5 Little Life Skills All Kids Should Know

by Lori Ferraro
Oleg Golovnev / EyeEm / Getty

I have two boys — one in elementary school and one in middle school — and let me just start by saying that as a mom, I’m nowhere near perfect. But I try. I try my best to teach them important things I think they should know.

Now these little things may seem pretty obvious, especially for anyone who grew up looking down at a Speak ‘n Spell rather than a tiny computer-phone or a tablet. But sometimes knowing the little things can help out — a lot.

How to Address an Envelope

The other day a 20-something guy happened to ask me, “Lori, how do I mail this?” I handed him an envelope to write the address on. His next question, “Where do I write the address?” I couldn’t figure out if he was joking with me or not, but, he wasn’t. I showed him where to write the address and asked him, “Did you ever write a letter? Or a thank you card?” As I walked away feeling extremely mom-like, I thought about how odd that seemed. Right? Parents, please teach your children how to address an envelope.

How to Answer/Talk on a Telephone

Growing up in the ‘80s, I spent the greater part of my teendom on the telephone. I am also one of those people who is holding out and never getting rid of her landline and I’ve come to realize that with texting and cell phones, a lot of kids don’t know how to use an actual telephone. I have also noticed that many kids don’t know what to say when they pick up a phone and dial a number.

When you answer a phone, you say “hello.” This is just what you do. Hello? Is it me you’re looking for? I’ll never know, unless you say “hello” back to me and ask to speak with my kid. Your kid gets bonus points if they can use a rotary dial “old-fashioned” phone.

How To Write A Grocery List And Make Themselves Food

Lori Ferraro

By age ten, your kids can totally make themselves a sandwich, a bowl of cereal, even bake you a batch of cookies or remind you that you are out of important things.

How To Sign Their Name

When today’s kids are adults and buy a house and go through the thousand-page document they need to sign, will they all just print their names in big blocky kid scrawl? No one is teaching my kids cursive/script; if yours are learning it in school, you’re lucky. Teach your kids how to sign their names, even if they don’t learn the entire alphabet. At least give them the knowledge to sign their names or risk the possibility that when they are older, signing legally-binding documents or something from the UPS guy, chances are good they may be teased.

How To Look Up

This one is easy. Put that phone down when you are crossing the street. Or at the mall. Or sitting at a table across from your friends. Teach them to look up and feel the sun. I mean, not to look directly at the sun, because they should have that life skill already and know not to do that.

Teach them to live in the moment and that not every moment should be documented. Technology is great, but so is conversation. And also, trees/sun/dogs/life are pretty good too.