Learning basic life skills prepares kids for a brighter future. Read the top 11 things every kid should know before high school.

At some point, the concept of nurturing our children got lost, or at least the aspect pertaining to encouraging growth and development. Nurturing, for a lot of parents, has now become confused with smothering and/ or helicoptering, and as a result, we’re setting our kids up for failure. 

And if we don’t let our children stumble and fall, they won’t have any idea how to get up by themselves. This is why it’s important to talk about the basic life skills every kid should know by high school.

Basic Life Skills to Teach Your Kids

1. Cooking

It seems self-explanatory, but you wouldn’t believe how many friends I had in college who had no idea how to cook. Being able to make your own meal is a basic survival skill, let alone life skill, and kids should definitely know how to do this before high school (even if it’s just scrambled eggs).

2. Laundry

I was either 10 or 11 when my mother showed me how to work the washer and dryer, and then relinquished any responsibility for washing my laundry. Again, you’d be surprised how many friends I had in college who’d never worked a washing machine. Clean clothes are a matter of hygiene, and knowing how to wash your own clothes is necessary.

3. Pitch In

Chores not only teach children responsibility, but they enforce the idea that the family is a unit, and each person plays a role in things running smoothly. Learning to work as part of a team is a skill that many employers value, and one that can’t be taught too early.

4. Managing Their Schedule

Today’s kids are overscheduled, a result of increasingly competitive college admissions. Having your child manage their own schedule will also help them learn to balance their social life, academics, extracurricular activities, part time job and family life. 

Consider using an organizational app like Cozi, where each family member can manage their schedule, and activities and appointments are placed on a family calendar.

5. Wake Up on Their Own

Part of managing your own schedule is also making sure that you get to the right places at the right time. Kids should definitely be in charge of setting their morning alarm and waking themselves up by the time they reach high school.

6. Make Important Phone Calls

In an age when texting reigns supreme, making professional phone calls is a skill that won’t come easily. Prepare your children by having them call places for information, change or schedule their own appointments, and make any other calls that concern them and that necessitate them communicating with a stranger.

7. Hold Themselves Accountable

The poor grade my child received on his test is more than likely due to some action, or inaction, on his own part. Instead of calling the teacher and demanding a higher grade for my child, I instead talk to him about what he did (or didn’t do) to receive a poor score. Hold your children accountable for their actions, they’ll thank you for it later.

8. Advocate for Themselves

That poor mark my kiddo received on his test? He discovered that he had his numbers off on the scantron sheet, but it’s his responsibility to approach his teacher with the issue, not mine. When our children advocate for themselves, they’re learning valuable lessons in responsibility and problem solving.

9. Lose with Grace

Unless your child plays sports or another competitive activity, you may not be presented with ample opportunities to teach them how to lose with grace, but it’s incredibly important. Real life means that everything won’t always go the way your child wants it to, and the best way you can prepare them is to teach them how to lose gracefully.

10. Manage Money

Knowing how to manage money is a life skill that should be taught way before high school, as we prepare our children for life. From the time children begin receiving an allowance or monetary gifts, we should be teaching them how to responsibly manage money. Consider using an educational app such as Bankaroo, that teaches kids how to manage their money.

11. Use a Map

Knowing how to use a map is not only necessary after the zombie apocalypse, but it helps kids develop a sense of direction. Yes, there are countless of GPS and mapping apps out there, but not one of them pushes the user to exercise any navigational skills. Isn’t it better to take in your surroundings when you’re exploring a new city, as opposed to keeping your eyes on your phone? 


About Lauren B. Stevens

Lauren B. Stevens is a writer, editor & digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.

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