Your goal as a parent is to prepare your children to be independent adults one day. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the busyness of daily living and forget there some really important skills they should be learning. Today I’m sharing a list of old fashioned life skills kids need to know.
Plus, be sure to grab my free printable Old Fashioned Life Skills Kids Need to Know checklist at the bottom of this post.
As adults it can be so easy to take for granted all the things we know how to do. Maybe you learned these skills the hard way or maybe you had a faithful family member, friend, or mentor who taught you.
Sometimes it’s easier to just “do it yourself” than it is teach and train your children. But, as parents we have a huge responsibility to raise children who are productive, kind, independent people when they grow up.
Old Fashioned Life Skills Kids Need to Know
So let’s talk about some of the old fashioned life skills kids need to know when they grow up.
Knowing how to sew a button, take up a hem, or mend an item of clothing is something every adult should know how to do. If you don’t know basic sewing skills either, try watching some YouTube videos together and practicing your newly learned skills!
I bought my girls a basic sewing machine once my sewing machine bit the dust. I don’t do a lot of sewing these days, but I used to have a little sewing business way back in the early 2000s. I’m not a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination, but know the basics of using a sewing machine as well as how to stitch by hand is a great skill to have.
Light a Fire
My kids have all learned how to build fires when they were young. Every time we go camping, we practice building fires. If you don’t have a fireplace, you could practice in a fire pit or on a camp out. Being able to build a fire and keep it going – even in the rain – is a skill that is not only practical in the winter time but it’s also a skill that could be life saving.
related: Read about our 4 day, 24 Mile, All Girl Backpacking trip when my kids were younger.
Clean a Home
Knowing how to clean a house is so important. Not only do you want your kids to be able to manage a home on their own, you also want them to do it well. If you’ve struggled to manage your own home, you know what it’s like to not understand how to keep a house clean.
You don’t have to be a perfect housekeeper to teach your kids how to clean a house. In fact, I’d encourage you to really take a look at the chores that need done around your home and assign tasks as appropriate to your kids.
Teach them how to clean and maintain a home by letting them practice on chores. It’s important that kids understand the expectations before they begin a chore. Explain the steps.
Be sure to check their work and gently correct any mistakes they make as they are learning.
related: Housekeeping 101 Binder Bundle: Step by Step Housekeeping Guide
Create a Budget
Managing your money is such an important old fashioned life skill kids need to know! Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior Kit is a great place to start.
Financial Peace Junior is designed to help you teach your kids about money. It’s packed with tools, resources and step-by-step instructions for parents. What can be intimidating is made ultra-easy. There are ideas for activities and age-appropriate chores, and you’ll have all the tools you need to make learning about money a part of your daily life. Your kids will love the exciting games and toys. The lessons of working, giving, saving and spending are brought to life through fun stories in the activity book, and kids will love tracking their progress on the dry-erase boards! Financial Peace Junior doesn’t just give you the tools to teach your kids to win with money―it shows you how.
Do the Laundry and Iron
Every child should know how to wash their own clothes from start to finish. By the time my kids were teens they were able to sort, wash a load of clothes, read clothing care label, fold, and put away clothes.
When my kids were younger, I would put their laundry in a large dishpan for them to carry to their rooms. It made carrying their own laundry easier.
When your child is old enough to use an iron without burning themselves or burning the clothing, teach them this old fashioned life skill! Ironing should be closely supervised by an adult until your child understands how to properly use an iron. Teach them how to read the fabric labels and understand what temperature to iron each piece of clothing at.
I have laundry symbol guides in my free subscriber exclusive resource library.
Because almost everyone uses cell phones these days – including kids – you may not think about teaching your kids how to properly communicate on the phone.
But knowing how to make a business call or other formal call is very important.
- Introduce yourself
- Speak clearly
- Let the other caller know if you are using a speaker phone
- Take notes and actively listen
- Be polite
- Check for and respond to voicemails.
Write a Letter
Another wonderful old fashioned life skill kids need to know is how to write a letter. Writing letters is a skill that is often neglected or even forgotten in this day and age. I’m certainly guilty of this! But how sweet it is to receive a letter or card in the mail. My daughter-in-law, Hannah Claire, is so good about always putting a card or note in the mail and it always delights my heart. It’s like a little surprise in the mail!
Practice writing letters and sending cards to friends and family. Talk about what to include in the letter as well as how to properly structure the different parts of a letter.
You can talk about the differences between writing a personal letter versus writing a formal business letter. Put the letter or card in an envelope, put a stamp on it and drop it in the mailbox.
Write a Thank You Note
This life skill goes along with writing letters. When someone gives you a gift or does something nice for you, writing a thank you note is a thoughtful gesture. Texting and email just do not have the same feeling than a thoughtful card in the mail.
“Since the dawn of time, people have struggled with the right way to say thank you. From prehistoric grunts around a campfire (Urrrp…good meat) all the way to present-day postings on Facebook (Shout out to my peeps!), we’ve come up with lots of easy ways to say thanks. Phone calls, emails, text messages—they all get the job done. But a handwritten thank-you note says more: It tells our friends and family that we went out of our way to sit down and write just to them, because they’re worth it.” Jeanne Field, from Hallmark.
