10 practical life skills your child should know by age 12

The early years of adolescence will bring an avalanche of changes and challenges to your child’s life. To help them cope with whatever’s thrown at them as they inch their way towards adulthood, be sure that your pre-teen has these ten practical skills under their belt.


1. How to cook a meal

Your twelve-year-old doesn’t need to know how to whip up a four-course meal or flambé merengue, but a basic understanding of cooking and the ability to put together a handful of simple, straightforward recipes with supervision is a great way to prepare your child for adulthood. If you’re not sure what kind of meals to teach your kid, try checking out this list of child-friendly recipes compiled by Daily Mail. Some favorites include pancakes, stir fry and spaghetti bolognese.


2. How to wash dishes and clean up after themselves in general

Ask any masterchef--cleaning is as big of a part of cooking as making the food itself! Along with knowing how to put together simple ingredients to form simple meals, knowing how to wash dishes and clean up afterwards is also a skill your child should have by 12. In fact, The Spruce suggests that you start teaching kids the beginning stages of dish washing as early as six years old. It starts simply with scraping your plate after dinner -- as your child ages, they should learn to load the dishwasher and understand basic safety principles (like how to wash knives and other sharp objects).


3. How to do their own laundry
Aside from the fact that teaching a child to do laundry can relieve a parent from having to do load after load of shirts and sheets every day, it’s also a practical skill that’s good for kids to learn early on. To find ideas on how to come up with a kid-friendly laundry plan for your household, and instructions on how to teach your child to wash their own clothes, check out this article at Life as Mom. After your child learns to wash their own soccer uniforms and socks, what will you do with all your free time?


4. How to care for an animal

If you’re able to have a pet, animal care is an excellent practical skill that can help teach your children responsibility. When feeding, handling, bathing or exercising a pet, your child is learning important skills that extend to caring for themselves and others. For help with teaching animal care to your kid, check out Alpha Mom’s pointers on petcare.  But don’t worry, you don’t have to adopt an animal for your kid to gain these skills; they can also be acquired through pet sitting for friends or relatives, taking on the responsibility of walking a neighbor’s dog, or volunteering at a local animal shelter.


5. How to use a map

In this technology age, map reading may seem like a lost art, but it’s a practical skill every child should know. Though your kid may not need to explore uncharted lands or drive highways yet, basic map-reading skills like how to use a map key and how to navigate are excellent excellent skills that will assist your child well into adulthood. Using the practical tips at Get Out with the Kids you can teach your child how to use a map (and probably have a ton of fun doing so in the meantime!).


6. How to plant a seedling and care for a garden

Besides providing simple lessons on photosynthesis and biology, gardening also teaches kids responsibility and patience. The Art of Simple suggests these three ways to teach your kid the art of gardening, like growing an herb garden for example.


7. How to use self-defense tactics and stand up against bullying

In the years following twelve there’s a lot of changes and social pressures which sometimes lead to bullying problems. Kids today face more danger than ever before. These moves and pointers from Verywell will prepare your child early on to snuff out bullying, whether it be directed at themselves or others.


8. Basic computer skills

It’s not just in workforce now that computer skills like the navigation of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are necessary. In fact, most kids are required to use a computer and at least one of these softwares in school well before high school. Help give your child a head-start and use one of the fun and free computer lessons from E-Learning for Kids to teach your child anything from keyboarding to basic internet safety.


9. How to hammer a nail and other basic woodworking skills
It may seem less of a necessary skill in this tech-drive age, but by twelve every child should know how to hammer a nail and also other basic woodworking skills. To get your kid handy with a hammer and teach them about woodworking and carpentry, try walking through one of any of these 26 kid-friendly crafting projects at the Saw Guy.

10. How to perform CPR

Hands-only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a simple and easy to remember method that could save a life, but a lot of kids never learn it; in fact, you may not know it yourself! Use the step-by-step method accompanied with with a tutorial video at Your Teen to teach your child CPR. It could save a life, and who knows, that life could be yours.


It’s your job to help gear your child up to face adulthood and all of the challenges life will throw at them in the coming teenage years. There’s no way of knowing what exactly your kid will come up against, but teaching them valuable, practical skills like these will have them well on their way  to becoming a well-rounded, capable young adult.

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