20 life skills all kids should have by 16

In this digital, convenience-centric and consumable age, children are spending more and more time in front of screens and less time with parents, learning manual, useful life skills that will help them to live independently (hence they don’t leave home until they’re well into their 20s or later!).

Consequently, skills we all took for granted as children are dying out and too many children are growing up without the skills or attention span to make a bed, wire a plug or cook anything that doesn’t come in a microwaveable packet…

While we all talk about “life skills”, these are often referring to intangible skills, such as being responsible, time management, organisation, self-confidence, self-awareness and money management. These are all very valid life skills, but are we forgetting to teach our children the basic manual skills they need to simply live independently?

Some of these may seem really obvious, but here are 20 things our children should know how to do before they get to 16:

  1. Clean a bathroom – hygienically!
  2. Cook individual types of food: pasta, meat, rice, eggs (boiled/scrambled), vegetables, mashed potatoes
  3. Electrical repairs – change a bulb, wire a plug
  4. First aid – dress wounds, take temperature, treat a burn, administer CPR
  5. Household washing (colours & whites, stain removal, find the right program etc)
  6. Ironing – temperature control and different items, including shirts
  7. Know about fuse boxes – what they do and what to do when lights go off!
  8. Maintain a car (check oil, water, tyre pressure; change a tyre/wheel; fill petrol)
  9. Make a bed properly
  10. Make some basic meals from scratch: pancakes, cakes, Bolognese, cottage pie, roast dinner
  11. Mend a bicycle tyre puncture
  12. Peel and chop vegetables/fruit
  13. Polish shoes – properly
  14. Recycle – what recycles and what doesn’t
  15. Sew a button, mend a hole, basic sewing
  16. Stack a dishwasher properly (i.e. rinse off, load from back to front, where everything goes, so that it actually washes!!!)
  17. Read a book from cover to cover
  18. Know basic food hygiene rules
  19. Vacuum the house
  20. Write a proper letter (polite) and address an envelope

You may look at this list and think “Jeez I can’t do half of these things myself!” In which case, you can have fun learning together!

To purchase one or our books or see what your child’s Wondrous World book would look like (or your own!), go to www.wondrousink.com.

Written/published for Wondrous Ink Blog. 

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