Follow a Recipe
My girls have been learning how to cook since they were little. Over the years I would just give them a recipe and ask them to make it. It’s really paid off because they are all really good cooks now!
Anyone can cook if they learn to follow a recipes. Steps to making a recipe are:
- Read the entire recipe before you begin.
- Check to make sure you have all the ingredients.
- Read the instructions as you go.
- Double check ingredients, measurements, and temperatures as you go.
- Follow instructions carefully.
Basic Cooking and Baking
All kids should learn how to prepare basic foods before they leave home. Having the ability to cook food that is healthy and tastes good is an important old fashioned life skill to have. Plus you’ll worry less knowing your child can make basic meals and won’t starve to death.
Make a list of your favorite basic meals and have your child learn to make them one by one. Here are some basic foods to help you get started:
- Cook an egg all the ways:
- boil an egg
- scrambled eggs
- poached eggs
- fried eggs
2. How to make a salad
3. How to make the perfect pancake.
4. How to make spaghetti.
5. How to make tacos.
One great resource I believe you’ll love is the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse from Katie Kimball. She makes things so doable for kids and really lays it all out logically so that you don’t have to do any thinking. Instead, just enjoy the time with your kids!
If you could use a little boost or a little guidance, the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse is your best bet. It’s the only class I know of that teaches kids to cook real food in a kid-friendly way!
Being able to shake hands properly will help your kids be confident when meeting new people. I believe even girls need to be able to give a good hand shake.
I personally have a pet peeve about weak handshakes. Teach your kids to greet someone by looking them in the eye and holding out their right hand. The handshake should be firm but not too tight.
The exception to this would be when shaking a frail, elderly person’s hand. In that case, be very gentle so you don’t break their hand. It happens!
Another old fashioned life skill every kid needs to know is how to properly introduce themselves. When meeting a new person, it’s important to look them in the eye and smile. Greet them cordially and tell them who you are. Ask them what their name is if they have not offered the information already.
Understand the differences in culture upon meeting new people when traveling. Greet new people with a culturally appropriate greeting.
Plant and Garden
You don’t have to be a master garden to get outside and teach your kids the basics of gardening. Kids love to dig in the dirt and learning how to weed a garden, plant a variety of plants, and even harvest some fruits and veggies.
Some kids loves gardening more than others, but even if your child doesn’t love working in the yard, knowing how to plant a garden – however small – is an important life skill to have.
Interview for a Job
I remember how nervous I was the first time I applied for a waitressing job. Save your kids the stress and make sure they know what’s expected in an interview and how to interview for a job.
Your child should know the basics of interviewing for a job such as:
- How to dress for an interview
- How to look confident
- How to answer questions
- What to do when you don’t know how to answer
Take Down a Message
Even though most people have their own phones these days, being able to take a message, write down the appropriate information is important. It’s also important to remember to give the message to the intended recipient.
As old fashioned as taking a message is, it’s still an important life skill kids need.
Save Up for Something
If you buy everything for your kids and never have them save up money to buy something they really want, you’re doing them a great disservice. Being able to save money, delay gratification, and eventually purchase what they really want is a life skill that will help them be financially successful later in life.
Basic Car Maintenance
Knowing how to check the oil, check the tire pressure and more is important even for girls to know how to do. I went into adulthood knowing basically nothing about cars or car maintenance. And if I’m being honest, that’s still pretty much the case!
Here’s a great list of basic car maintenance and a printable checklist to help you teach your kids how to care for a car.
Change a Tire
I’ve had a few flat tires over the years and knowing how to change a tire means you don’t have to rely on the help of strangers.
- Always change a tire on a flat surface. You never want to try to change a tire on an incline.
- Remove the wheel cover.
- Loosen all of the lug nuts.
- Jack up the vehicle about six inches off the ground. Make sure your kids know the dangers of a car jack.
- Remove the flat tire.
- Lift the spare tire onto the lug bolts and replace the lug nuts.
- Lower the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts.
- Replace the wheel cover.
https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-change-a-tireRead more about how to change a tire here.
Take Care of a Pet
We’ve always had pets. Learning out to take care of a pet is a life skill.
- touch a pet the right way
- feed and water a pet
- walk a puppy
- clean up after a pet’s messes
- show kindness to a pet
Basic Home Improvement
The best way to teach your kids how to maintain a home is to let them work alongside you. Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of tasks that need to be looked after. It’s hard to know what to do if you’ve never been taught.
“Like a regular health check-up, a home maintenance schedule is important for every house’s upkeep. Continuing to check on your exterior, appliances, heating and cooling, plumbing, security, and electrical systems will help prevent breakdowns, save money, and keep your home looking its best.” Jessica Bennett, Better Homes and Gardens
Download their Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist for Ever Season
Admit a Mistake
Realizing you’ve made a mistake or even hurt someone takes a lot of maturity. It’s important to admit when you’e made a mistake and ask for forgiveness if appropriate.
