Life Lessons: Quick Hacks for Teaching Basic Skills to Your Kids

Often, we teach our kids how to do stuff using the methods our parents taught us – but that was all before the Internet!

Kids these days! They are riding balance bikes by the time they are three, reading by four, and mountain climbing and coding by the time they are 10. One of the reasons is that we now have the Internet – this brilliant source of information at our fingertips so we can compare our learning methods to everyone else’s around the globe.

So we’ve collected some of the World Wide Web’s best tricks in teaching kids how to do basic things. And don’t feel like you have to choose one over the other; after all, experimenting is part of parenting!

Tying shoes

  • Start big. Use a rope so that the technique is really obvious and your little learner doesn’t have to also grapple with pincher fingers at first.
  • Explore different kinds of knots first. Find one your child likes. Here’s a good example of options: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXmn4eloJmo.
  • Make a game out of it. Tying shoes can be like a magic trick; are your kids up to the challenge?

Putting away belongings

  • Build habits. Think geographically for a second and show your kids how to enter and exit each place with their belongings in mind. Examples: the house, the car, school, and play dates.
  • Make music. Sing a cleanup song with a silly voice that talks about putting stuff away.
  • Make it a race. Set a timer and see how fast they can put it all away. Show them you are proud when they are finished.

Tooth brushing

  • Go for the goofy stuff. Yes, it can make a difference to have their favorite character on the toothbrush, and get the kid-friendly toothpaste too.
  • Play up the Tooth Fairy. Explain that the Tooth Fairy only leaves presents in exchange for healthy teeth, so better start now!
  • Play mirror. Grab your toothbrush, and use the opposite hand so it looks like both of you are mirroring each other, and show your kids how to make small circles and go over each area.

Beginning swimming

  • Start with water play. Get children comfortable with being in the water from the very beginning. Use bath time, sprinklers, and kiddie pools first.
  • Get the face wet. This is the precursor to going underwater, so just work on helping then adjust to the sensation. A mister spray bottle in the summer time is a good prop.
  • Hold your breath! You can do this without even being in the water. On a car ride or walk, ask kids to hold their breath to a count of three.
  • Blowing bubbles. This is another easy way to get them ready for swimming, and it cracks kids up!

Traffic

  • Stop, look, and listen. Encourage kids to use their senses, as well as their common sense.
  • Read the signs. Start pointing out signs and what they mean. Show them how there are different places for pedestrians, trains, bikes, people, and cars.
  • Make street games. Playing with toy cars is an excellent opportunity to illustrate street rules. Construct little towns out of blocks and show how cars take turns and share the road.

Money

  • Push buttons. A calculator is hours of fun for kids, and the ATM is so exciting: you push buttons, and money comes out!
  • Coin game. While waiting at, say, the dentist office, take out some change and start with naming each coin. As they get older, incorporate counting by groups, adding, and subtracting; in fact, there are no end of variations you can throw in to make it interesting.
  • Allowance and budget. We have a series of blogs on kids and money, and the experts agree that starting early and letting kids work out value for themselves is a great place to start.

You likely already use some of these little practices to illustrate life skills, some of them more deliberate than others. Keeping it fun allows all of these necessary habits to become a bonding moment for you and your child, and provide all-important building blocks of learning and growing.  

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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