Teaching Life Skills to Promote Independence During COVID-19
During this pandemic we’ve been given an opportunity to teach our kids more than just what can be found in textbooks.
Can your twelve-year-old wash his own clothes and cook a meal for the family? Can your five-year-old brush her teeth well, fix her hair for the day, and truly clean her face without help? If not, take the opportunity to start working on life skills with your kids.
Parents have a lot to do, so teaching your kids independence skills not only prepares them for life, but if frees up some of your time and reduces your stress level. It’s a win-win. It does, however, require effort and a lot of trial and error, but it will be well worth the inconvenience.
National research following over nine thousand children from kindergarten to third grade found a multitude of positive results about teaching life skills by way of household chores. Some of their findings are as follows:
✽ The frequency of chores in kindergarten was positively associated with a child’s perception of social, academic, and life satisfaction competencies in the third grade.
✽ When compared with children who regularly performed chores, children who rarely performed chores had greater odds of scoring in the bottom twenty percent on self-reported prosocial, academic ability, peer relationship, and life satisfaction scores.
✽ Performing chores with any frequency in kindergarten was associated with improved math scores in the third grade.
✽ Performing chores in early elementary school was associated with later development of self-competence, prosocial behavior, and self-efficacy.
If you aren’t sure which skills your kids should have at which age, check out Family Education.com’s age-by-age guide to life skills at www.familyeducation.com/life/individuality/guide-to-teach-your-child-life-skills-by-age.
Here are some ideas on skills to teach while you’re spending a lot of time at home during the coronavirus.
Laundry, cooking, and yard work are all appropriate age-level skills for children ten and above, according to FamilyEducation.com. (After all, if kids can operate a game controller with agility, they can certainly operate a washing machine.) If you haven’t taught these skills, start with small tasks, such as sorting laundry or chopping vegetables, and encourage your children to work their way up to full independence. It’s best to focus on teaching one skill at a time. For preschoolers, that might mean focusing on one skill for a month; of course, for older children, it would depend upon the skill and the age of the child.
Ask kids to make a schedule for their day. According to Scholastic.com, even preschoolers can benefit from a picture schedule to start learning time management, and grade-schoolers should be learning to plan long-term projects and set priorities. Teens should learn about balancing socializing (including time spent on social media) and time spent on education during the academic year and on SAT and/or ACT prepardness during the summer months so that they feel less stressed when school’s in session.
Giving kids projects to do can help them learn and take pride in their own independence. Let your child choose a project of which to take ownership. This can be a long-term project, such as planting a garden or redecorating their bedroom, or a short-term project, such as building a craft or small wood project, or hand-making a Halloween costume. Let them research, plan and execute the project, only providing input when absolutely necessary.
With all independence skills, it’s important to know that your child will not “get it right” the first time. There will be lots of wrinkled laundry and half-cooked chicken—and lots of patience required on your part. Yes it’s easier to just do it yourself, but they need to learn. Kids learn from failure. It’s your job to remind them that you believe they can do it, and encourage them to learn a lesson from their failure and try again.
Also keep in mind that they might be more willing to take ownership of a task when you allow them to do it their own way. They might be perfectly happy to wear a wrinkled shirt, and you might have to be okay with that.
For more help teaching independence skills, follow HR Mom on Facebook. Melissa B. Griffin says her advice is “for parents who realize they have ONE JOB: to work themselves out of a job.” She offers ideas for teaching independence and leadership skills. In one post, she challenged her 15-year-old son to take on the task of replacing a broken headlight on the family car, including finding and purchasing the part, and using a YouTube video to learn how to complete the repair and finishing the job. #