High School: 10 Things Your Kids Can and Should Do

It will make your life easier!


The high school years go by too fast. As I anticipate sending my oldest child off to college in the fall, I worry that I haven’t taught her everything she needs to know. Have I done everything I should have to prepare her? While I’m sure there are things I have overlooked, I do take some small comfort in what we did cover.

Early on in high school, my husband and I took stock of what we wanted her to know and be able to do by the time she was heading off on her own. Building on what she had already learned in grade school and middle school, we created a list of life skills necessary to live on one’s own.

Here’s what our list looked like:

  1. Plan a menu for a week’s worth of meals: How to make balanced, healthy meals, as well as thinking about overall cost and variety
  2. Grocery shop: Including budgeting, label reading and cost comparisons
  3. Table etiquette: This includes basic manners as well as knowledge of more formal dining practices. I want my children to know which fork to use as well as how to set a formal table.
  4. Household management: Know what needs to be done to run a household efficiently and how to do those tasks
  5. Read a bus or train schedule and be able to use public transportation: This happens early in high school as our children want to get around on their own
  6. Basic car maintenance: This category might include how to pump gas, change the oil, replace lights and wiper blades, and for the more adventurous, how to replace brake pads (Editor’s note: If your teen isn’t going to learn these things—as a mechanical doofus, I feel qualified to comment on this—then he or she at least needs to know when to go to a service station and basic car maintenance milestones.)
  7. Maintain a checkbook: How to write a check, how to balance a checkbook and reconcile a statement
  8. Responsible credit card use: Know how to reconcile statements, understand compound interest, and find the best credit card deals… not to mention the practice of delayed gratification
  9. Responsible for discretionary spending: This includes electronics, extra or special clothes, and their own phone minutes
  10. Ability to find information: Know how to do effective internet searches, send inquiry emails, and phone potential information sources to get answers to their questions

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