Kids are natural born learners. They observe, then they give it a try themselves. That’s how they learn complex languages as an infant, that is how they learn most everything. It’s simple, natural and happens organically. The child observes the parent, then they copy the parent. It’s the same with life skills, children will naturally learn how to cook, clean, make wise choices and have healthy habits if that is what they are observing around them.
I remember learning about small children using machetes with great skill, because that was what their parents used to cut down the coconuts. This is a big cultural difference, here we get upset if our child goes up the slide when they “should be” going down. I felt comfortable with my children learning knife skills at a young age, I feel that a 5 year old can safely learn how to chop certain vegetables to help out with dinner. Until that time using an egg slicer to help cut up olives or we started earlier using a nylon knife set. Lettuce doesn’t require a knife at all, it can be ripped by any eager toddler.
By allowing our children, young and old to work along side us as we go about our daily lives provides them with valuable skills that will support them in their adult life. I child that has learned to use a knife with care as a small child, will often become quite skilled in the kitchen by the time they are young adults. It is such a great thing to have teenagers that are capable in the kitchen to help out with making healthy, delicious meals for the whole family.
I’ve mostly touched on the issue of working in the kitchen. However, this same ideas applies to other parts of our lives. Our small ones can help sort laundry, fold washcloths and towels, unload and sort the silverware from the dishwasher. By just being actively involved in activities around the house they can learn so many helpful skills. It’s also a great time to bond with your kids, sing songs together and learn about each other.
Life skills can also involve taking our children to fancy restaurants and exposing them to new foods and cultures. They’ll learn how to order for themselves, how to have good manners and how to eat real food. I don’t see the point in children’s menus filled with chicken nuggets and french fries at ethnic restaurants. Let them try new things and be excited about it, if that is what they are exposed to that is what they will enjoy.
What about teens? The same rules apply. By allowing them responsibility with money and cell phones. They will grow into responsible adults that tip well, that manage their time efficiently and know how to interact with others. How? By observing their parents and others around them do the same. This is also a reason I feel children should have friends of various ages. Let them have mentors and friends that are older that let them work along side them in the kitchen, out in the yard, on the job.
I’m a big believer in a child learns what they live. So what do you want your child to live?