Mopping is a life skill

Life Skills for Kids By Age – A Comprehensive Checklist

by Maria Aurelia “Chacha” Tumbokon

The life skills listed below are mostly practical skills that your child needs to learn to function in life, to be able to take care of himself, be independent, as well as be useful and contribute to his family and close relations’ well-being.

Learning life skills begins with mastering simple but important everyday life tasks while your child is 2 or 3 years old.  Your child then builds on them as he grows older and eventually becomes a full-functioning adult.  Many of these skills are not taught in school, and it is your responsibility, as a parent, to teach her these life skills.  She should learn early on that she doesn’t always have her parents or caregiver to clean up after her. Also, being able to clean and fix stuff not only enables your child to contribute to the running of your household, but it also enhances your child’s awareness of how easily things get broken and dirtied, and need to get fixed and cleaned.

You can use the checklist below as a to-do list on what to teach your child to master life skills that will be important to him – depending on his age level.  Note also that every child matures at a different pace, and life skills listed on one age group can be mastered by a child from an earlier age group. Also, your child can do most skills by himself, but some may require adult supervision.

See also Growth Mindset for Kids: What You Need to Know


Life skills for 2 – 3-year-old child

Wash hands – learning how to wash hands properly – wetting, soaping and rinsing in water for 20 seconds is an important skill to prevent your child from getting sick when he puts his hands in his mouth.  Your child should also know when to wash his hands, such as when arriving home from school or after playing in the dirt.

Pick clothes and begin to dress self – For a task done every day or almost every day, teach your child the step-by-step way of choosing clothes appropriate for the day, and how to put them on.

Use the potty – This may take a year for your child to perfect.  Once your child is aware of her body feelings and able to communicate when she needs to go to the potty, lead her to the location where she can go to poop, until she does it by herself

Wash face – This skill does not only enable your child to make herself look clean, but can start her to make a habit of caring for her skin.

Brush teeth – It’s important for your child to take care of her teeth throughout her life, and this should be taught to her early.  Teach your child to brush not only the front but all surfaces of the teeth.  If possible, teach her how to floss.

Pick up toys, clean up after playing – Having a mindset of being tidy can be a trait that your child can take into adulthood, that’s why it’s important to teach him to clean up after himself early.  You can also teach your child to sort, by size or type of toy.

Put dirty clothes in hamper – Another skill important to make your child appreciate cleanliness is being able to determine if his clothes need to be changed, and where to put it to be washed.

Dust using rag or duster – Teaching this skill to your child starts her off in her ability and inclination to keep her house and surroundings clean.  Teach your child how to clean a surface thoroughly and not just do this perfunctorily.

Pour from small pitcher – Helps your child learn to give herself water when she experiences thirst

Carry plate to sink after meal – Another way to teach your child to clean up after herself, and that there are things that she needs to do by herself, and not depend on her parents to do it for her.

Know emergency number – Teach your child to dial 911 or if possible, how to dial family’s phone number from a list prominently displayed in your home.  It could save lives.

Talk about her feelings – Encourage your child to talk and describe how she feels about situations and things.  This can help her begin to acquire effective communication skills, and be able to express her feelings which may help her future mental health.

Express affection – This is best taught by example.  Express affection to your child by being warm and loving, and she’ll do the same to you.


Life Skills for 4 – 5-year-old child


Bath self – An important skill for hygiene.  You should also teach your child how regularly he should bathe, and when, so it becomes a habit.

Use and hang towel after bath – Of course part of bathing is using the towel to dry himself, and hang it neatly to dry.

Button/unbutton jackets/pants – Important, especially when your child is about to attend school.  He should know how to unbutton his jacket to remove it, and his pants to relieve himself.

Dress self – Your child should learn to do this by himself on the road to independence.

Tie shoes – Sneakers and rubber shoes frequently get untied, and you are not always there to tie it back.  Your child should be able to do it.

Clean after himself – Teach your child the virtue of neatness, and that he should return things to how he found it.  If possible, he should also learn to tidy or straighten things up without being told just to have a neat-looking environment.

Clean house – Basic skills include sweeping, mopping, washing the floor and washing a low wall with sponge

Make own bed – Part of the attitude of tidying up after himself, teach your child to make this a routine after waking up.

Help in kitchen and basic cooking skills – Start teaching your child kitchen and cooking skills which will be very useful in adulthood.  Start with simple tasks like mixing, stirring, shaking, cracking eggs and making a sandwich

Set table – Your child learns not only to do things for himself, but also for the whole family.

