Elementary School: 10 Things Your Kids Can and Should Do

It will make your life easier!


A child’s education is very important to most parents. But it is easy to become too focused on academics and forget that there is another set of skills our children need to become functioning adults:  life skills. These would include anything from knowing how to create a pleasant living space to how to manage finances to how to prepare healthy food. Life skills are those everyday proficiencies which make our lives easier and more manageable.

In our family, we know that our children learn many things just from daily life, but with 9 children it is easy to overlook a skill (or a child!) if we are not purposeful about it. So we’ve developed a list of the skills we want to develop intentionally in each child. Each family is different and no two families will have the same priorities. Use our examples as ideas to spur your own thinking.

For us, life-skills training begins at a young age. We take the time to show the child how to do something, then supervise while he does it on his own, moving toward the ability to do the job independently. It is not a quick process!

Early Grade School

Early grade school skills focus on jobs around the home. We expect that by 3rd grade, our children will be competent, though not perfect, in the following skills:

  • Know how to use a vacuum and how to empty it or change the bag
  • Fold clothes properly and put them away
  • Empty a dishwasher
  • Do simple kitchen tasks—these might include:
  • Chopping vegetables
  • Cooking eggs
  • Making green salads
  • Be in charge of self-care—bathing, shampooing, brushing, nail trimming, etc.

Late Grade School

By age 11, a child’s abilities have grown considerably; they are ready for bigger challenges and are ready to start moving their skills out of the family home as well as taking on more responsibilities in the home. Our list for this age includes:

  • Know how to thoroughly clean a bathroom (using non-toxic cleaners!)
  • Be able to follow simple recipes unassisted
  • Answer the phone and write down accurate phone messages
  • Have the ability to greet people politely and make introductions
  • Begin to be responsible for personal finances by starting to earn money to pay for small purchases

What else can they and should they do? Here’s information on life skills for middle school kids and life skills for high school students.