Practical Life Skills for Kids

October 25, 2019

By Guest Writer Ashley Smith

You Are The Teacher

I remember that beautiful moment when a nurse handed us our fresh new baby. I felt an overwhelming wave of emotion — full of both joy and fear. We were responsible for this sweet baby. Those first few months of our son’s life were all about keeping this precious human alive, fed, clothed, and reasonably clean. He depended on us for literally everything. It felt like an endless cycle of pure survival. Then we slowly began the transition out of the stage of total dependence on us, and our son started testing his own skill. He soon declared, “No, MAMA! I do myself!” and thus, a new season was born.

I quickly realized that even though my son wanted independence, he was relying on me to pave the way and give him instruction. As parents and as mothers, we must realize that we are the greatest teachers in our children’s lives. Others will come and go for seasons, add value here and there . . . but it is up to us to shape our children’s world view and equip them for life. We must instill in them the truths of God’s Word, character, values, principles, and even very practical life skills that will guide them on their journey. Let’s chat about some of those practical life skills and how we can teach them to our children.

Life Skills At Every Age

From the time my children were little, I have always looked for ways to involve them in the everyday tasks of life. When they were first toddling around, they would help me carry towels to the laundry room. As they grew older, we would sort the laundry and practice our colors. We’ve progressed to learning how to add detergent to the washing machine, load the clothes on their own, choose the cycle (still under close parental supervision!), and then transfer loads from the washing machine to the dryer. 

Teach your children the importance of telling adults their name, making eye contact, shaking hands when introduced, and paying attention when others speak. Even the shyest of children need to acquire this life skill! Before we attend large events or conferences, my husband and I will coach our children on these points. Preparation and setting up expectations before events happen have been key to helping our children succeed! 

Let your children cook with you, load and unload dishwashers, and scrub baseboards and toilets. Teach them to sort, wash, dry, and fold laundry. I promise you, your three-year-old can be a complete master at folding washcloths!

Teach them how to put gas in the car and how to regularly maintain vehicles. Let them see you make deposits at the bank, and show them how to fill out deposit slips and write checks. As their understanding grows, teach them to balance bank statements, to use budget software, and to allocate a paycheck to the appropriate budget fund. 

Show them how to pick out recipes, shop grocery sales, and meal plan . . . all while staying on budget. Let them check out in the self-check at the grocery store, calculate how much cash to give for the groceries, and then count their change to make sure it’s correct. Invite them into the process. 

Teach them how to navigate the world around them in a very practical sense. When you get off the elevator in a hotel, tell them the room number, and have them read the signs to figure out where your room is located. Teach them how to read GPS on a phone, how to read a physical map, then how to navigate by watching actual road signs.

We wanted to include some age-appropriate guidelines to help you get started! Download them here.

Start Where You Are

I want to encourage you, in whatever season you find yourself and your children, to start where you are. You haven’t fallen behind, and there is still time to teach and invest into your children. Don’t feel the pressure to do it all at once. Take things moment by moment and day by day. 

It will take time to invest and teach your children. There are plenty of days that I think, It would be so much easier and faster to do this myself. But doing it myself does nothing to equip my children or encourage their own learning and growing. So I take a deep breath, whisper a prayer for patience, and start instructing again. Their beginnings may be small, but you will see great reward soon!


Ashley Smith is mom to Oden and Judah, and wife to Nate. She serves with her husband on pastoral staff at New Life Church of Cabot, and together they serve ARYouth. Ashley loves health, wellness, good food and conversation, books, and music.

Find more of her writings at www.ashleychelle.com

Connect with her @ashleychelle316