Class is officially in session.

By Betsy Cribb
March 26, 2020
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When mom and dad are playing teacher, the curriculum looks a little different! Here are the life skills every child should learn before he or she leaves the house.

Skills to Teach Younger Children

No pressure to create prodigies here! Focus on the basics with your littlest learners, from essential etiquette lessons to household skills that encourage a helpful spirit.

Tell Time

Even in a world that’s increasingly digital, it’s important for kids to be able to read analog clocks and watches. Learning to tell time is also a practical way to reinforce their understanding of numbers, like counting in increments of five.

Write in Cursive

Once they’ve mastered print, help them learn to write in cursive, even if they only master signing their own names. Then, they can put their new script skills to the test in letters to their grandparents.

Make the Bed

A five-year-old likely can’t wrestle with a fitted sheet on his own, but he can still learn how to make a tidy bed. It’s also a helpful way to establish a morning routine. Teach older kids how to put sheets, including those pesky fitted ones, on the bed; bonus points if they master hospital corners!

Set the Table

Napkin on the left, cup on the right. Little ones can hone elementary hosting skills by prepping the table for family dinner: One more skill that helps them help you.

Basic Etiquette

From introducing themselves to behaving at the table, teaching your children these five etiquette lessons is a worthy investment of your time, as their manners will only matter more as they grow older.

Answer the Phone

The landline may be on its way out, but proper phone manners, as with other foundational etiquette lessons, will forever be in style.

Count Money

Why is the tiny dime worth more than the bigger nickel? Understanding currency can be tricky for the younger set, so slow down and take the time to walk them through what they have in their piggy banks. It’s a sneaky way to teach math too.

Pull Weeds + Plant Seeds

Encourage your children’s love of playing in the dirt by recruiting them as assistant gardeners. Pulling weeds might bring instant gratification, but planting flowers or vegetables will teach them patience.

Jump Rope

This is a skill they can bring back to the playground or enjoy with their siblings at home. It’s also a fun way to encourage exercise.

Skills to Teach Tweens + Teens

Remember all those times in your twenties when you wondered aloud, “Why did I never learn how to do this?” Save your tweens and teens from the same adulthood affliction and school them in the know-how they’ll need to tackle life after they’ve left the nest.

Make a Meal

They don’t have to be Southern Living Test Kitchen pros, but it’s important for young adults to have a few recipes they can pull out of their back pockets, whether it’s chicken casserole or pasta salad. Give them opportunities to learn basic skills, like chopping vegetables or hard-boiling eggs, by regularly asking for their assistance in the kitchen.

Create a Budget

Encourage smart financial habits by teaching them spend responsibly and save wisely from the moment they start making money, whether they’re scooping ice cream at the local parlor or babysitting for the neighbors’ kids.

Sew a Button

Save them from future trips to the neighborhood seamstress with a speedy tutorial and a pocket-sized sewing kit.

Wrapping Gifts

We’re firm believers that it’s “the thought that counts,” but pretty presentation never hurts, either. A quick lesson in all the hacks, from tying voluminous bows to folding neat corners, can bring some confidence to their gift-giving game.

Change a Tire

Yes, there’s always AAA, but this is one of those things every driver should know how to do, just in case. Flat tires rarely happen at ideal times or convenient places.

Do Laundry

There’s more to it, of course, than separating lights and whites from colors. The nuances you don’t bat an eye at—from “hand wash only” to “tumble dry low”—may cause confusion for those who have yet to do their own laundry.

Write a Check

While it’s knowledge you take for granted, penning the right information in the right place on a check can be a little daunting to the rookie. Next time you’re prepping the church offering or paying the credit card bill, give your teen a demonstration.

Iron a Shirt

A clean, pressed shirt is basically a form of good manners. He might roll his eyes at your coaching him how to use starch now, but he’ll thank you one day.

When will we ever learn that Mama truly does know best?