Life Skills Parents Should Teach Their Kids On Snow Days—Or at Any Other Time
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Life Skills Parents Should Teach Their Kids On Snow Days—Or at Any Other Time

Every child should know how to sew a button, use a map, and make change

January 11, 2017

Many kids had at least one snow day away from school due to the recent snowstorm, and some schools are still closed. Although the kids may be expecting a day full of relaxation and fun, parents may want to take this opportunity to teach them some essential life skills that they will use throughout their lives.

Here are 12 life skills that every child should know in order to become a self-sufficient adult.

  1. Hand sew a button.
  2. It would be embarrassing to have to take a shirt to a tailor—or buy a new shirt altogether—simply to have a button or two sewn on. It is much easier—and almost certainly cheaper—to sew it on yourself. Free and easy-to-follow tutorials are widely available on many websites and in videos posted on YouTube. And don't let your boys get away with thinking that this is a skill that only girls should learn—if their clothes have buttons, they should know how to sew them on, pure and simple.

  3. Follow a recipe.
  4. Every child should have basic cooking skills that can be built on as he or she grows up. Toddlers can stir; preschoolers—with supervision—can help with the actual cooking; and kids old enough to read can follow a simple recipe. Teach them about the different abbreviations, tools, and methods, and make sure to include cleaning up as part of the lesson. This is another skill that some boys might balk at learning, but don't let them avoid it. Everyone needs to eat, so everyone needs to know how to prepare their food.

  5. Make a budget.
  6. Does your child get an allowance? Did they get some money to spend as a gift? Once kids are old enough to understand the purpose of money, they need to learn how to manage whatever amount they have. Teach them how important a budget is and how to make a simple one. If they're old enough, think about showing them your household budget to show how you apply what you're teaching them in your everyday lives.

  7. Deal with the toilet.
  8. Nobody is going to enjoy this lesson, but it needs to be done. Show your kids how to clean the toilet and how to unclog it with a plunger. Short and simple.

  9. Do the laundry.
  10. Just like everyone needs to know how to cook, everyone also needs to know how to do laundry. Young kids can do easy tasks like putting dirty clothes in the hamper, matching clean socks (those that don't somehow get lost in the wash, anyway), and folding small articles like washcloths and underwear. If you have older kids, they can actually do the whole laundry process.

  11. Wrap a gift.
  12. Grown-ups are often so busy that we end up leaving gift wrapping until the last minute before a birthday or holiday. Teaching kids to pull just the right amount of tape, cut the right amount of wrapping paper, and fold it in just the right places will take the burden off of your shoulders and give them the satisfaction of fulfilling a responsibility that you have entrusted to them with a result that they can actually touch and hold in their hands.

  13. Clean and organize their room.
  14. Some people are okay with more clutter than others. However, for the sake of hygiene it is important that kids keep their room at least clean. Actual organization, which among other benefits can make it easier to find their things, is the cherry on top—nice to have, but not absolutely necessary. If you want to encourage them to build a habit of organizing their space, consider providing—or helping them build—items such as shelves and shoe racks. You can even tie this lesson into the one on budgeting by teaching them to save for such helpful tools.

  15. Use a broom and dustpan.
  16. This is a pretty easy one. You might incorporate it into the lesson on cleaning their rooms.

  17. Make correct change.
  18. Yes, calculators and computers and smartphones have made our lives much, much easier. That being said, kids should still be able to do simple math in their head so that they don't have to rely on all-too-breakable machines. Start teaching kids how to make change when they have a solid understanding of money and basic arithmetic. You can even throw in sales tax when they get older.

  19. Use a map.
  20. The same principle of not overly relying on technology applies to maps as well as math. Yes, GPS is very convenient. Technology, however, is breakable and not always available, and an inability to read a map can leave you stranded and lost. Teach kids how to use a physical map by starting with your neighborhood—your street, your block, your community. Have them trace the routes you usually take to places like school and the grocery store. Over time, they can build up to helping plan road trips and vacations.

  21. Show gratitude.
  22. This is important because it affects many people in many ways. Not only is it good manners to thank people for doing or saying something kind, it may also benefit your health and well-being, as has been documented by Forbes, Newsweek, Harvard Medical School, the University of California at Berkeley, and several other outlets and studies. Writing thank you notes is a good way to start teaching your kids to show their thankfulness, but you don't have to stop there. Parents are well-placed to teach their kids to notice and appreciate the little things in their everyday lives. In doing so, you might also start to do the same in your own life. Win-win.

  23. Be bored.
  24. Yes, you read that right. Being constantly stimulated from screens and activities isn't good for anyone of any age. Researchers have been saying for decades that kids need unscheduled time to develop properly. Kids can get creative when they're bored and figure out the things that they really like to do.

Snow days can be lots of fun for kids, but they can be useful too if parents take advantage of them. Even so, you don't have to wait until your child has a day off to teach them a life skill. Any free time is an opportunity to teach them how to rely on themselves—skills that they will thank you for later.