As a mother and a special educator, I generally feel pretty good about my ability to teach children the necessary life skills for a successful future. But recently I was thinking about several life skills that I didn’t teach, at least not as early on as I probably should have!
1. Putting on/fastening a belt
My son recently got a job as a golf caddy. He has to wear a belt. Watching him try to put one on for the first time was truly painful! Did I ever teach him how to put on and fasten a belt?
All the kids these days wear jogging pants to school, at home, everywhere. When he was little, I dressed him. We don’t have “dressy” occasions to go to very often so he never even owned a belt until he started caddying.
But there comes a time in everyone’s life when they need to wear a belt. Teach kids how to do this before, they are expected to know how to do it… and become embarrassed when they don’t.
Here is a step by step article that demonstrates (with pictures) how to fasten a belt.
An here is a youtube video on how to fasten a double ring belt.
2. Undoing a tight knot
The other day my son called to me in a panic. “Mom! I can’t get out of my suit!” He had pulled on the drawstring of his bathing suit and created a very tight knot. He had no idea how to undo the knot. He was panicking about not being able to get out of his bathing suit which was now halfway down his hips because he was trying to squeeze out. Of course, he was now stuck.
Undoing a very tight knot is not something I ever really considered taking the time to teach…but just think of all of the potential situations when it could come in handy. Another good “under the radar” life skill lesson! Here is a great tutorial on how to undo a knot.
3. Cutting food with a knife
Oh boy! Imagine my embarrassment when my son was sitting at a table with his entire hockey team for a pancake breakfast…and he had no idea how to cut his giant stack of pancakes. He took his knife and basically poked at the pancakes, not sure what to do. Now we are not people who don’t teach their kids things, I promise! But using a knife just never came up in our house because over the years my kids tended to eat mostly “finger foods”…and when they didn’t, yes, I cut their food for them (she says sheepishly)…:(
How could I have missed teaching my kids how to cut with a knife?!…But I did.
Here is a great tutorial on how to teach your kids safe knife use.
4. Using a key
I know, this one seems obvious…but it can be easily forgotten or put off. My kids have always been with me or my husband. They just recently started doing things like walking home from school and being home alone. So the other day I decided to check to see if my kids could unlock our front door which has a finicky lock. Watching my kids try to get the key in the lock and unlock the door was pretty horrifying! Not because of the finicky lock, but because they really had no idea how to even put the key in!
Time for yet another forgotten life skill to be brought to life! Here is a great article that shows how to use a key to unlock a door.
5. Figuring out how much change should come back to you after a purchase
I have spent a lot of time teaching my kids coins, counting coins and how to pay for items. But recently it came to my attention that some people will give young kids the wrong change, on purpose, because they know that kids are not counting the change they get back. This has been happening to a friend of mine. Her son likes to walk to a local store with his friends to buy some candy or other small item. My friend started checking the change he was receiving back and noticed that often he was getting a dollar less than he should be.
This makes me very sad but is also a reminder that we need to teach our kids; 1. that they need to count their change to make sure it is correct and 2. how to figure out and count the change that they should be getting back after making a purchase. Here are a couple of examples of how to teach counting change.
6. Knowing your own and others phone numbers
With technology so advanced today, we often find ourselves not knowing or own phone numbers. After all, we don’t usually call ourselves But we do need to know our phone number and we should know other important phone numbers, even though we usually can just scroll through our phone directory on our cell phone and click on the name or picture of the person we want to call.
My son wants a cell phone but I am hoping to avoid another bill until absolutely necessary. However, I do not want to leave him home alone without a phone. We have not felt a need to have a land line given that we have cell phones. In order to avoid buying my son a cell phone, I recently installed a land line in our home (since we already pay for the service which is included with our wifi).
Patting myself on the back for figuring out how to get the phone activated (not as easy as just plugging it in), I went about my business. The next time I was going to go somewhere and leave my son home alone, I dutifully showed him the phone and wrote down my phone number (because I knew he didn’t have my number memorized…even though he should for safety reasons). But while I was out my son didn’t call me to check in.
When I got home and asked him about it, he told me he couldn’t figure out how to “dial” the phone. He had so little experience with phones, he didn’t know what buttons to push to get a dial tone, etc. I realized then that I had not taught him how to use a variety of phones, to memorize our phone numbers and to understand what numbers you need to use depending on where you are calling from, i.e. do you need a 1, an area code?
These are, of course, important life skills for all children to have. I have since, gone over how to use our land line and cell phone with my son. Practice using the phones is essential. Here is a great tutorial on how to make phone calls using a cell phone, land line and skype.
Do you have a child or student who could benefit from learning the more basic skill of memorizing their phone number and “dialing” that number on a cell phone?
Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!
Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids