Middle School Life Skills
There are moments in life when you watch your children and realize how fast they have grown. Before you know it they are walking and talking, you blink your eyes and suddenly, they are off to high school.
I have to admit; I was not ready for my firstborn to enter high school. Recently, planted in California, I was learning how to cope with a new state and new life. I look back and wonder how my oldest learned as much as he did. I also wonder if he excels at some life skills because I did not monitor his every move. Parenting is tough work.
Get Ready For High School!
This year we are sending another off to high school. I set goals last year to make sure he was capable of many life skills. He studied a few at school and some he has picked up on his own. Listed below are the 10 things I feel middle school children should know before high school.
These are mere suggestions and there are many more I would love to teach before high school, but time flies. I feel that lists are a wonderful way to reflect on what my son knows and what we need to work on while to hone life skills.
Each child is different, some will flourish at one life skill and some will struggle with others. Repetition will allow our children to master these skills and create a positive atmosphere as they work their way through high school.
It is never too late to work on middle school life skills! Start today!
10 Essential Middle School Life Skills
How To Do Laundry – Show your preteen how to do laundry. Give them the tools they need to maintain their clothes. Consider the following.
- Purchase one or two hampers just for their clothing. If purchasing one show them how to sort whites/lights from darks to keep colors from bleeding into the lighter colors.
- Show them the label on clothing and how to read if it needs to be dry cleaned or handled in a special way to maintain its shape and size, etc.
- Show them how to hang and fold clothes. Explain this can minimize wrinkles and help items to found easily.
- Show them how to press dress pants and shirts if needed.
- Give them a day on the weekly schedule to wash, dry, and put away laundry. Keeping a weekly ritual will create a habit for this essential life skill.
How To Purchase Their Own Clothing
Teaching your young teen how to read the label inside their clothing for laundry is a great time to teach about clothing sizes. This is a wonderful stepping stone to learn how to budget and find clothing that fits their body and what is appropriate for school, special occasions, Church, and free-time.
This is a big step for many young people. Consider starting with a budget for one outfit, discuss specific guidelines, and allow your pre-teen to keep the change if they meet criteria for clothing choices.
How To Earn, Manage, and Save Money
This can be a sensitive subject. Money is a hot spot in many relationships and if they have seen their parents have arguments over money, they might become frazzled when you bring up the subject. If this is the case, work on a family clothing budget, and then have your child work out a budget of their own with money they earn through chores and odd jobs. They should earn an allowance not expecting cash for all their whims and fancies. Part of this budget should base on saving, spending, helping those in need and/or tithing.
Money is a life skill that should be at the top of the totem pole by high school. The rising cost of education is a growing issue for our young people. They need to understand debt and how important it is to avoid it as they start their lives as adults.
How To Cook Simple Meals
I will never forget my son popping in the car after school jazzed to share he had made an omelet in home economics: life skills. This was huge news because he is the pickiest teen eater this side of the U.S.A. Learning to cook has opened his eyes and made him a little less picky and a little more motivated to try new things. We watch Hell’s Kitchen as a family and cheer for our teams! This has created the perfect playing field to teach basic cooking skills and create more opportunities to eat well.
Middle school children need to learn at least 10 simple meals to cook and clean-up on their own by age 14. This is the minimum. This can be as simple as scrambled eggs and toast or a simple but easy recipe like Grandma’s Sunday Gravy over pasta with a green salad and cheesy garlic bread. 10 simple meals will get them far and spark an interest in learning to enjoy cooking at home as part of their adult life. Not only can it be healthier but it can save great money as they start their lives away from the next. Big Plus! They can invite their parents over for dinner!
How To Clean and Maintain Their Rooms
This is another touchy subject. If you are the parent who keeps things super tidy in your bedroom and your teen is more of a “collector” and may not have your drive to keep things in order there can be a battle of wills for a “clean room”. However, the knowledge and tools to know how to clean and maintain a room should be taught. This could also mean you decide on what is acceptable and what is not in your teens’ room.
Example: We have ants in California. If our teen is drinking pop and eating cookies and does not rinse and put away the dishes, this can start an ant revolution! We maintain a family commitment to keep food eaten in the kitchen and a special family movie night in the den. This is hard to enforce sometimes because teens eat all the time.
The consequence is sleep in a room with ants. That is a big deterrent.
As parents, we have to choose what is acceptable for our home but keep in mind that our teens are growing into adults and their room is just that, their room. You need to have a conversation and not become a dictator during the discussion. Decide what you feel is acceptable, ask questions about what they visualize their room should look like, and decide as a team. Remember, these are suggestions, but keeping an open discussion relationship with your child is very important and takes precedence over how clean their room is that week.
How To Do Basic Household Chores
Keeping their room clean is a person-to-person discussion. Keep the house clean as a family is a different ball game. Each family member needs to take part in maintaining the home and this includes household chores. Your middle school child needs to know the basics of home management before high school. This includes things like cleaning bathrooms, lawn care, taking out the trash, and cleaning floors. Create a list and make sure each child complete their tasks. Working toward the common good of a tidy home teaches teamwork and is a basic life skill that all young adults need.
Basic First Aid
Middle School Children by now have had a few bumps and bruises, at the least. They should know how and when to dial emergency services. They will need a list of their doctors and any medical history needed in an emergency. Find a first aid class in your area or make a list of simple basic first aid steps and keep them taped inside the medicine cabinet. Your middle school child should know how to deal with minor cuts and burns, splinters, headaches, mild fevers, and coughs. They need to know how to contact you in emergencies and/or another adult caregiver.
Basic Manners and Speaking Skills
Speaking skills are a major point of growth for middle school life skills. Learning to speak to adults respectfully, and using phrases like “please” and “thank you” are a must. These are important stepping stones to learn for future job interviews and meeting people. Basic table manners and other general etiquette standards are also helpful. Example: Holding the door for someone or not using their cell phone during a meal.
Wake Themselves Up In The Morning
Sometimes the simplest idea is the most difficult to master. These days are kids don’t seem to get enough sleep. Waking up in the morning can be a real challenge to a tired and cranky pre-teen. Asking them to wake up themselves might frighten the first time teen parent. The task is difficult for kids who are deep sleepers. However, being late to school twice will get them moving quicker in the morning. Teach them to use a traditional alarm clock, that has a loud alarm, and place it across the room. This means they will have to get up to turn that annoying sound off. If your child is still having trouble waking up, make sure he is getting to bed at a reasonable hour and/or make appointments with his pediatrician/doctor to discuss his sleeping patterns.
How To Organize Their Schedule and Keep Up With Homework
This is the start of real-time management skill building. The landscape of homework transforms, teach our kids to keep track of assignments and due dates along with breaking down a larger project into manageable bites is a skill they will use their entire lives. Make sure your student is keeping track of homework and turning in those assignments. If they seem to have trouble take steps to ease activities until they have their school work straight.
Middle School Life Skills and Enjoying The Journey
As parents, we do our best to teach our children the skills they need to be successful in life. I have found that as I reflect on what I would love for my youngest son to know before he starts his Freshman year I realize that he has come so far! Our kids learn despite our mistakes. Watching their parents work through life fails and wins are part of their life-skill learning process. I leave you with one request, enjoy the journey. Take time outs as often as you can just to be parent and child. Life moves quickly, and their adult life is just around the corner.
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Looking for more teen ideas, try our Families with Teens Staycation article.