Life Skills School For My Kids


I recently shared on Instagram all about my Dad’s “man school” for my brother (basically life skills for kids) and today I’m sharing what he did! 

One of my main goals as a parent is to teach my children life skills and help them become self sufficient. My parents were really good at this, and much of my childhood was spent learning how to clean, cook, organize, talk to people, change a tire, fix a toilet or washing machine, and so much more. I don’t remember all the specifics of the things that they taught me, but it instilled in me a strong work ethic, confidence to do basically anything I want to do, and a “can-do-attitude” as my husband calls it.

I’ve spent the last 13 years of being a parent trying to teach my boys life skills as well, and they are doing a great job of learning, but this summer I want to dedicate a lot of our time to learning some bigger skills that we haven’t spent as much time on.

I have been thinking about this for the last few weeks, and then when I visited my parents in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, my dad off handedly mentioned “Man School” that he did with my brother when he was in middle and high school. Basically it was just a funny name for make sure my brother knew the important things that men should know.

Most of the things on the list apply to boys and girls, but since it was just my brother at home, my dad called it Man School, and since I only have boys, we’re carrying on the tradition and calling it that as well.

If you’d like to do your own version of this with your kids, you can call it anything you’d like!


Life Skills For Kids

Here is the list my dad created fifteen years ago that he worked through with my brother. I don’t know the specifics of how they taught each of these, but he did mention that sometimes they invited a family over who had a son the same age as my brother and they would practice these things together, like helping a girl put a coat on, and they’d practice on their moms over and over until they were able to do it really smoothly.

  1. Phone Skills
    1. Voice
    2. Friendly
    3. Greeting
    4. Messages
  2. Meeting and Greeting
    1. Handshake
    2. Eye contact
  3. Conversational Skills
    1. How to ask interesting questions
    2. How to tell an interesting story
    3. How to be a good listener
  4. Tying a tie
  5. Dressing for Events
  6. Sewing on Buttons
  7. Speaking in Public
    1. Preparing
    2. Practicing
    3. Delivering
  8. How to present a good Power Point
    1. Teaching skills
    2. Persuading Skills
  9. Interview Skills
    1. Resume
    2. Dress for Success
    3. Making a good impression
    4. Follow-up
  10. Dating Skills
    1. Planning
    2. Organizing Group Dates
    3. Asking
    4. While on the Date
    5. Door opening/Coats/Seating
    6. Dancing
  11. Meals/Cooking
    1. Menu Planning
    2. Meal Preparation
    3. Table Setting
    4. Table Etiquette
    5. Table Conversation
  12. How to Clean a Bathroom
  13. How to do the dishes and keep a kitchen clean
  14. Classroom Etiquette
    1. Respect the Teacher
    2. Discipline your conversation
    3. Be a good example
  15. How to make a schedule for daily activities
  16. How to conduct a meeting
    1. Church meeting vs Public meeting
    2. How to write up an agenda
    3. How to run an effective meeting
  17. Money Management
    1. Debit vs credit card
    2. Budgeting
  18. Time management
  19. Goal Setting
    1. Determine your goals
    2. Set appropriate goals
    3. Divide up your goals
  20. Driving a car
    1. Parallel park
    2. Give and follow directions
    3. Lead/follow another driver
    4. What to do in a car accident
  21. Use of Tools
    1. Using hand tools
    2. Using power tools
    3. Fixing things around the house
    4. Maintaining things around the house
  22. Problem solving
    1. How to analyze a problem
    2. How to identify possible solutions
    3. How to pick the best solution
  23. How to buy clothing
  24. How to buy online
  25. How to use eBay and craigslist
  26. How to pack a suitcase


More ideas for life skills for kids

My dad has collected some other lists from people over the years so these are a few other suggestions that are fantastic as well:

  1. Plan a day
    1. Prioritize activities
    2. Schedule
    3. Be on time
  2. Have difficult conversations
    1. Break ups
    2. Bad news
    3. Criticism
  3. Clothing:
    1. Shopping skills
    2. Laundry
      1. Stain removal
      2. Sort colors for washing
      3. Follow washing instructions
    3. Match and Dress yourself
    4. Polish shoes
    5. Iron a shirt
  4. Eat out:
    1. Order your own meal
    2. Tip
    3. Split a check
    4. Pick up a tab
  5. Deal with insurance:
    1. File a claim
    2. Know your coverage
  6. Play the Piano
    1. Be able to play at least 3 hymns
  7. Learn the basics of coding
  8. Care for a child
    1. Diaper change
    2. Entertain
    3. Swaddle
  9. Sew:
    1. Thread a needle
    2. Sew a button
    3. Basics of a sewing machine
    4. Hem a pair of pants
    5. Sew up a split seam
  10. Cut hair
  11. Exercise
    1. Basic muscle groups
    2. Weight lifting
    3. Safety
    4. Stretching
  12. Manage your finances
    1. Save
    2. Budget
    3. Invest
    4. Plan for retirement
    5. Collect info for filing taxes
  13. Write
    1. Poetry
    2. A talk
    3. Cover letter
    4. Letter of intent
    5. Personal letter
    6. Research paper
    7. Email
    8. Text
    9. Take notes
  14. Swim
  15. Pick a lock
  16. Read and write in cursive
  17. Pack and move
  18. Maintain a home:
    1. Yard
    2. Bathrooms
    3. Kitchen
    4. Bedroom
    5. Fold a fitted sheet
  19. Provide basic life support
  20. Dance
    1. Ask a girl to dance
    2. Lead in a slow song
    3. Identify dance type by music
    4. Be confident!
  21. Apologize
    1. Sincerely, quickly, and as often as needed
  22. Drive in inclement weather
  23. Sports
    1. Basic rules and skills for most common games
  24. Politics:
    1. Party ideals
    2. Impact of new laws and taxes
    3. Voting
    4. Elections
  25. Gardening
    1. Plant
    2. Fertilize
    3. Weed
    4. Thin
    5. Protect from pests
  26. Self Defense
  27. Plumbing
    1. Plunge a toilet
    2. Snake a drain
    3. Repair a leak
  28. Construction
    1. Small Dry wall repair/painting
    2. Stud finding
    3. Know the breakers and electrical panel
  29. Mechanics
    1. Jump a car
    2. Change a tire/oil
    3. Check the tire pressure and fill a tire
    4. Detail clean a car
  30. How to accept a compliment
  31. How to admit a mistake
  32. How to seek counsel from someone more experienced
  33. How to hang a picture
  34. How to take notice of needs around you
  35. How to accept responsibility and be reliable

