10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know

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While there are many skills your kids need to know to be prepared for life on their own, these 10 home ec skills kids need to know are a great place to start. Make sure you’re teaching your teens and tweens these practical life skills so they’re ready to manage their homes when they leave the nest.

Also, at the end of this post is a Home Ec Skills Master List printable, with dozens of home ec and life skills in several main categories, so you (and your kids!) can keep track of the skills they’re building.

10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know

For many years, my guilty pleasure was reading historical romance novels. I loved books set in the days of lords and ladies, knights and castles. One of the weird little obscure things that always stood out to me was how the heroine, the new “lady of the manor,” would take over the household management as she had been trained. She would set to work directing the household servants, planning the dinner menu, and making sure things in the castle ran smoothly.

Even in the Little House books, Ma taught Laura and Mary from a young age how to do all the things that would go into managing their own homes someday. (And doing their share in the one in which they were currently living.)

Times have obviously changed. Most of our kids won’t have to worry about managing a house full of servants or baking bread on the hearth to go with the butter they just churned. However, most of them – male and female – will be responsible for managing their own homes someday. And we need to prepare them by teaching them practical home ec skills.

10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know

Home Ec Skill #1: Cooking Skills

Cooking may be the most notable of the essential home ec skills kids need to know. You don’t want your kids and grandkids subsisting on fast food and microwave meals, do you? Plus, I don’t think there’s a mom out there who would argue against a night off from cooking. We can have those if we teach our kids to cook!

I appreciate Jamie’s tips on how to teach your kids to cook over at Simple Homeschool. Her kids are younger than mine, but it’s easy to adapt the concept for multiple ages.

Some fun ways to teach your kids to cook include:

  • Let them cook alongside you – choose one kitchen helper for each meal you prepare at home.
  • Have a make-your-own pizza (or any other dish that’s easy to scale to individual servings) night and let everyone follow along with their personalized dishes.
  • Let your older kids watch cooking shows or videos and practice on their own – be available to answer questions or help as needed.

Home Ec Skill #2: Nutrition

Along with cooking comes the idea of teaching kids proper nutrition. Mac-and-cheese does not a balanced supper make. My mom always taught me to make a type of meat and sides – with at least one green and no more than one starch. 

There’s more to educating your kids about proper nutrition than meat and potatoes, though. And, it’s easy to casually discuss proper nutrition while you’re teaching your kids to cook. Apologia has a great nutrition curriculum you can use to teach nutrition!

Some other ideas for weaving nutrition education into your homeschool include:

  • Check for community cooking/wellness classes
  • Visit your local 4-H extension
  • Arrange to have a dietician speak to your homeschool group

Home Ec Skill #3: Menu Planning

Meal planning is a tried-and-true time-, sanity-, and money-saver for me. As such, it’s a simple concept that I want to pass on to my kids. I make a menu every week, keeping in mind what we have going on each night. That way, I know if I need to fix something quick and easy or do a crock pot meal for a busy night, or if I have time for something more elaborate, and I can shop accordingly.

It was also helpful during the “lean years” when we didn’t have the money to keep a fully stocked pantry of staples. With a menu, I could shop for only the ingredients I needed and make use of anything I might already have. Tell me that’s not going to be a useful tool for a fledgling adult paying all of his or her own bills for the first time.

Try these tips for teaching your kids meal-planning home ec skills:

  • Let each child plan a meal for one weeknight; let them figure out what you have on hand and what they need to purchase. Give them a budget and let them do the shopping.
  • Set up a meal plan calendar in the Google or iOS calendars app. Let each child plan a meal (breakfast, lunch, or supper) for the week and create a grocery list for their meal.

Home Ec Skill #4: Sewing

A seamstress I am not. However, it’s vital that all young adults – regardless of gender – have some basic sewing skills. I can’t hem a pair of pants to save my life (which is too bad considering how short I am). However, I can sew a button on a shirt or repair a hole before it gets worse.

Those are necessary sewing skills that all adults should possess, especially young people who may have some years of forced frugality ahead of them. My oldest learned to sew from another homeschooling mom who taught a small class, and she learned to knit from a friend whose mom had taught her. 

To help your kids learn basic sewing skills:

  • Check for classes at local fabric or sewing machine shops
  • Ask a homeschool mom who sews to teach a class (or be that mom!) 
  • Look for video tutorials online
  • Check with your local 4-H extension
  • Try this easy tote bag sewing project (There are also several plush craft tutorials, too, for younger kids or your teens who still love their plushies.)

Home Ec Skill #5: Money Management Skills


All young people need money management skills. I used to say that my kids needed to know at least how to balance a checkbook. With online banking and smartphone apps, I’m not sure how necessary that is anymore, but each of my kids completed Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance before graduating.

To teach your kids money management home ec skills:

  • Provide an allowance or let them earn money for household chores beyond what’s normally expected of them. Let them save for things they want to buy.
  • Try money management apps designed for families
  • Let them earn money by using their skills, such as making baked goods or other products to sell
10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know - girl washing dishes

Home Ec Skill #6: Laundry

All kids need to know how to do laundry and it’s a pretty simple life skill to teach. From the time my kids were in the 10-12-year age range, they handled their own laundry for the most part. 

The easiest way to teach kids how to do laundry is to make them responsible for their own. Give them each a laundry basket and a day of the week for doing their laundry. (This gets rid of the excuse: I was going to do my laundry but somebody else was doing theirs.)

We don’t sort clothes at our house anymore other than the handful of delicate fabrics we may have. (Which isn’t much because, usually, if it doesn’t say “machine wash and dry,” I don’t buy it!)

