teaching children.

Teachers
Courtesy of Pexels

My Children Won’t Be Socialized

This is by far, the most ignorant, irritating thing someone can say to me. However, I do understand why someone would assume that. But if by “socialized” you mean bullying, drugs, underage sex, drinking, mass shootings, and suicide, then you can keep your public school “socialization.” My in-laws teach in a small town in Canton, Ohio. In one year alone, their small town school district experienced a cluster of six teenage suicides. Children consume candy laced with narcotics. Bullying (along with cyber bullying) is an everyday occurrence.

Many people believe homeschooling coops children up in a house all day. Homeschooled children have as much social interaction as any other kids. These days, there are so many social outlets for kids taught at home. There are co-op classes, play dates, field trips, church ministries, sports, band, science labs, summer camps, orchestra, debate, drama clubs, and other extra-curricular activities. The difference is that you can be selective with whom your child associates. In public school, you have no control of your child’s classmates.

Homeschooled Children Are Sheltered

This leads us to our next myth. When I’ve explained the previous reason, most people will then say I’m sheltering my children from the real world. Believe me, as a homeschooled child, I was anything but sheltered. Being taught by my parents helped me gain real life experience; things you don’t learn from a text book. I began working at thirteen, doing accounting for a small business. Also at thirteen, my poetry was published in a chapbook. By sixteen, I bought my own car (and paid for the insurance and gas myself). At seventeen, I was living in Europe alone training in art. By twenty, I was a curator at a gallery in England. Contrary to popular belief, parents don’t coddle their homeschooled children. Rather, they are quick to adopt self-sufficient behaviors.

Homeschooled children aren’t sheltered. They are rooted. Children are grounded by parents instead of being influenced by strangers and peers. You firmly established your children in your family’s values going out into the real world.

My Child Will Fall Behind Public School Kids

Part of homeschooling is doing away with the boundaries enforced by the standardization of public schooling. Your child will flourish beyond the boundaries of grade levels, which is a product of public school education. That’s because homeschooling is more mastery-focused than grade-focused. You move on when you master something, not when the school year is over.

When I entered college, I found it shocking how many young adults didn’t know basic geography. Shockingly, they couldn’t tell me why we entered World War I or with whom we fought. (Kaiser Wilhelm who?) Most had never read classic literature. In fact, most couldn’t even name the seven parts of speech. It was shocking. For all they are taught, few understand (or remember) the fundamentals.

My own mother-in-law said they no longer assign book reports in her 8th grade class because kids get the book synopsis online. A cashier clerk I met (earning her masters degree) couldn’t compose a letter or use a postage stamp. We have high school graduates who can’t read cursive. Also, in a recent study 32 million American adults are currently illiterate despite the last few generations having access to compulsory taxpayer-funded public school. Nineteen percent of high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Homeschoolers score 15-30% higher on standardized academic achievement tests.

public school

Homeschooling Is Expensive

I’ve also heard claims that homeschooling is for the rich and conversely that homeschooling is for the poor. It’s clear, many people just have no idea what homeschooling costs are. Parents choose how much or little they spend on curriculum. Homeschoolers spend an average of $600 per child annually. It is still much cheaper than charter or private schools. There are lots of options for used curriculum. If you have multiple children, you will most likely be using it more than once. Also, if your child is kindergarten or younger, there is a lot of free curriculum available. Many states even offer public school at home, online.

Homeschooled Children Are Abused

Give me a break. I’ve actually heard this more than once. There might be odd cases where unfit parents hide behind homeschooling to keep their children hidden and abused, but those are extremely rare cases. In most instances, the 2.3 million homeschoolers come from loving homes seeking the best for their children.

Homeschooling

I Can’t Work and Homeschool

Not true! I know a lot of homeschooling parents that work from home virtually and homeschool. In fact, I know a doctor who works part time at a clinic and homeschools her kids when she’s home from work. These days, there are lots of ways to do it. For example, depending on your state, you can even have someone else do it. For instance, in Texas, you can homeschool up to five children (yours or others) before the state requires you to have a day care certification. Some parents work different shifts so they can homeschool in shifts.

Also many parents work a 40-hour week and homeschool for 20 hours a week. Did I mention that schooling goes by a lot faster when you only have a couple of kids to teach instead of classroom of 30? Remember, with homeschooling, you aren’t locked into specific hours, days, or even the time of year. Homeschooling allows for maximum flexibility.

