10 Skills Every Child Should Possess Before Leaving Home

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As homeschooling families, we make sure we cover reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic, but we all – whether we homeschool or not – need to make sure our kids are equipped with some basic life skills before they leave home.  (Some of these are based on my own inexperience, others are those I’m really glad I knew.)

1. How to Plan a Balanced  Menu.  Planning a menu – especially a healthy, balanced one – not only ensures good health and nutrition, but it also saves money and unnecessary repeat trips to the grocery store.

2.  How to Cook a Healthy Meal.  Knowing how to shop for the food doesn’t do much good if you don’t know how to cook it.  It’s also important to keep in mind that presentation matters, so practice cooking attractive, tasty meals not only gives Mom a break in the kitchen, but prepares kids to care for their own future families.

3.  How to Sort and Wash Laundry.  Girls and boys, Moms.  Your future daughters-in-law will love you.

4.  Balancing a Checkbook.  Boring?  Yes.  Tedious?  Absolutely.  Necessary?  Unfortunately.

5.  Balancing a budget.  Yeah, I wish I’d had a little more experience with this one.  I wish I’d known, much earlier in my marriage, that balancing a budget is much more than comparing this week’s paycheck to this week’s bills.  A good budget allows for cushion and savings.

6.  Filing Taxes.  Granted, this is much easier than it used to be with all the tax preparation software that’s available now, but it’s still good to make sure kids understand the basics.

7.  How to Fill out a Job Application/Write a Resume.  Most kids will probably fill out a job application long before they leave home, but many may not know the basics of writing a professional-looking resume, which will probably mean more than a basic job application once they’re in the “real job” workforce.

8.  How to Change a Flat Tire.  Confession time:  I have never done this. 

9.  Basic Household Repairs.  One of the smartest (and most appreciated by their future daughter-in-law) things my in-laws ever did was get my husband a job with an appliance repairman when he was a teenager (Brian, not the appliance repairman).  The job was more like an apprenticeship and it taught Brian how to repair things like refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers.  Our dryer is nearly 20 years old and would have been replaced about 8 years ago if it weren’t for Brian knowing some simple repairs.

10.  How to Love God and Their Family.  Okay, so maybe it’s not a skill, but your children’s relationship with God and their future families will, in large part, be influenced by what was modeled at home.  Make sure you like what you see in the mirror each day because it will be reflected in your children.

What would you add to this list?

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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 like your list, and I think it covers what I want my kids to know before they move out. My kids already know, for example, that nobody graduates from my homeschool without a full credit and a high grade in Consumer Math.

  2. This is a great list! I'd just add along with the laundry that everyone should know how to iron. We don't have to iron very often, but there are times when it's absolutely necessary. Kids should know how to do it before they go off for their first job interview!

  3. H that us a great list. The part about the job with the appliance repair man is brilliant! Your in laws were really thinking. I am going to keep this in mind.

  4. Excellent list! I always like to pull this card when people argue that public school is the "real world." When I was in college I went on a ski trip with a bunch of friends and we cooked all of our meals in house. I ended up feeling like a house mother because I realized I was the only one who had been homeschooled and knew how to plan a menu for the weekend, shop appropriately, cook what had been planned for, and do laundry. So much for that "real world" education.

  5. Very nice list. I would Also add how to live with others being flexible adaptable…My freshman year in college we had a roommate that was self-centered and had no Idea how to be aware of others needs. She would turn lights on,play music, talk on the phone in the middle of the night when we were sleeping because in her family that was acceptable.(I guess)

  6. You covered everything that my mom and dad helped me to learn and I'm working on these with my kids too. Great list. Although I wish they had taught me how to drive a stick shift. I'm learning now.

  7. Oooh! Wow, great list and OH SO TRUE. I would have been a better woman if I'd known how to do all of this before leaving the home.

  8. I really like your list. I think I would add knowing how to find help if you need it. For example, what do you do if the roof is leaking and you don't feel comfortable attempting to repair it? How do you go about finding a good pediatrician? I think knowing how to find the services that are needed is an important skill.


  9. I am very tempted to say that of all the things my husband knows, I wish he would have learned better…erm…aim in the bathroom. This is what I think of when I am talking to my son in the bathroom – of some nameless, faceless, future daughter-in-law appreciating the work I'm doing there.

  10. That seems like a tall list, but, looking back, I think my parents did teach me most of those before I left the house. My sister teaches her (6) kids to do their own laundry around age 8, I think. I still don't know how to change a flat tire, but I do have AAA.

  11. i love this, Kris. great list that should be printed in every pregnancy book out there! it seems simple when it's listed like this, doesn't it? i mean we do have (usually) 18 years. maybe the only thing i'd add is "How To Brew Coffee." (for their mama of course) 🙂

  12. I'd only add… clean/organize! I wish I was better at keeping staying organized and keeping everywhere tidy:)

  13. Fabulous list! I definitely have plans to work on all of these kinds of things with my kids because I hardly knew how to do any of them. Except, oddly, my parents had me do my own taxes from the time I started working. Couldn't make a meal, but I could fill out a 1040EZ. LOL

  14. The one thing I am forever grateful to my mother-in-law for is my husband's ability and motivation to clean the house, quickly and thoroughly. He makes a much better housewife than I do in that regard. 😉

  15. This is a great list. I'm always trying to think of things like this to help prepare my children — especially having a step-daughter who is only fifteen years younger than I am, at ten years old, and who is growing up so quickly it can sometimes be intimidating! I remember my brother telling me once that he really wished our parents had explained the importance to credit to him when he was younger. Getting your credit off to a bad start is entirely too easy these days, and it can so bad so quickly that it becomes very hard to recover from.

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