Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

Making a List, Checking it Twice

20071220_122620_9735 Vaughan Nelson via Compfight

Around the holidays, it’s not unusual to have lots of lists on hand, including honey do, gift wishes and even naughty and nice lists.  There’s one list, however, that may contain the best present idea parents can give to their kids. It’s a Life Skill check list that defines age-appropriate responsibilities. Culled together from practical and professional advice, the  list of life skills from Busy Kids=Happy Mom’s  is more like a set of guidelines than actual rules. It does, however, give you a good idea of when to get your kids involved in basic self care. It may seem like a tall order for nervous helicopter parents or those unwilling to clean up after the inevitable mess of kids’ do-it-yourself attempts. We’ve all been there at some point, but experts agree; The best thing we can do for our children is teach them skills for independence.

According to the list, a typical five year old should have the skills to clean a toilet, which seems odd to me considering that my husband has yet to master this skill.  How do you and your family rate against this Life Skills list? Do you have your own list? What additions would you make?

Age 2

  • Undress self
  • Put own pajamas away
  • Wash face and hands
  • Comb or brush own hair (with help)
  • Brush teeth (with help)
  • Pick up toys
  • Tidy up bedroom
  • Clear off own place at table
  • Be able to play safely and alone for a set period of time (1/2 to 1 hour) in own room.  (Under supervision.  Children need to know that they can be alone and still have fun.)

Age 3

  • Dress self (with help)
  • Make own bed (use comforter)
  • Wipe up own spills
  • Help set table
  • Snap, zipper and button
  • Put dirty clothes in hamper
  • Start swim lessons

Age 4

  • Help gather laundry
  • Use a handheld vacuum
  • Pick up outside toys
  • Dust and clean bookshelves
  • Empty wastebaskets
  • Know own phone number
  • Know own address
  • Help empty dishwasher
  • Help bring in groceries
  • Sit quietly in the doctor’s office, religious services, etc. (looking at books or drawing quietly is okay)
  • Next level swim lessons

Age 5

  • Put clean clothes away neatly
  • Swim (goal – swim independently)
  • Leave bathroom clean after use
  • Clean toilet
  • Feed and water pets
  • Get mail (if in a safe place) and put it in the proper place
  • Receive a small allowance (if used)
  • Money Management:  saving, spending and charitable giving
  • Know how to make emergency phone calls (911)
  • Dust low shelves and objects (consider using a Swiffer)
  • Empty bathroom trash
  • Organize bathroom drawers
  • Learn to roller skate
  • Learn to jump rope
  • Learn to ride a bike
  • Begin learning how to tie shoes

 Age 6

  • Organize own drawers and closet
  • Empty dishwasher and put dishes away
  • Wash and dry dishes by hand
  • Straighten living and family rooms
  • Rake leaves
  • Help put groceries away
  • Make juice from a can or mix
  • Make a sandwich and toast
  • Basics of spending, saving, and giving
  • Pour milk into cereal
  • Pour milk or juice into a cup
  • Wash out plastic trash cans
  • Clean mirrors
  • Bathe alone
  • Clean windows
  • Empty kitchen trash

Age 7

  • Use a vacuum cleaner
  • Clean pet cages and food bowls
  • Use a broom and dustpan
  • Sweep porches, decks, driveways and walkways
  • Take a written phone message
  • Learn basic food groups and good nutrition habits
  • Cook canned soup
  • Read and prepare a simple recipe
  • Be familiar with cooking, measuring tools and their uses
  • Make Jell-O and boil eggs (hard and soft)
  • Money management (earning money and saving for a goal)
  • Pack own sack lunch
  • Cut up own meat, pancakes, etc.
  • Water outside plants, flowers and garden
  • Arrange refrigerator or bulletin board “pictures”
  • Weed flower beds and vegetable garden
  • Strip bed sheets
  • Carry dirty clothes hamper to laundry room
  • Sort clothes for washing by color and fabric and check pockets
  • Straighten book and toy shelves
  • Begin music lessons

Age 8

  • Fold clothes neatly without wrinkles
  • Remake own bed with clean sheets
  • Clean interior of car
  • Vacuum furniture (ie., chairs and couches), especially under cushions
  • Water house plants and lawn outside
  • Clean bathroom sink, toilet, and tub
  • Load and turn on dishwasher
  • Trim own nails and clean own ears
  • Learn model making
  • Set table correctly
  • Mop floor
  • Peel carrots and potatoes
  • Begin teaching time management skills, assignment deadlines, or short blocks of time
  • Money Management:  Spend, Save, Give principle

Age 9

  • Load and operate washing machine and dryer (clean lint trap and washer filter)
  • Time management (get activities done in a block of time)
  • Fold blankets neatly
  • Straighten and organize kitchen drawers
  • Help clean out refrigerator
  • Prepare hot beverages
  • Prepare boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Cook hot dogs and scrambled eggs
  • Brown hamburger meat
  • Dust all household furniture
  • Count and give monetary change
  • Compare quality and prices (unit pricing)
  • Oil bicycle

Age 10

  • Replace light bulbs and understand wattage
  • Distinguish between good and spoiled food
  • Bake a cake from a mix
  • Cook frozen and canned vegetables
  • Make pancakes from scratch
  • Understand the importance of ingredient and nutrient labeling
  • Plan a balanced meal
  • Know how to select and prepare fruits and vegetables
  • Bake cookies from scratch
  • Repair bicycle tire and learn basic adjustments
  • Know basic emergency first-aid procedures
  • Understand uses of medicine and seriousness of overuse
  • Wipe down kitchen cupboards
  • Be able to do family laundry completely
  • Mow lawn
  • Know how to handle a pocket knife
  • Sew simple crafts on a sewing machine (pillows, bean bags, etc.)

Age 11

  • Replace fuse; know where circuit breakers are
  • Clean and straighten garage
  • Bake muffins and biscuits
  • Make a green salad and dressing
  • Do simple mending and sew on buttons
  • Wash the car
  • Learn basic electrical repairs
  • Know a variety of knots
  • Understand basics of camera use

Ages 12 to 15

  • Take a babysitting course through the local hospital
  • Make deposits and withdrawals at the bank
  • Volunteer at the library or food bank
  • Perform basic first aid and CPR
  • Time Management (should be able to manage an entire day of activities/assignments)
  • Check and fill all car fluids
  • Type with proficiency
  • Money Management:  Budgeting basics, Charitable Giving, Spending Plan, Saving for a car, Saving Money, Emergency Fund
  • Have a work experience (paid or unpaid) with responsibilities and set hours.

Ages 16 to 18

  • Plan well-balanced meals, including shopping and cooking
  • Pass a driver’s test
  • Write checks and balance a checkbook
  • Fill out a job application
  • Make one complete meal (nothing gourmet, just make sure they can feed themselves)
  • Money Management:  Budget / Cash Flow, Debit cards vs. Credit Cards, Fraud Protection, Teaching Investing
  • Prepare a resume

A note from Busy Kids – This list was compiled after consulting many resources and other moms.  I am not able to do everything on this list nor do I expect my children too!  I do feel; however, that helping to prepare your child for life with some basic skills will make them a more independent, productive adult.  I enjoy teaching them when they’re young and interested!