81 Essential Life Skills to Teach Kids at Every Age

For many parents, life has slowed down a lot — we are at home with our kids all day, every day.

We have nowhere to go, nothing on our calendars, and all the time in the world right now. Why not use some of that time to help your kids master some important skills? If you’re like most parents, you probably have a mental list of things that you keep meaning to teach your kids. Now, with this forced slowdown, we finally have the time to introduce our kids to those important skills that will help make them independent, functional people in this world.

Here is a list of 81 essential life skills your kids can start practicing today!

Toddlers & Preschoolers

  1. Recite their first, middle and last name.
  2. Put their dirty clothes in the hamper.
  3. Feed and water the family pet with supervision.
  4. Pull up and down their own pants.
  5. Potty on the toilet – some tips here.
  6. Put on their shoes or boots.
  7. Put on and take off their jacket.
  8. Zip or button their clothes with some help – great tips for teaching that here.
  9. Fold a blanket.
  10. Throw away their trash after a snack.
  11. Help clean up their toys.
  12. Wash their hands properly for 20 seconds — especially important right now! Here are some tips.
  13. Brush and floss their teeth with lots of help and supervision.
  14. Sort the dirty laundry by colors.
  15. Put away clean utensils in their proper places.
  16. Butter bread.
  17. Help with cooking – here are some great tips for doing that.
  18. Wipe up spills with a cloth.

Photo courtesy of www.cdc.gov.

Early Elementary

  1. Learn their address.
  2. Memorize mom and dad’s phone number.
  3. Learn how to make an emergency phone call.
  4. Take out the trash.
  5. Dust the furniture.
  6. Clean the windows.
  7. Water the plants.
  8. Put the wet, clean clothes in the dryer.
  9. Brush their hair.
  10. Pick out a coordinating outfit.
  11. Change a toilet paper roll.
  12. Change a paper towel roll.
  13. Insert batteries into a flashlight.
  14. Open the house door with a key.
  15. Wash vegetables and fruit.
  16. Set the table.
  17. Pour their own glass of milk or juice into a cup.
  18. Sort and ball the socks from the clean laundry.
  19. Help make a grocery list.
  20. Tie their shoes.
  21. Get the mail.
  22. Ride a bike without training wheels – a great technique to try here.

Late Elementary

  1. Write thank-you notes.
  2. Brush and floss their teeth on their own – some brushing basics here.
  3. Make a sandwich or a simple snack.
  4. Make their bed.
  5. Fold towels and put them away.
  6. Vacuum the rug.
  7. Wrap a present.
  8. Wash the dishes by hand.
  9. Load and unload the dishwasher.
  10. Use the microwave.


  1. Read a map and follow directions without GPS.
  2. Address, stamp and mail a letter.
  3. Use a broom and dustpan properly.
  4. Haul the trash bins to the curb.
  5. Hammer a nail and hang a picture frame.
  6. Fold or hang clothes.
  7. Rake leaves and put them in bags.
  8. Pull weeds.
  9. Read nutrition labels and make good food choices – some tips for doing that here.
  10. Know the purpose of the appliances and tools in the kitchen and how to use them.
  11. Feed and water the family pet independently.
  12. Change their sheets and bedding.
  13. Operate the washing machine and dryer, and know how much detergent to use.
  14. Fold clothes and put them away.


  1. Sort, wash, dry, fold/hang and put away laundry.
  2. Iron out or steam a wrinkled shirt and pants.
  3. Prepare a simple dinner.
  4. Clean the kitchen after making dinner.
  5. Plunge a clogged toilet.
  6. Diagnose simple illnesses, take their own temperature and learn proper medicine doses.
  7. Make a budget and save money – some ideas here.
  8. Learn what credit is and how to use it wisely – some good tips here.
  9. Mow the lawn.
  10. Do simple car maintenance tasks, like check the oil.
  11. Work a fire extinguisher.
  12. Pump gas.
  13. Memorize their social security number.
  14. Pack a suitcase and determine what kind and how many clothes they might need for a trip.
  15. Change a light bulb.
  16. Locate and use the water shutoff valve.
  17. Unclog a drain.

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