Obviously there are a TON of things on this list, and some will be more important to some families than others…that’s ok! You can pick and choose and add others based on your family’s needs.

Also, some of these skills are great to learn when they’re young, but others are more age appropriate for older kids. And as you can see, some will take years to work on and some are a quick skill to learn.

I’ve come up with a summer plan to help them work on the ones that are more age appropriate for my boys, ages 13, 10, and 7, and ones that I feel are manageable for us to accomplish this summer.

Since I want my boys to enjoy learning and practicing these skills, I’ll be coming up with activities and plans to put these skills into practice. I’ll be sharing that over on my instagram throughout the summer, so follow along there (@merricksart)!

These are the 6 that I’ve chosen to focus on this summer, and then I asked each of my boys to choose 1 that they’d like to work on. Their selections are below mine:

Money management

  • Debit vs credit
  • Investing
  • Basics of taxes
  • How to set a budget and stick to it


  • Menu Planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Stick to a food budget
  • Meal Preparation
  • Table Setting
  • Table Etiquette
  • Table Conversation


  • Shopping skills
    • Shopping sales vs full price
    • Sticking to a clothing budget
    • Quality of clothing
    • Fit/style
  • Laundry
    • Stain removal
    • Sort colors for washing
    • Follow washing instructions
  • Match and Dress yourself
  • Fold and hang clothing properly
  • Polish shoes
  • Iron and steam clothing

Play the Piano

  • Be able to play at least 3 hymns well


  • Basic muscle groups
  • How to use the machines safely
  • Stretching to avoid injuries

Conversational Skills

  • How to ask interesting questions
  • How to tell an interesting story
  • How to be a good listener

My 13 year old’s choice for learning a summer skill

  • He chose money management without even knowing that was one of my picks!

My 10 year old’s choice for learning a summer skill

  • He chose “planning and scheduling a day”

My 7 year old’s pick for learning a summer skill

  • He chose meals/cooking –another one of my picks!

I’d love to hear what skills you’re teaching your children! And if you have ideas of fun ways to teach these, I’d love to hear. Come join the conversation on instagram this week, or leave a comment below!





  1. Michele Perry says:

    A brilliant and INSPIRING list Merrick! Thank you for sharing this. I will be sure to use these myself as a kind of checklist. Wonderful xx

  2. Reem sultan says:

    Kids should learn decision-making, problem-solving, personal cleanliness, meal preparation, and communication skills among other essential life skills. Many youngsters, however, don’t acquire these skills or how to deal with actual life problems until they are in high school. Also in high school, if they are facing so no worries about it ONLINE ASSIGNMENT HELP is available for those students who can not acquire school problems.

  3. Viki Delcambre says:

    Can you make this a download?
    It is very helpful information in ways I hadnt thought of.
    Also would you categorize it by age? I want to share with my grand children. Thank you!

  4. […] finally I just saw this blog post by @merricksart about skills she is teaching her boys. Lots of good ideas especially for older […]

  5. Elisa says:

    This is a very cool program that will help them to better understand the basic things and be adapted to life. I think it will also help them to be more diligent in their education and learning in school and college. This means that they will seek less help on projects like collegepaper that students love so much now

  6. LIAMCHESS says:

    I THINK Teaching kids conversational skills and WRITING SKILLS is crucial for their overall development and future success. Both skills are essential in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, academic performance, and professional success.

  7. Candace says:

    THIS IS FANTASTIC. So many of them are no-brainers, but SO many kids miss out on these skills nowadays. Thanks for sharing!

  8. James Alex says:

    “Just caught up on the highlights of our family reunion in Mexico on REDBOX TV! From what I wore to all the exciting activities we did, it felt like I was reliving those unforgettable moments. Grateful for this streaming app for helping me cherish our precious family memories.”

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