10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know

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There are {at least} 10 home ec skills kids need to know to be prepared for life on their own. Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything they’ll need to know in the future, but these are the basics. 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.

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 keep 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.

I’ll tell you right now that this article is as much for me as it is for you. There are many things on this list that I have neglected and need to focus on during my kids’ last few years at home. So this is for all of us.

10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know

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.

2. Nutrition

Along with cooking comes the idea of teaching kids proper nutrition. Mac-and-cheese does not a balanced supper make. It’s easy to casually discuss proper nutrition while you’re teaching your kids to cook.

We’ve also used Nutrition 101, and the nutrition course from Standard Deviants Accelerate for a more structured approach to learning nutrition basics.

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.

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.

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 has completed or will complete Dave Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance before graduating.

6. Laundry

Laundry is one area in which I have done a pretty good job of teaching my kids. Megan typically does all of her laundry, and Brianna does most of hers. I’ve always told them that I don’t mind washing their clothes if I’m doing laundry anyway, as long as their stuff is in the hamper. Josh has taken full advantage of that, so I may need to do a crash course with him.

7. Housekeeping

Housekeeping is another area 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 just call this “life skills,” but it’s essential that kids know how to vacuum, dust, wash dishes, and scrub toilets. My kids know the difference between spot-cleaning and deep-cleaning a bathroom. They understand what baseboards are and how to scrub them.

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.

8. Basic Home Maintenance

For me, this 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. It also includes simple household repairs.

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. These are skills Brian has tried to share with our kids.

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.

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.

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

NOTE: This article was written by Kris Bales–the previous owner of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. 

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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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