Clear dishes from table – The other side of setting the table

Use the computer or the screen – This includes being able to play educational games with the mouse or a touch screen. Using the computer or tablets opens up your child to all the learnings that tech offers.  Be sure to manage your child’s screen time and that he should be playing in moderation.

Memorize your phone number and address – Your child should be able to recall your address and phone number in case of emergency.  Just remind him not to give it to random people who may not have the best motive in learning this info.

How to use a phone – Your child should now learn how to dial and talk to other people over the phone, not just in an emergency.

Be wary of strangers, keep his or her privacy – This will prevent your child from being a victim of a crime, in the real world, as well as online or in the virtual world.

Active play, sports, exercise – Teach your child the importance of exercise to his physical and mental health with sports or activities that he enjoys.  You can help your child gain easy access to active sports by buying him a ball and other equipment like a basketball hoop in the garden

Learn to bike (without training wheels) – A fun exercise skill that will also help him commute using his bike, or learn an activity that he can enjoy with friends.

Throw trash – Teach your child not only to properly throw trash outside the house but also how to distinguish what is recyclable and not recyclable.  Teach him why we recycle.

Water plants – Just the first step in learning how to take care of a living thing. Teach him how much water is enough

Swim – This is not only a fun, active skill, but something that may save his life. If you are not able to teach him to swim yourself, enroll him is a swimming class.

Identify letters – A great skill to learn before attending school.  You can use educational toys to help your child master identifying letters.

How to count – Counting to 10 and beyond will also help your child start honing his math skills.  Make math fun by integrating counting in his everyday life.

Overcome shyness – Even though some kids tend to be shy, you may be able to reduce his shyness by encouraging him to meet and talk to new friends.

Make friends – being sociable and great at making friends is a great skill that will help him in school and beyond.

Express opinions – Encourage your child to speak up and express his thoughts.  Always respect his opinion.  Gently disagree if he expresses a bad opinion, but don’t belittle his effort to communicate.

Empathy or putting oneself in other’s person’s shoes – Teach your child to understand why certain people behave as they do, especially those that are in a circumstance that are unlike his.

Adapting to other people’s personalities – In addition to being able to be empathetic, he should learn how to interact with people different from him.

Working with a group – A life skill that will prove to be valuable into adulthood, as most achievements are a result of team work.  Have your child work on a project, like a craft, with other children.

Deal with conflict – Even at this early age, you can teach your child to come up with ideal solutions to conflicts, like giving in if the conflict is not worth fighting for, or striking a compromise that is better than having both parties lose.

Admit and learn from mistakes – Teach your child that it’s okay to make mistakes and screw up, as long as you rise from your mistake a better person.  In fact, some lessons from mistakes are better learned when young when the consequences are not yet that serious.

Life Skills for 6 – 10-year-old child


How to read – By this age, your child should be able to read.  Teach him to love reading with these tips.

Sort white and colors in laundry – Teach your child why it is necessary to sort whites and colors when doing laundry, and let her do it.

Fold laundry – Managing clothes will always be a part of your child’s life. Teach your child how to fold the laundry and place them neatly in a cabinet or drawer.

Hang clothes in hanger – Teach your child that some clothes need to be hanged and not folded, and how to use the hanger.

Vacuum house, big vacuum or hand vac – Make this a chore for your child so she appreciates cleanliness of her home at a very early age.

Straighten up house – Vacuuming and dusting are not the only activity needed to make a house look nice, but straightening up and setting the objects inside the house like the furniture, pictures, displays and ornaments are important too.

Intermediate cooking – As your child grows up, she should be able to do intermediate cooking that will serve well in her adulthood like cooking scramble eggs and baking pancakes.  You can teach her math concepts like fractions and using measuring cups while you’re at it.

Use and load the dishwasher – Another chore that will not only teach her necessary skills, but also share household work with the family.   Your child also learns the best way to fit objects in constrained spaces.

Manually wash dishes – The dishwasher will not always be available, and sometimes not the best way to clean, so teach your child how to use the soap, sponge and water to clean dishes manually.

Strip and change bed – Changing the bedsheet is an easy skill that does not need to be done by an adult

Tell time with analog watch – Although your child is surrounded by digital devices, he should be able to tell time when only analog timepieces are available.

Add entries to family calendar – Through a family calendar, your child will be able to notify you about his activities and important events, which might need your presence or resources.  Teach your child to be able to write these entries on the appropriate date.

Basic gardening including raking leaves, pulling weeds and trimming the yard – This is an opportunity to learn life science, like what plants need to grow.  Also, how bugs and animals depend on plants.

Use common tools – Teach your child the use of hammers, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches so he can do basic fixes by himself.

Take care of a pet – Your child should learn how to take care of another creature and how to provide its needs like food, water, exercise, and yes, love and attention.

