What’s One of the Most Important Things to Teach Your Children?

By: Martianne Stanger

As a long-time homeschooler, people often ask me what I think is one of the most important things to teach children.

Without question, a term I borrowed years ago from Montessori-style schooling is my answer: Practical LIfe Skills!

The one thing I am the most happy that I continue to teach my children is practical life skills, or the everyday activities that lead to an “I can do it” spirit in grace and courtesy, control and coordination of your body, care of yourself, and care for your environment.

When children are young, such skills can be – and in Montessori-inspired homes and schools – are taught using specific activities. However, you don’t have to use expressly Montessori-inspired practical life activities to meet with success. You can think about age-appropriate chores and tasks, and, then, teach them to your child using a me-we-you approach.

Basically, have your child, say, watch you make toast. Then, when you think your child is ready, make some toast together, have your child take charge of more and more of the steps necessary to get the bread, toast it, top it, plate it, and clean up the crumbs and plate once the toast is eaten. Finally, have your child do all the steps as you observe.

Do the same thing with everything from cooking eggs on a stove to sweeping the floor, to doing the laundry to grocery shopping to- you name it! – any skill you know how to do and can teach your child.

What about if you cannot teach a skill yourself? Say how to change a flat tire, perhaps? (That’s one I am admittedly not so hot at.) Then, consult someone who can and learn together!

Practical life skills are important for all ages – toddlers, tweens, teens, and even adults.

And, trust me on this, when you are sick, facing family crisis, or just trying to meet a work deadline, having kids that are adept at practical life skills can be a huge blessing!

I cannot tell you how many times through the years, I have been driven to distraction or bowled over by life’s unexpected turns, and I haven’t had to worry about the next meal or next tasks being attended to. For, my children can – and did – pitch in.

With knives, axes, and fire, to making treats, to learning how to use a solar oven and more, my kids rock their practical life skill, and I am glad!

Taking time up front to teach my children practical life skills, truly has provided so much fruit for all of us.

If your children are lacking in such skills, I encourage you to begin prioritizing them soon. You can find a hundred ideas or more online. Pick one and begin – me-we-you.


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