My Child Won’t Do Well In College

Nonsense. These days, colleges are recruiting homeschoolers at the highest rate ever. They are desirable because homeschoolers are typically highly motivated and independent learners. They also typically outperform their publicly-schooled peers. In a recent Huffington Post article, homeschoolers graduate college at a higher rate and earn higher GPAs.

Homeschooling is Only For Religious Families

Not true! These days there are a growing number of secular families joining the homeschooling circle. There are lots of secular parents who are displeased with the educational and social problems of public schooling. Like faith-based homeschooling, there are lots of curriculum and support circles that don’t incorporate religion.

Homeschoolers Just Play All Day

Debunking myths about homeschooling

Part of this myth stems from the fact that homeschooling kids are out and about during the day. Others just simply don’t think homeschooling is serious learning. Both assumptions are wrong. Homeschoolers have the flexibility to leave during the day and continue studies later, but everything is also a learning opportunity. Grocery shopping becomes a real life math application. For example, have your child figure out how much the 30% sale is or have them perform mental math as you fill the cart. Most homeschooling parents take every opportunity to teach life skills and incorporate learning into everyday situations. Conversely, at a young age, play is healthy and necessary for cerebral development. Homeschooling allows parents to balance play and studies as suited for each child.

Homeschooling Is Just For White Families

At one time, this may have been relatively true. However, over the last decade or so, minorities (like myself) have been taking back control of their child’s education. In fact, homeschooling by minorities is surging. Blacks in particular turn to homeschooling to protect their kids from the low expectations towards their race, especially for young black boys. For minorities, homeschooling is often sought to level the playing field and thereby providing every advantage to their children.

In Conclusion

If you are considering homeschooling, I hope I have helped dispel some misinformation. Debunking myths about homeschooling is very important because I think a lot of interested parents, don’t pursue it because of misconceptions. Understand there are pros and cons to both systems. This post isn’t meant to be snippy or condescending. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice for each family.

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How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay

If your toddler is struggling to speak, here are some of speech therapy takeaways to help us improve your toddler’s speech delay.

How to improve your toddlers speech delay
All photos courtesy of Unsplash

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The terrible twos are hard enough, but they are harder for the mom whose child isn’t talking. There are new levels of tantrums when your toddler is straining for you to understand him or her. I know. I’ve been there. We went through speech therapy that cost about $500 every two weeks. Today, I’m sharing the things that helped us and will hopefully help you improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Our Story

My toddler was two when I knew something was wrong. We had meltdowns multiple times a day when I struggled to understand him. He couldn’t articulate when he was sick, hurt, or angry. Therefore, these feelings manifested violent eruptions of emotion. I blamed myself. Was I doing something wrong?

But here is the thing, I’m a very hands-on mom. We homeschool. I sit and play with my little one. I read to him, talk to him and engage him. Sadly, I felt judgment from family and mom friends. My son knew his colors by 18 months and shapes by 24 months. He knew his complete alphabet by 30 months. His only delay was speech.

I took him to numerous doctors, starting with our pediatrician. The first specialist we saw was a Pediatric ENT since so many speech delays can be attributed to a hearing problem. Once that was ruled out, we went to a neurologist and neurosurgeon who assured us there was nothing wrong. Both told me they thought he’d benefit from being away from me (more on that later). We started speech therapy but it was ridiculously expensive because at two, insurance doesn’t consider it a true delay yet. While speech therapy didn’t work miracles, it definitely helped and here are the takeaways that helped us. Please know this should not be a replacement for medical advice. I’m not a medical professional. If you’re concerned about your child not speaking, consult a licensed medical professional for a diagnosis. There are physical and mental problems that can create a speech delay.

Focus on Beginning Sounds

When children start to babble, you may notice beginning sounds babababa and dadadada. As it turns out, children learn certain letter sounds before others. The b, m, a, h, p, n, w, t, and d are first sounds and first sounds are easy! Would you believe some sounds aren’t mastered until the age of 8? The J, Z, X, Zh, are some of the last letter sounds learned. Likewise, when children start forming actual words they also start with the same beginning sounds. Therefore, focus on words that start with the beginning sounds.

Alphabet

Consonant – Vowel Sounds

In addition to beginning sounds, children also do better when words are consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For example, ”mama” and ”dada” are both consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. For instance, if your child is struggling to say train, model the word choo-choo instead. Over time, your child will master train.

