You will find that to teach your children life skills is very rewarding. As an extra bonus while you teach your child life skills you learn and grow as a person. (you will learn more about patience and perseverance as you nurture these essential life skills in your child)
You will feel better about yourself as a parent as you watch your child grow, your self-esteem will be enriched in much the same way as your children's self esteem and we could all use a boost in our self-esteem.
You can teach your child something each day, just by sharing your daily existence. When your child sees that you value being at work on time, or being on time for an appointment, they will realize that it is important to be on time, being late is not good. They see you listen to them when they want to tell you something, they learn that it is more important to listen than to speak and they see how to be a good listener. They see when you start some task, you finish it. So they see that it is important to finish something you started and not to leave things half way. They see that when you struggle with something, you persevere and continue until you resolved the problem, so they see one must - NEVER GIVE UP. (Which is a great quality in life)
One of the most important reasons your children learn from you effectively is because we love them and they trust us. But that love can fail us sometimes, because trying to teach your children, sometimes may be frustrating. Maybe you tried to teach your child something that you found to be very difficult. After allot of attempts to teach your child maybe to play the guitar or solve math problems, you would throw your hands in the air and decide never to try this again. This frustration might be because you are trying too hard. Relax, it is all fine, your child needs to see how you deal with frustration. (Seeing how you deal with it all will open their eyes to the ways you handle tough tasks) When they see you don't give up, maybe you change your ways of trying to explain and eventually succeed, they learn about perseverance.
Sometimes you might feel that you are not teaching your children life skills, but you actually are, you must just live life with a raised consciousness that your children are watching and learning from you. So remember the impact of what you're doing will have on them.
Sometimes there might be some skills that you cannot teach your child yourself. This is also OK, that is why there are other people who are skilled in these thing, like for instance if you are not good with math, but there is a math tutor in you are, why not let them help to teach your child math. Maybe your child wants to learn to play the piano, but you have got no clue on how to, I am certain that you will find a piano class somewhere in your area and those skilled people can teach your child these skills. Asking for help (or paying someone with these skills) is not a sign of weakness, it is a step toward independence.
Here is an example of how you can turn your daily activities into learning experiences:
Doing the laundry:
While you are doing the laundry, which has to be done in any case, you start giving your child things to do. If they are used to you doing everything for them, you start small. They will also learn valuable skills which will last the rest of their lives. Doing laundry teaches reading and measuring skills as well. It may look simple and mindless, but your child exercises many critical thinking skills while doing laundry. First there is the sorting of the clothes, which requires logical thinking and categorizing skills. Then there's reading the directions, your child need to see the difference between the amounts of detergent required for the different loads. They will need to set the dials on the machine as directed on the soap container. They need to follow directions in sequential order. All this is great practice of some terrific survival skills and your clothes get clean in the process. What a great accomplishment for both of you.
To begin with, a child of almost any age can keep track of his dirty clothes. My children each have a hamper and dustbin in their bedrooms. Since they were small, I kept on drilling into them when they take off their clothes to put it in the hamper. If they did not do it (and scattered them over the floor), I would simply show them the clothes and ask them if that is where it goes?
On wash days they can sort the whites from the colored fabrics, this is a great way for young children to learn color names. When it gets to the washing machine, you will want to review the directions on the machine. Let your child read the directions (if possible) and then check this by having him/her explain the steps to you. You must explain how you make choices about speed and water temperatures based on the type of laundry load. Ask your child to estimate if the load is small, medium or large. After a few loads, they will get the hang of it. You can put up a simple chart close to the washing machine that says:
Step 1: Load clothes
Step 2: Set wash size
Step 3: Set water temperature
Step 4: Add detergent
This way you will make sure they do not miss a step and maybe wash the clothes without detergent.
Then have your child read the directions on the laundry soap. There are normally charts explaining the amount of soap needed and make sure that your child understand these directions by asking him/her to explain to you how much they would use. Let them measure the detergent and pour it in.
Older children should be encouraged to read the care labels on the clothes before loading the washer. Tell them that if the label says "Dry clean only" not to put it in the washing machine. Explain to them why washing and drying wool sweaters is a bad idea and that they might shrink to extra small. The label information will show your child what temperature the water must be as well as some advice on how to wash them.
Kids as young as three can help fold and arrange the clean clothes. They can start with small things like the underwear, because they can pile them up neatly without folding them. Matching sock pairs is also a great visual exercise which can help with important skills. Carefully looking at the socks and finding the mates is not unlike carefully looking at letters to decipher the differences between them. Children from about four years of age can put the clean laundry back in the cupboards. If your child likes playing dress up -as it seems almost every girl goes through this stage, it is great fun to throw all the clothes all over the floor. This will be cured quickly when they have to help you to put them back. You can fold the clothes and she can put it back into the cupboard.
Then kids who are old enough, around twelve should be responsible for doing their own laundry, by loading, washing, drying, folding and putting away their own clothes.
Imagine this: for many years you have been asking them to do things like turn their clothes right side out before they go into the wash or clean out their pockets before putting clothes in the wash - and then all of the sudden when they have to do the washing, they realize why you had these requests and they start doing it all by themselves.
Doing laundry teaches them:
- following directions
- organizational skills
One day, while my kids were still in public school, I got a flat tire on the way to the school. Because we are regularly reminded that a woman who is driving alone and gets a flat tire should not stop, I drove to school to pick them up. When I got there, I immediately called my husband to come and exchange the tire for me. Don't you think it would have been allot more of a learning experience if they saw that I could do it myself and then I would not have to let my husband take time of work to come and do it. (FYI - I know how to, I just didn't like the idea of getting down with my long denim skirt and high heels to change the tire)
I am sure that you enjoyed part 4 of teach children life skills and I am confident that you will share this important information with your friends. If you did not start at the beginning, be sure to start with teach children life skills part one and work your way down to part 4, if you did start at the beginning, you can go directly to part 5.
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