Life Skills for Kids

I recently read Life Skills for Kids by Christine Field.  I was looking for inspiration to get the kids to help me more around the house, like maybe a detailed list of age appropriate chores.  While she does offer a two-page rough list of chores by age groups, the inspiration came in a different form than I expected.

In this book Mrs. Field, a homeschooling mom, talks about how much planning we put into our kids education and fun activities yet we just expect them to pick up life skills by osmosis.  I had already planned on using Life Prep for  Homeschooled Teenagers by Barbara Frank to go over financial information (credit, budgeting, mortgages, etc)  with my kids in high school, but I had  not really made a specific game plan to teach each of my kids other life skills like cooking, laundry, cleaning, and home maintenance.

The book breaks down the skill areas into things like Cleaning, Shopping, Life Navigation, Health Habits, and even one for spiritual habits (very Protestant leaning).  Field recommends that you go through each section and put together a specific check list of each skill in each area that a child needs to know in order to someday be a competent adult.  Then she suggests making a binder/book/folder for each child you have with a copy of the check list.  And then as each child becomes competent in each task you can check it off the list.  You can also add pictures, directions, recipes, and scrap booking things to each child’s book.

I am personally not really big on scrapbooking (our family photo albums are almost non-existent), so I scrapped that part of it.  But I did put together a three-page, double-column list of skills that I think are important.  Some I know will be addressed through schoolwork (counting money) or come up naturally in the course of life (brushing teeth).  Others, though, will involve taking the time to teach them (fuses/circuit breakers).  I printed out four copies of my list, labeled one set for each of the girls, hole-punched them, and put them in the back of my home procedure binder (where I keep my cleaning lists, dinner schedules, most-used recipes).

The next thing I did was look through the Zone cleaning lists I had compiled when I started trying to do FlyLady months ago.  I made an asterisk next to every chore on each list that I thought Bailey (8) could already do or was ready to learn.  Then I put a little triangle next to the ones that I thought Piper (5) could already do or was ready to learn.  Eventually Katie (3) and Sabrina (1) will get their own symbols, too.

Now instead of giving each child a list of daily or weekly chores, I decided to just incorporate them into some of my chore time.  I set aside fifteen minutes between breakfast and the start of schoolwork for zone cleaning.  I look at the FlyLady zone of the week, then I turn to my list of chores for that zone, and I assign each of the girls an age-appropriate chore from the list.  For instance, one week’s zone was the kitchen so I had Bailey clean out the microwave and Piper wipe down the cannisters while I scrubbed the stove top.  Since the zones rotate each week, the girls should do a variety of chores through the course of a month.

In addition to the daily zone cleaning they are also required to clean up after themselves more and help with “Room Rescues” throughout the day to keep the kitchen and living room from looking like disaster areas.  I’m trying to have the patience to incorporate them into more cooking, especially when it comes to lunch items.  And if they show an interesting in doing a chore I’ve been trying to step back and let them do it even if it’s not done perfectly.  Bailey was really interested in helping me vacuum last week, so I also showed her how to clean out the dirt cup, wind the electrical cord, and dismantle the under compartment to clean the rotating brush which are all skills listed on her Life Skills checklist.

I figure that every so often I will go through each girls checklist and mark the things that I feel they are capable of doing with no further instruction as well as look for any gaps that need special attention.  I will also need to periodically reassess which zone chores they are capable of trying.  Right now I let Katie (3) help as much as she is willing, but I plan to incorporate her in zone cleaning when she turns five.  Mrs. Field indicates that each child should be capable of most (if not all) of these things by the age of 14.

Now that we have a game plan, I am hopeful that when our kids leave the nest they will have more life skills then I did when I left home.

Explore posts in the same categories: Books, Homeschooling/Education, Parenting, Philosophy

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