But I made sure each of the kids knew the essentials such as:

  • How and where to add detergent, bleach, and/or fabric softener, and how much to use
  • How to choose the correct settings for the washer and dryer
  • How to check and clean the lint filter before EVERY load

Home Ec Skill #7: Housekeeping

Housekeeping is another of the home ec skills in which I’ve done a pretty good job because I don’t have time to play maid for a family of 5 when they’re all perfectly capable of picking up after themselves.

We started with a daily chore chart when my kids were little and progressed from there. Now, we just call it “life skills” and each of them knows how to do things like vacuum, dust, wash dishes, and scrub toilets.

home ec skills

I’m not sure that means they’ll do any of that in their own homes, but one can hope. At least they know how.

A couple of ways to accomplish teaching these skills are:

  • Choose a cleaning helper for each task you do until they’re able to complete the task on their own
  • Teach skills based on age/ability then let your kids teach the next sibling in line when they’re ready to graduate jobs
  • Assign household chores based on cleaning zones or a rotating schedule each week

Home Ec Skill #8: Basic Home Maintenance

To me, basic home maintenance includes things such as a rudimentary knowledge of the plumbing and electrical workings of a home – like how to turn off the main water line or check the breaker box – and simple household repairs. You could also include basic auto maintenance here. These home ec skills are vital for boys and girls to learn.

One of the smartest things my in-laws ever did was help my husband get a job with an appliance repairman when he was an older teen. He can fix most of the major appliances in our home, along with small appliances and TVs. He’s pretty handy with electronic devices like laptops, too.

I can’t tell you how much money that’s saved us over the years, and he’s tried to share these skills with our kids.

Most things that fall under this category are those that you’ll show your kids a time or two.

Make a list of things you think are important or things you wish you’d known such as:

  • What to do if a sink or toilet is leaking
  • How to unclog a toilet or sink
  • What to check if the heat or air isn’t working
  • What to do if you trip a breaker
  • How to check the hot water heater

One particularly good resource for this topic is the YouTube channel, “Dad, How Do I?”

Home Ec Skill #9: Phone Etiquette

This skill may seem outdated, particularly in today’s world of email and texting, but it’s still worth teaching. I may or may not have had experience with kids calling my house and answering my hello with a hello of their own. The conversation goes something like this:

Me (answering the ringing phone – something I rarely even do anymore, but by way of example from back in the day): Hello?

Kid on the other end: Hello.

Me (after a pause while waiting for the kid to state his business): Hello?

Kid: Hello.

Me (possibly after a few rounds of “Hello? Hello.”): Did you wish to speak to someone?

Kid: Yeah. Can I talk to {name of one of my kids}?

It’s exasperating. 

On the other hand, there is one of Josh’s friends who always responds to my answering hello with, “Hi, this is {polite kid’s name}. May I please speak to Josh?”

I love that kid. I may have to answer Josh’s cell phone sometime just to enjoy the pleasantness of his phone etiquette again.

Something many young adults have trouble with along these lines is calling professionals – like, calling a doctor’s office to set up an appointment. I understand it can be intimidating because even as an adult, it’s not my favorite thing to do. 

To help your kids in this realm of home ec skills, try role-playing those situations. Then, let your teens start making their own appointments. 

Home Ec Skill #10: Table Etiquette {a.k.a. “Manners”}

Oh, y’all. I may need to work on this one since I currently have kids who see no problem with burping at the table and rating one another’s burps. Yes, I do have more girls than boys. Yes, the girls are just as bad.

At least they say, “Excuse me.” Sometimes I have to give them the stink-eye first.

Still, they do understand (and usually use) polite table manners, and they know how to set a basic table. Basic is all we need. We’re not fancy dinner party folks. And, if they marry into that, there’s always Google.

Let your kids practice their table manner skills by:

  • Taking turns setting the table
  • Having dinner together at the table most nights of the week
  • Passing dishes as you fill your plates and asking others to pass a dish for second helpings rather than reaching across the table
  • Use conversation starter cards to practice polite dinner conversation
  • Invite guests over every so often

Teaching these basic home ec skills will prepare your kids for managing their own homes in the future. Plus, teaching your children these skills now will also help you with your day-to-day chores! There’s no need for you to have to do it all, mama! It is a win/win for the family to teach these lessons, one home ec skill at a time!!

Download the Home Ec Skills Master List Printable

Are there any skills I didn’t include that you consider important home ec skills kids need to know? 

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. I agree with you 100%. I had never thought about meal planning as a separate category, but you are absolutely right! Children need to be taught home etiquette of all types. Some of my kids’ friends have not been taught not to just walk into someone’s home or grab whatever in their refrigerator. These manners are so important!

  2. Right along with balancing a checkbook – some businesses still require non-electronic payment (like utilities/rent/one-person-entrepreneurs). If you can’t walk payment to them, then it’ll be mailed in… so learning how to address an envelope or write a letter is a dying skill! It’s such a simple thing, but I’ve had to show more than one teenager how to do this!

  3. Stella is in kindergarten this year, and begged me to teach her to sew. For Christmas, she received a 14 stitch Brother, and we have been working with it weekly. I’m thinking she is going to surpass my measly sewing skills soon!

  4. Another important skill is car maintenance. Checking oil, tire pressure, and keeping the vehicle clean just like the house.

    1. Absolutely! For this post, I was just thinking of specific home-related skills. I would definitely include auto maintenance in a life skills or auto-related skills list.

  5. This really help me ,, its so important that a child must understand these things at a young age so that they will grow up doing good manners

  6. Very good article. Ditto to Elizabeth and Amanda (I’d like to add changing a tire). And, one more thing, a little first aid. Not a lot, just washing a wound, bandage or not, what to do with minor scrapes, cuts, bruises and sprains until help is available.
    All the skills you listed builds amazing confidence. It also gives a little comfort to the parent who finds it necessary to leave an older child to care for siblings.

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