Life Skills

Recently, I took stock of the “life skills” (also known as ‘self help skills’) that I have taught #1 so far.  Here are the things he knows how to do at the age of 11 :

1. ride a bike

2. swim

3. fry eggs

4. cook rice in a rice cooker

5. cook instant noodle

6. sew buttons

7. iron clothes

8. mop the floor

9. scrub the toilets

10. wash dishes

11. make his own breakfast

12. buy things, handle money

There are many other things that he does which I do not really consider as ‘skills’, e.g. make his bed, pick his younger brother up from school and keeping his things properly.

In general, I am quite satisfied with what he can do.  Minimally, he will not starve if he is alone at home.  He can even feed his brothers a few meals and take care of their basic needs.  Of course, these are not the only things I am going to teach him.  The next thing I have in mind is to teach him simple hemming and maybe cook a few simple dishes.

I didn’t start off with a list of things to teach him.  I kind of have some ideas what are the things I think are essential for him to know.  So as the opportunities arose, I taught him bit by bit.  As soon as he was tall enough to stand at the stove and mature enough to handle fire, I taught him how to fry egg.  This is important to him because he loves fried eggs!

I think teaching life skills is very important.  First of all, they are important skills for anyone to know.  Teach them as soon as possible instead of waiting until the kids are adults.  Secondly, you cannot imagine how their self-esteem will be boosted when they know how to do things for themselves!  #1 is so proud of himself that he knows how to do all these things.  The confidence and the independence is really priceless.  Thirdly, it helps to relieve some of my work load if the kids can do things for themselves!  Isn’t there a saying that the job of parents is to make ourselves redundant?  Kids have to reach a point where they don’t need us to do things for them anymore. Unfortunately, a lot of parents seem to have forgotten this part of their children’s education.  This is especially so in Singapore where a lot of families have a live-in maid.  It is easy to overlook this when there is someone doing everything for the kids and there is no compelling push factor for the parents to teach their children to be more independent.

Such skills are best taught in the setting of the home, in an everyday kind of setting.  I feel that it conveys the idea that ‘this is part of life and living’, and the kids know that everyone has to chip in to help in the family.  In this way, they become active participants.  Doing things together, or doing things for each other, helping each other, is an important source of family interaction. It makes a difference between ‘this is my family and my home’ vs ‘I only live here’.

The list above consists of life skills that I think a big boy like #1 should know.  The list will differ for kids of different age group, of course.  My 5 year old can bathe himself but I do not expect him to know how to scrub the bathroom!  To be able to drive a car is an important skill but I do not expect them to learn until they reach the legal age.  Apart from age, I think different people will have different lists of skills that they think are essential.

What skills do you think are important for your kids to know?


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