Eat healthy – By now, your child should be able to exercise her choice on what to eat.  Teach her what is healthy eating and what is not (or through her knowledge, she may even remind you to prepare healthy food)

Initiating communication and be self-assertive – Being assertive and being able to communicate when the need arises is an important real-life skill

Talk in front of peers/people – Communicating with a group of people without feeling shy is an important leadership skill

Work with group/teamwork – In the real world, being able to achieve big things usually involves working with a group.  Coordinating, using his unique talent, and stepping up for the sake of the group is a skill that can be learned by actual working with other people.

Working towards a goal – Learning to focus on a goal and single-mindedly acting to achieve the goal is a good real-world skill to develop.

Study habits – These habits should be instilled in your child from her early school years, if possible, to make her successful in school.  This involves time management, organization, self-discipline, reading habit and memorization skills.

Critical thinking – Your child should be able to tell how something doesn’t make logical or scientific sense, how being deceived by others is bad for her, and where to find credible sources that can help her find out the truth.

Choose friends – As you, the parent, lose influence, his friends will be taking your place as a major influencer.  Teach your child what kind of friends will help him in life – aside from having ones whom he enjoys to be with and makes him happy, they should also be good influences – smart and has good values.


Life Skills for 11 – 14-year-old child


Hygiene – Showering regularly, using deodorant and skin care, having a haircut, and changing  his clothes make your child not only healthier, and will spare him from being avoided by his peers.

House maintenance – Changing a light bulb, unclogging a drain, replacing a vacuum cleaner bag are some examples of house maintenance skills that your child should learn to help in maintaining the house where he lives.

Clean appliances – As a user of household appliances your child should learn to clean the refrigerator, stove, oven and others.

Wash and clean car – At this age, your child is already capable of washing and cleaning a car, which is a useful skill as a future car user,

Cook meals – Another step for your child to survive on her own, learning how to cook meals is important for survival when she is by herself.

Make school lunch – In your child’s progress to be independent in supplying herself with her basic needs, being able to prepare food for her school lunch is an important skill.

Bake basic goods by using the oven – Baking is a different skill altogether, and can be fun to learn.

Do laundry or use laundry machine


Basic sewing, clothes mending

Polish shoes – Polished shoes may be important in attending school, events and other functions

Do basic groceries – Your child should learn not only what to buy, but also how to buy basics like vegetables, meat, and other foodstuffs. You can start to teach your child by letting her work with a list.

Touch typing – Being able to use the keyboard effectively is a basic school, work and communication skill.  This skill, which enables your child to type without looking at the keys, helps your child to put things into writing faster.

How to do his/her hair – As your child becomes conscious with how she looks, she should learn how to do her hair in a way that suits her.

Wrap a present – This is a must-have skill since as your child’s social circle expands, so his need to give presents.

Use the lawnmower – A chore for your child to help in home maintenance. Your child should know how to handle the lawnmower safely.

Put air in bicycle

Work for money – At this age, your child is able to do work like babysitting, working in a food place, dog walking, etc.

Manage money – Teach your child the basics of personal finance, including how interest rates work, and how to work within a limited budget.

Read for pleasure – Reading is an activity that not only leads to learning but also one that provides pleasure, when one consumes a work of fiction or absorbs non-fiction knowledge.  Your child should not only read because it is required by school, but because it is one of the most pleasurable and at the same time mind-expanding activities to while away the time.

Learn to learn – This skill is of primary importance to gain all other skills.  Your child should learn the importance of practice, learning from mistakes, and how to find resources to learn (books, online videos)

Be independent and responsible – Your child should understand that you will not always be there to care and clean up after them.

Think of future goals – At this age, your child should already start to think about what he wants his future to be and what he should do to achieve the future he envisions.


Life Skills for Teens 15 – 18-years-old

How to tie a tie – An important adult skill, as wearing a tie is expected in formal occasions

Drive a car safely – Your child should learn not only driving skills, but how to drive in a way that avoid hazards and accidents

Filling up gas, basic car maintenance like changing tire and cable jumping

Paint and caulk – another way to help in house maintenance

Open a checking account, write a check, use payment apps – A basic skill for doing financial transactions

Register to vote and choose right candidate to vote – Your child by this time should understand that he has a say over how society works and how he wants it to be governed.

Do basic first aid – a skill that could save the life of others

Find a (summer) job or side gig

Budget and manage money – The older your child gets, the more he is likely to handle money. Being able to use and allocate money in the most effective way is an important skill.

Read maps or use Google maps – important, of course, for finding directions as there will always be a need for your child to be on the move.

How to do more advanced house fixes