Life skills have recently been lost in exchange for iPads, computers and social media. In a culture that is always on the go and never has enough time being able to do simple life skills is advantageous. Providing your children with these abilities will allow them the independence of doing things on their own. In addition they will have the life skills that overtime will save them money because they will not have to hire others to do them. By empowering your children with this knowledge creates memories and traditions that will likely be based down through generations. Most importantly your children will express pride and a sense of accomplishment that they are able to do things and create things on their own.
Helping out in the kitchen can be modified to get a child of any age involved. This is an amazing opportunity to educate your family on the important of consuming a healthy diet. Get things started in the grocery store by allowing your kids to choose what fruit/vegetable/protein source they wish for the meal. Having them involved in this step also makes them more likely to actually eat it. Don’t worry too much if you have a unique looking fruit in your cart youtube is a great resource for explaining how to cut pretty much anything.
As they grow, they should learn how to follow a basic recipe. You can easily create your own ingredient and instructions and add photos to each step to make it easier. Here is an opportunity to learn about steps, numbers, fractions and much more. Lastly, kitchen safety should also be discussed. Talk about how to safely use kitchen equipment and what you would do if there was a fire.
Just messing in mother nature, going barefoot and breathing in fresh air are habits we need to start teaching our children. Children spend so much time in door these days that they are forgetting how to play, discover and be bored. We are surrounded by free, healthy foods in our forests and possibly backyards etc the art of wildcrafting botanicals has been lost. Why not learn as a family how to take advantage of the wild edibles.
Some of the wild foods around Ontario are:
- Wild leeks, Fiddleheads, Dandelion, Wild Asparagus, Wild Ginger, Wild Mint
- Fruits; Crab Apples, Blackberries, Mulberries, Raspberries, Elderberries
Mushrooms: seek professional guidance as some safe varieties are easily confused with the similarly appearing poisonous species.
- Medicinals: Plantain leaf, Nettles, Joe Pye Weed, Burdock
Check out your local library or an online resource to help source out the plants. Involve the entire family in seasonal harvesting for items that can be found in your area. Always be safe rather then sorry and never eat anything you cannot properly identify.
Gardening life skills show how caring for something living and watching it grow from seeds can be rewarding for children. This is an opportunity to provide your family with local and the most freshest food possible. It also exposes your family to important soil microbes that are found locally in your unique environment. Plants that will easily start from seed indoors include; peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots.
As kids grow they can take on more responsibilities such as watering, compost, pulling weeds, raking and using the lawn mower. The more your children grow the more you can pass along information such as natural pest control, fertilizing, watering times, seed starting, plant protection, and harvesting times.
4) Preserving & Fermenting:
Even young kids can help prepare food for storage. Allow children to help wash, cut and learn about the importance of sterilization techniques in preserving foods. Educate them about the various ways to preserve foods such as drying, canning, and freezing. Teach kids about reducing waste by freezing unconsumed foods before they go bad. Not only does the open the conversation about sustainable living but it also teaches them about being kind to the environment. By preserving foods, which are now in over abundance, you teach your children to rely less on our precious environmental resources.
The research supporting the health benefits of consuming fermented foods is becoming larger. Kombucha, Kefir, Sauerkraut and Ginger Bugs are all fun home projects that kids enjoy that have added health benefits. Take a class in your community or research reputable online resources to learn these skills if you don’t know them or ask friends to show you.
5) Sewing & Carpentry:
Everyone should know the basic 101 of sewing. I cannot believe the number of items that are 50% off just because they are missing a button. All kids should know how to thread a needle, sew on a button, mend a tear and use a sewing machine. Knowing how to shorten clothing items can save time and money. Learning these life skills may open a window of opportunity for children who take a special interest in it.
Next time you are setting up any type of furniture get the kids involved. Call the tools by their proper names and model how to use them. Verbally explain what you are doing and why. As they grow, provide them with building materials and tools and give them the task of building something.
6) Sustainable Living:
In a materialistic, economically unstable world one of the more important live lessons is how to live creatively on less money. There are so many free community activities out there that kids should be encouraged to take advantage of. Model to your children how to value what you have and take care of your items to ensure the last. Focus on purchasing quality over quantity. Purchase used when appropriate, fix things yourself, live within your means, budget and practice sustainable energy and environment conservation (recycle/compost, use a clothes line, carpool or bike on short errands).
7) Housekeeping & Chores:
Kids need to understand how to clean and care for themselves. Knowing these skills will set them up for success in the future. Children are often capable of more then we give them credit for and should be allowed to learn through mistakes.
These are skills children can easily learn;
- Dishes (by hand + dishwasher)
- Cleaning Windows
- Create your own cleaning products using basic vinegar & baking soda
- Cleaning surfaces; table, sinks, mirrors etc.
8) First Aid:
Kids should be equipt with the basic skills of caring for wounds, and treating common ailments with natural remedies. Young kids can learn the important of cleaning a wound and learn the acronym R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compress & elevate). Teach your kids about natural anti-microbals such as garlic, clove, elderberries, and honey. Herbal teas such as, ginger for nausea and chamomile for anxiety are natural and budget friendly.
If you have mastered foraging show your kids how to make a plantain poultice for bug bits and wounds. Other easy at home first aid includes proper hand washing, hydration and herbal baths (oatmeal for rashes, mustard for colds/flus, lavender to promote rest).
As they grow, empower them to take charge of their health, ask questions about the medical advice they are recieving and request second opinions. They should understand the concept of informed consent and know they are in control of their bodies.
9) Basic Automotive:
Everyone should learn the basics of how to maintain cars and machines. How to open the hood, check fluid levels, change windshield wipers and tires are all important basic skills. By getting to know machines children are able to discover and understanding of how things work. It is good to know how to troubleshoot and when/who to call when you need assistance. If this is an area you’d like some brushing up on check out Youtube as well as WikiHow.com for tutorials.
10) Relaxing & Nature:
In a world where “busyness” is valued more than presence, children are loosing the ability to relax and unplug. Children need to be bored as boredom fosters creativity and complex thought. Children should be encouraged to fantasize, day dream and sit with their thoughts and emotions. I relax with my children because it makes them feel calm and it gives them my undivided attention.
In order for children to grow they need input and feedback from their environments. We are doing them a disservice but not allowing them to experience the natural beauty of our world. When children are encouraged to relax in a natural setting they are more in and aware of their environment.