Kids need to know it’s okay to make a mistake. They also need to know how to admit they made a mistake.
- Access the damage you’ve done.
- Admit your mistake. Don’t wait to be called out.
- Take responsibility and don’t blame other people.
- Be humble.
- Do what you can to make it right.
Give a Genuine Apology
If you’ve ever dealt with a child who did something wrong and asked them to apologize, you’ve probably realized how easy it is for a child to snap off an apology that doesn’t really mean anything.
Sometimes people are sorry they got caught more than they are sorry for what they did. Teaching children the value of a genuine apology is so important!
One of the best ways to teach your child how to express a genuine apology is to demonstrate this yourself. If you do something you regret or say something you wish you hadn’t said to your child, be quick to apologize.
A good apology looks like:
- Admit what you did was wrong.
- Acknowledge how the other person felt.
- Express your remorse.
- Make amends.
- Change your behavior.
Set the Table
Setting the table shouldn’t take long and it’s not hard. Every child should know how to set a table so it looks nice. Teaching children how to properly set a table is a valuable skill they need.
Excerpted from my post: How to Feed Your Family Well
Basic Table Setting Instructions
- Set place mat on the table or use a table cloth as desired.
- Put dinner plate on the center of place mat.
- Fold napkin and place in center of plate or to the left of the plate.
- Place fork to the left of the dinner plate and on top of napkin if not in center of plate.
- Place salad fork to the left of the fork if you are serving salad.
- Place knife to the right of dinner plate with the blade pointing toward the pate.
- Place spoon to the right of the knife.
- Place cup at the 1:00 position to the right of the dinner plate above the knife and spoon.
- If you use a salad plate and/ or bowl, you can place these on top of the dinner plate.
You can download my free printable Table Setting Place Mat in my subscriber exclusive resource library or fill out the form below to get instant access.
Good Table Manners
Sometimes it seems like manners have disappeared from our society. As if being polite is an antiquated idea. But manners make society more pleasant and there’s certainly nothing wrong with being polite, eating at the table correctly, and showing respect for others with your behavior.
Here are a few books that could help you teach manners to your kids:
- A Parent’s Guide to Manners for Kids by Elise McVeigh
- Tiffany’s Table Manners for Teenagers by Walter Hoving
- Emily Post’s Etiquette by Lizzie Post
Dress for the Occasion
Dressing for the occasion may seem obvious, but wearing clothing that represents you well, demonstrates your relationship with God, and looking polished and put together at the right times is an important life skill.
The way you dress says a lot about your character and priorities. Teach your children how to choose their outfits appropriately based on where they are going and what type of event they are attending.
If you need help teaching them what to wear or picking out clothes for your kids, the Complete Wardrobe Guide for Kids is super helpful!
Carry a Conversation
So many kids today prefer texting instead of face to face conversations. Being able to hold a real conversation not only with peers but their elders as well is a very important life skill all kids need to practice.
The best way to help your kids learn to have meaningful conversations is to talk to them. Ask their opinion. Discuss politics. Talk about doctrines. Ask the about their day. Get to know your kids.
Also, give them opportunities to spend time with people of all ages. Find older folks who would love to have a conversation with your kids and get them together.
And don’t forget – meaningful conversations are important but so is the ability to engage in small talk.
Ask Insightful Questions to Get to Know Someone
Getting to know someone isn’t always easy. Being able to ask questions when you meet someone to get to know them helps you find common ground.
Teach your kids insightful questions they can ask to get to know someone new and make new friends.
- Where are you from?
- How old are you?
- Who’s your favorite team?
- What’s your favorite subject in school?
Explain to them that when they find common ground they can talk about that subject a little more. Also, make sure your child knows that conversations require two people to be engaged.
If someone asks them a questions, encourage your child to engage in the conversation rather than simply answering the question and stopping there.
Socialize Without Technology
If you’ve ever been out to eat with a group of teens you’ve probably noticed how much of the time is spent with everyone on their phones instead of socializing and talking.
In our house, mealtimes mean no phones. We talk. Family times – like when we play board games or go for a walk – also screen free times. Think about times during the day or events or social settings you would like for your kids to avoid being on their phones and make some rules. It’s important for kids to put away their phones during times they should instead engage in meaningful conversations.
Wash Dishes Without a Dishwasher
I went most of my married life without owning a dishwasher. Owning a dishwasher is grand. I highly recommend it if possible. But knowing how to properly hand wash dishes is very important.
There is a proper order to washing the dishes and a proper way to wash.
You can read more about how to hand wash dishes and teach your kids step by step here.
Actions Steps to Take Today
- Print the Old Fashioned Life Skills for Kids Checklist below.
- Pray and ask God to help you teach your children the important life skills they need to know.
- Decide which skills to work on first.
- Slowly begin working on checking off the list!
Free Printable Old Fashioned Life Skills Kids Need to Know Checklist
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