As a parent, what practical lessons would you like to impart to your children? Every moment spent with our young ones is a teachable moment. Keeping in mind kids learn more by doing and watching.
We are privileged to be living in an era where information is at our fingertips; there are lots of resources on how we can parent which is invaluable at this time when the world seems to be a very confusing place. However, we must acknowledge that when it comes to parenting, experience is best. There is no perfect manual to doing this right.
I came across a list on the parents. com website on practical life skills we can teach our kids, and thought I could share my interpretation of the same.
1. How to do laundry. If you have a washing machine, depending on their age, they can learn how to load it. I haven’t done this with my kids yet (both under 10 years), but at their ages they can wash their handkerchiefs, inner wear and a few small clothing items by hand. They can also learn how to sort their laundry, fold and put it away.
Do not leave them alone at the laundry area and make sure the machine’s child lock is always on.
2. Plant a seedling. A lot of times this is done in school as part of learning, but now that the kids are home, it is a great time to do this with them. Best thing is you do not even need a garden, a small pot will do and it is a great lesson to teach them how to care for a living thing and how things grow.
3. Wrapping a gift. This is a lesson in patience for parents (read me) who prefer doing this fast, and noting that these days we often get our gifts wrapped at the store. But it is a fun activity to get those little fingers busy and see their creativity in wrapping. The festive season is here, let’s make the best of it with the extra pair of hands to help his wrap the gifts.
4. Hammering a nail. Will it hurt? Yes. Some tears will flow and maybe two or three drops of blood. And speaking from experience, the kids may get a little bit carried away when the tool box is within reach. Getting a smaller sized hammer is good for them as well as designated zones and materials (smaller planks of wood) to be hammered. There are lots of crafts videos online that one can choose to do with them and they can practice hammering away.
5. Writing a letter. This is an invaluable skill for anyone to have. As much as technology has made it a bit too easy to communicate, there is something about a handwritten letter that conveys much more depth and emotion than a text or email. When I was younger we had penpals from all over the world. Writing the letter, slipping in photos, adding the stamps and posting the letter and waiting weeks/ months for a response was so much fun. So do not wait till they learn how to write letters in their grammar class, teach them earlier and they will learn to appreciate the beauty in written words.
6. Preparing a Simple Meal. Fruits and sandwiches qualify. And making an egg. With supervision of course. Let them be your little sous chefs, let them touch, stir, mix, sniff and taste. It is a great way to teach them how their senses work too. How food comes together is art, science, a love language, and so much more. It is also a relaxed way to communicate with them. And what could be possibly wrong about knowing how to feed yourself?
7. Navigating. Thanks to Google maps, and other satnav apps it is not easy to get lost and worry about having to ask strangers for help these days. It is however important for our children to know how to get home from the nearest shop, or street without these apps. We all don’t live in areas with physical address numbers on our gates, but there are landmarks that can help the kids identify their way home. A police post, a communication mast, a coloured gate or roof, a funny shaped tree or post. If the street where you live has a name, let them know it. Also let the kids know where they can go for help if lost. When in a new area, it is important to know where the nearest police post is or local authority office and emergency services.
8. Treating a Wound. This is dependent on age, but let the kids at least know where the first aid box in the house is. Also what to do when they get a bump, a cut or graze, that they can clean it under running water if possible, and use some disinfectant. Let them also know what to do in case of nosebleeds.
9. Cleaning the bathroom. Please DO NOT let your kids use the cleaning supplies. They should be always out of reach. But they should know how to rinse the sink when done, clean the toilet seat before and after use. Rinse out the tub or shower area and mop up. If they can brush their teeth and wash themselves, this is not hard for them to do.
10. Finances. The website called this ‘comparison shopping’ but with young kids they may not understand this. This is also an interesting one as we do not usually talk to our kids about finances. It doesn’t have to be a complicated lecture. Let us talk to our kids about what money is, and how it is used. There are so many resources online on how to talk to kids about money. On comparison shopping, if you shop with the kids, they will be sure to note what is on sale (the placards are pretty big and colourful), you can explain to them what it means.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of practical skills to impart to our children. There is so much we teach them on a daily basis and they are always learning even when we or they are not aware of those teachable moments.
These things may be also obvious to some of us, and enlightening to others. Let us not take things for granted as parents.
What other practical skills do you think should be included in this list?