Hold Things Close to Your Mouth

The speech therapist pointed out my son never really watched my mouth. He looked at my face, but he wasn’t studying my mouth to see how I was making sounds. So she had me hold objects directly to my mouth and repeat the word. The key is to get your child to focus on your lips all day.

Baby Sign Language

Studies show that babies who utilize baby sign language have an easier time transitioning to words. Baby sign language is not ASL, although there are many similarities. Many of the hand movements are simple so that a baby can do it easily. Baby sign language helps your child in different ways. It first teaches them they must communicate to get what they want. Grunts, pointing or whining will not make themselves understood – they can speak or sign. Intergrate signing into your everyday routine. Continue to say the word as you sign. Help your child by doing hand-over-hand teaching. In other words, grab your child’s hand and teach them how to make the sign. Signing helped us in the interim. It reduced tantrums because if he couldn’t say the word, he could sign it. Here are books I recommend for learning baby sign language.

Short & Sweet

Many people will tell you not to baby talk to your child. However, many children need things simplified into keywords only. Some children have a difficult time distinguishing where words begin and end in a sentence. To them, the sentence is just a rapid cacophony of sounds. For example, instead of saying, “Okay let’s go to the car. We need to go to the store and get stuff for dinner before daddy gets home” simply say “Bye Bye. Car. Store.” Let them clearly hear the key words. Over time, you’ll add additional words.

Say One, Add One

Which brings us to our next point. As your child says words, you will add an additional word. By modeling this, you demonstrate how to combine words to form sentences. For example, when your child points to the fridge for a snack, you might just model “open” at first because that is the most important word. Once your child masters “open”, you say “open fridge.” Once they can say “open fridge,” you might model, “open fridge please” or “open fridge snack.” The point is, once your child masters the word, you’ll add an additional word.

Don’t Correct

You read that correctly. I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I had the same thoughts. I corrected my son all the time. He would say bapple instead of apple. So I would correct him and say, “no, it’s apple.” Many kids who are non-verbal also have confidence issues. They are less likely to talk if everything they DO say is wrong. The speech therapist said to model it correctly, but in a positive way. For example, “Okay, I’ll get you an apple.”

Read

This might seem like a no-brainer. But many non-verbal children aren’t that interested in books. In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour. My husband and I are both avid readers. I read to my son every day as an infant. But once he learned to walk (12 months), he was no longer interested in sitting – especially for a book. I was so discouraged, but I kept reading to him. Well, it was more like “at him” and “over him.” Even if he was playing with something else, I read.

I got him reinterested in books, by finding “lift the flap” books, sometimes called “peek-a-boo” books. Books that kept his little hands busy as we read. He was bored otherwise. The other thing I did was just point to the pictures and say the word. In other words, instead of reading it verbatim, I’d point to the pictures and say “Dog. Dig. Grass.” Focus on the most important words.

Child reading

In fact, when a child is watching TV, they hear 300 words less per hour.

Play Time Is Learning Time

Playtime is a great time to teach your child because they don’t realize it’s a speech lesson! For instance, if you’re playing cars, drive the car along the track and say, “go, go, go. Stop!” If you’re playing with a baby doll, you can model words like eat, night-night, baby, etc. The important thing is to say the word over and over. Remember, stop and hold the doll or car up to your mouth occasionally when you say it. Stacking blocks? Use the words “up and down.” Take every opportunity to focus on vocabulary building. Submersion will ultimately help improve your toddler’s speech delay.

Even snacks can serve as teaching time. Instead of giving your child all their snack, give him or her a little bit and withhold the rest. This is a great time to teach the word and sign for “more.”

Outside Speech Help

As mentioned previously, there are lots of causes for speech delays, including hearing problems and mental delays. Children learning multiple languages (like English and Spanish) also can be delayed. You should definitely consult a doctor if you are worried about your child not talking. Speech therapists can work directly with your child, but it’s up to you to do the “homework” they give you. Ultimately, it’s up to you, the parent, to do this kind of teaching all day long. The public school education system also has resources for speech delays.

Today, my son is doing really well. He has made incredible improvements over the last year. Doing these things have helped exponentially! The last thing I want you to know is that it isn’t your fault. Sometimes there are no reasons. Children develop later than others. You’re doing a great job mama. I sincerely hope this helps you and your little one. Even if it isn’t on your time table, your little one will learn how to talk!


The post, How to Improve Your Toddler’s Speech Delay first appeared on My Beautiful Mess

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