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I think getting a jump start on teaching your kids practical life lessons they can carry throughout their life is necessary. What valuable life skills did you teach early to equip them for the real world? Do you see results?
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Yes, I wish more parents would consider teaching their kids life skills at an early age. Schools no longer teach most life skills, so it is up to the parent to instill these valuable lessons.
Some essential life skills that I can think of are:
Letter writing (and addressing envelopes)
Money management and check writing, banking skills
I think that little children can begin to pick up on the hows and whys of these skills as we go about our daily life. They will naturally pick up on these skills when you explain what you are doing, demonstrate it to them, and when they are old enough to allow them to participate.
Too often, we are in a hurry, and it is easier to just do our daily business ourselves without instructing the children about what we are doing. Children are curious and love to help, so starting them early is a great idea to build life-long skills to make them competent adults.
You are absolutely right. I have seen the value in equipping our kids with life skills from early on to ensure that by the time they reach their later teen years, they are confident and ready to become independent.
For me, one of the easiest ways to teach life skills was to include my kids into the chore roster from a young age. From early on, they learned to tidy up after themselves and as they got older, their chores also began to include communal tasks such as helping with dishes, folding laundry etc. As a result, both of my kids have good habits and are also always willing to lend a hand on chore day - it has become second nature to them.
Another important life skill I began teaching early were financial skills - saving and budgeting. My kids have learned the value of saving and of delayed gratification. They can decide how to spend their money in a way that gives them the best value. I achieved this by giving a set amount of pocket money a month, helping my kids draw up a budget, and helping them make a plan to save for big ticket items. While they do sometimes still make unwise choices, I am confident that they can budget and plan effectively.
I absolutely agree that our job as parents is to teach our children and prepare them to function independently in the world.
We are a large family and have always encouraged our kids to take responsibility for their self-care. From 2 years old, our kids were encouraged to dress themselves and we bought items they could manage for their age - such as elastic waist pants, slip on shoes etc.
We have also taught our kids to get their own breakfast from an early age and cereal makes this pretty easy. Our kids catch the bus to school and walk to the bus stop together as a group. We have allowed them to go the the park alone as they got older but needed to take a phone so we can be in contact. We have encouraged them to be responsible.
My youngest is now 7 and my oldest is 14 and people are always saying how well our home functions because the kids are so independent and not 'needy'. Its definitely worth the effort in those early years to spend time teaching them these skills.