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Life Skills are passed from one generation to the next

We often hear parents and teachers discuss the importance of teaching kids life skills. But what does that mean? Can we actually define life skills?

Dictionary.com defines a life skill as a noun:

“Usually life skills. a skill that helps a person to function well in adult life, especially in social or emotional situations

And with that definition, we realize that the actual life skills needed might vary depending on the family, the child, the region or country they live in, and so much more.  Still, most consider the common life skills such as patience and perseverance as universal.

By building our life skills, we enrich ourselves as individuals, families, and communities.

I grew up on a small family farm. My Dad worked from home as a self-employed mechanic and tow truck operator. My Mom helped him with the garage and farm. She also ran a small business of her own, a food truck that she operated part-time. While we were not wealthy, we had opportunities that not everyone had.

My parents taught us life skills.

teaching kids life skills | mechanic

My grandfather, also a self-employed mechanic, taught my father mechanic skills. They shared a love of fixing things and of vehicles which then translated to a shared career.

But Grandpa didn’t stop there. He knew that teaching kids life skills enabled them to live a happier and more productive life. And so, he also shared with him his love of woodworking, general household repairs, and so much more.

My mother’s mother shared her love of cooking and baking, household skills, and many other life skills. Even as young adults, my parents’ capabilities ensured they could manage most of life’s challenges. Thankfully, their parents knew the importance of teaching kids life skills.

My parents continued the trend

As children, we attended public school, just as everyone we knew did. However, much of our actual learning took place at home.

The farm, garage, and home provided a full spectrum of learning experiences. School, 4-H, and other programs added to our teachings.

I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t create an actual plan to teach us any of that. We learned by watching and practicing along side our parents. By the time we graduated high school, each of us had a strong foundation of life skills.

Life skills training continues

We homeschooled our children. So life skills naturally existed as part of the education plan. Living each day together, many of those skills just happened.

Household Helpers

Children learn to manage laundry by helping from an early age. At first, they just gather the laundry and help load the washer and dryer. Over time, they learn the proper amount of detergent, how to remove stains, and which materials need to wash separately.

They learn lawn care working alongside parents. Weeding, mowing, planting, and caring for plants might not seem to be necessary skills to everyone. But they allow us to learn to care for our own lawns and gardens. Even if the person chooses to hire a gardener or lawn care company in the future, they still have the knowledge of what should be done.

Not just for the house

Helping with car care gives kids the chance to understand basic maintenance. We taught our kids to change the oil, check the fluids, and change a tire before they passed the driving test. Sure, they might not need those skills every day. Certainly with all of the oil change businesses in town, dropping off the car for a change while you grab a cup of coffee seems simple enough. But a knowledge of the basics gives them the choice. And it creates a sense of understanding their vehicle, too.

Our kids learn other household skills by doing them with us, including painting, fence repairs, and garden skills. They may never need them as adults, but if they do, they have the basic skills to proceed.

Two commercials recently featured on TV create strikingly different images.

One speaks of the need for tech and skills training.

Our president even signed a bill intended to focus on these much needed vocational programs. Mike Rowe actively promotes skills training to help fill the many job openings for electricians, welders, and other tech employment.

See Mike Rowe Foundation

teaching kids life skills | plumbing

The second displays a dramatically different viewpoint.

It features a father figure and promotes a service to find a handyman. The man claims he is pretty handy around the house, but now that he has kids, he doesn’t want to spend time making repairs around the house.

In fact, this might sound admirable; Dad wants to spend time with the kids. What a great choice!

However, I feel a bit of sadness for the kids.  Without his teaching and mentoring, they won’t learn basic household skills. And then, as adults, they probably need to call a handyman for even simple repairs.

In effect, the ad seems to indicate that handymen skills are not as valuable.

Should all children learn to be welders or mechanics?

Definitely not. Can you imagine a world where we all made the same choice? Each person needs to find his or her own unique career path, 

However, teaching our kids life skills serves them throughout life. These basic skills are helpful whether they become a stay-at-home Mom, welder, doctor, or business owner. Discounting the value of these skills creates a skewed vision of real life.

Everyone can learn basic skills

Whether you use a public school or a private school, or choose homeschooling, consider teaching kids life skills. In its simplest form, it might include helping cook dinners and do the laundry. Other skills include changing the oil in the car and learning to change a tire. Expand as your child learns. Consider teaching to change water faucets, unclog pipes, and painting inside or outside the house.

Whether your child becomes a mechanic, a teacher, or a scientist, these life skills stay with him throughout his life. And they might even choose one of them as a career!


Interested in the individual life skills? Read more here!


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