• Radhika

Basic Life Skills Every Kid Should Know by End of Elementary School

Updated: Oct 24, 2018

As a fellow parent, one of my pet peeves is the culture of over parenting that is so prevalent these days. I know, as loving moms and dads, we want to protect them, help them and cultivate them into perfect, happy humans, but did you know that this overindulgence can actually harm them? A study published by the American Psychological Association has shown that ‘Helicopter parenting can negatively affect children's emotional well-being, behavior’.

"We parents, we're doing too much," says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success." "We have the very best of intentions, but when we over-help, we deprive them of the chance to learn these really important things that it turns out they need to learn to be prepared to be out in the world of work, to get an apartment, to make their way through an unfamiliar town, to interact with adults who aren't motivated by love."

There’s no question that our kids are learning a ton at school. But, while those academic lessons are important, there are also some significant life skills that we want them to pick up along the way that probably aren’t on the syllabus at school and does not require parents assistance.

So if you are ready to stop helicopter parenting and want to prepare your child for a successful life ahead, read on to see our recommendations for basic skills that your elementary going child should know.

Make their beds

If you need one reason to teach your child the habit of making their beds, look no further than this fabulous motivational talk given by one of the most influential Admirals of our time, a talk that went viral on YouTube, If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed’.


I know, this is a tough one, which involves lots of bribing and cajoling your kids, but did you know that doing chores can actually setup your child on the road to success?, according to a Harvard longitudinal study. So start with age-appropriate chores charts to include them in making their own bed, help to empty dishwasher, take trash out, clean their room or dust. At our home, we have a weekly routine of dusting, cleaning, putting away laundry, emptying the dishwasher and occasional errands.


If you have kids, you have a lot of laundry. Teaching your children how to wash, fold (well that might come later) and put away their laundry is not only a life skill that will help them, it will also help you! We make folding fun at our home by having a 'laundry party', with kids folding and playing tag with clothes, after which they put them away.

Make a basic meal

While most days you are going to be preparing their meals, you want them to be able to feed themselves if necessary. Your meal preparations will be messier but it's time get them involved in the kitchen no matter what age they are and start making their favorite meals together. We’re not talking about a five-course dinner, of course, but you can start to teach a kid how to fix a sandwich or make an omelette.

Chores List by Age
Chores list by Age

Getting ready

Kids can learn how to get ready on their own at an early age. Let them pick out the clothes they'll wear the next day before they go to bed. Choose an alarm clock that's easy for them to set. Lay out their hairbrush and toothbrush. Use visuals to illustrate the whole process.

Follow sleep routine

There will be yelling/nagging but once your child enters elementary school, you should have a daily bed routine that each child must follow to teach them responsibility, personal hygiene and consistency. Explain why hygiene and daily routine is always going to be crucial parts of their daily lives.

Manage money

I want it! I want it! I want it! How many times have you heard this when your kids spot a candy, a toy, or just anything else you can think of that kids think they’ve got to have right now? The next time you’re standing in the store caught between your child demanding for you to fork over your cash and hefty price tag, start taking the time and teach your child about money. Show them how much the item costs and what it will take for them to earn it.

Pack their own school bags

We always put their stuff in the backpacks or remind them not to forget their homework. At some point we need to stop doing it for them and remind them to pack their own backpack (trust me, it will be a daily reminder) but one day that backpack will turn into a briefcase for the workplace. Trust me, they will thank us later. :)

Stand up for yourself

While it may be tempting at times and occasionally necessary for parents to speak up and advocate for their kids, this should be the exception, not the rule. Instead, embrace opportunities for kids to take the lead, and stand-up for themselves. These moments will help build kids confidence and set them up for greater success as adults. Parents should always listen their kids with any situation they are going through and offer advice if it’s asked for.

Caring for the family pet

Pets can be great companions for children and teach them responsibility - for example, first- and fourth-graders take turns filling the cat food and water dishes each day, while their older siblings clean the cat litter boxes.


Remember, it's not how well they master the actual tasks; the act of learning these skills aso has far-reaching benefits. Real life is scary and overwhelming at times. It doesn’t come with a handbook (although if it did, that book would be a a guaranteed best-seller). As parents, we have the responsibility to prepare our children as best as we can before they leave our homes, take on the world and in this case, finish elementary school.

And, it's never too early to start!

We would love to hear from you! Tell us what other recommended life skills your child needs to learn before they grow up?

As always, Unleash Your Kids Interests!

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