Life Skills and Independence!

In this period of 'isolation', we feel there are many things that children could (should!) be taught to do, if they do not already know and assuming everyone is healthy enough to do so!

Some of these are age related, for example:

- All children should be toilet trained;

- Children should be able to tie their shoe laces as soon as possible;

- All children should be taught basic independent skills (tidying their bedrooms, helping around the house, emptying bins).

We know from experience at school that they are all brilliant, but that some are fantastically independent and helpful and others need to develop their skills in this area....!

The following are some suggestions for parents to teach their children - with safety to be considered where appropriate and the actual judgements as to whether each child is ready for such responsibility down to parents. If you don't try...

Doing the Laundry:

Many children have no clue how to clean their clothes. Don’t let your child become one of them! You can begin teaching your child when they are around 6 (at the earliest). Walk them through the process—how to measure and add the detergent (or equivalent), where to put it, how to choose the settings, check the door is closed (vital!) and start the machine.

Preparing a Simple Meal:

Invite your child to help make meals, assign them jobs to do, and stay calm when the flour spills and the eggshells fly. Yogurt with fruit is a good first DIY breakfast. EYFS children can spoon yogurt into a bowl and add cut-up fruit.

Children aged 5 and older can make sandwiches and smoothies (monitor the blender closely).

Around age 7 or 8, children could try toaster-oven dishes like English-muffin pizza, or make a simple salad by ripping lettuce, dumping in other salad bits (cucumber squares, carrot cubes), and cutting up tomatoes and other items. When we say 'other' items, please teach them how to use a knife (that isn't too sharp) safely...

By age 10 and upwards, children can use the grill (with supervision) for a grilled-cheese sandwich. They may also be sensible and competent enough to use the hobs and oven - individual decisions for parents to take.

Focus on safety and practice, and you might just have a MasterChef Junior on your hands! School reserves the right to a future commission if any children gain Michelin stars at any point in the future.

Cleaning the Bathroom:

Keep cloths or a sponge handy for wiping toothpaste blobs off the sink. Toilet duties require greater skill and care - School-age children can clean the lid, seat, and base with a disinfecting wipe. Make sure they wash their hands thoroughly afterwards, using soap and water.

Older children can scrub the bowl with a non-toxic cleaner or sprinkle the sides with baking soda, let it sit for a few minutes, pour in some vinegar, then scrub with a toilet brush. Again, please make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after doing any of this.

If gloves are available for children to use when doing any of these jobs, then we'd recommend they do!

Comparison Shopping:

This one is a brilliant one and could save us all a lot of money!

Teaching children to be smart consumers takes practice. This three-step approach is a sensible way to approach this:

Explain as you go: Mention prices out loud and talk about your choices: “I’m getting petrol at the other station because it costs 10 pence less per litre.”

Let your kid pay sometimes: Give them an allowance, and then designate items they are responsible for purchasing;

Play the grocery game: At the supermarket (or - even better at this time - using online shopping - challenge them to find the least expensive brand of Beefburgers or tomato sauce;

Teach them to compare: Give your child/children a list of 5-20 items that all online supermarkets will stock. Ask them to research prices and see where is cheapest to shop - them by offering them the savings as pocket money! Remember to make sure they consider any delivery or collection costs, especially if they use more than one provider!

Managing money & basic budgeting:

This is quite a basic one among life skills. Give your children a certain amount of pocket money every week or every two weeks that they have to use for their' expenses'. If they wish to buy something a little more expensive, ask them to save up their pocket money to buy it.

For those not aware, this is a superb inventive for children, and way of teaching money management and basic budgeting:

Importance of environmental preservation:

Instilling the importance of environment and sustainability at an early age will teach your child to be more loving towards the planet. School has been working a lot on this, at appropriate levels, and the children already take a lot of responsibility for helping school run in as environmentally sustainable way as possible - which is far from easy!

Teach your children why preserving the environment is essential by making small lifestyle changes at home. Get them to practise eco-friendly habits in everything they do.

You can also make them do environmental activities such as gardening and collecting waste to throw in a bin. If you have a yard, give them a portion of the yard to plant whatever they like in. Help them sow seeds and make it their responsibility to water the plants. If you don’t have a yard, you can always use plant pots! If they do plant anything, make sure they take responsibility for watering it and / or looking after it and maybe even set them the challenge of recording how tall it grows each week, and keeping this in a chart or recording it on a graph?