Hot Topics     Home and Family     Healthy Kids    

Essential life skills every eight-year-old should have



Lockdown offers perfect time to teach these, if you haven’t yet

Lockdown offers perfect time to teach essential life skills


I confess: I did not learn how to sweep a floor until I was working at a country club at age sixteen, and I did not know how to wash dishes by hand until I was being paid to do so in a New York City bar at age twenty. I taught myself to clean a toilet soon thereafter, when it became painfully clear my bachelor apartment would not otherwise pass muster with visitors. I did not learn how to properly fold laundry until I was in a West End musical at age thirty and my dresser taught me. (Yes, I had a dresser.)

How did I arrive at adulthood so ignorant? As a member of Generation X, with an often otherwise-occupied single working mom, I was a classic latchkey kid, coming and going unsupervised from a very early age. Some things went by the wayside. Mom did teach me to do the laundry, to use a stereo, wrap a gift, and to make pancakes. Priorities.

Nowadays, even in two-parent households, it is actually more common for kids to not know the aforementioned skills, and many others.

As Deborah Cruz writes in Cafemom.com, “Somewhere between Gen X and Gen Z, society decided that kids should be overextended in full-time extracurricular activities, train for sports like they're going to the Olympics, and make TikTok videos like it's their job. Parents are scared to disappoint their children and chores seem to be a thing of the past.

But it’s baffling how the same 7-year-old who can master social media can't water the plants or load the dishwasher. We need a happy medium.”

READ MORE: Teaching your kids life skills

I concur. Though I confess that, when my son was heading off to college in 2016, I was ashamed to realize that his mother and I hadn’t taught him some basic cooking and cleaning skills. (He could – and can – make a perfect cup of tea, however. Priorities.) But in my defense, I should note his childhood had been quite different from his mom’s and mine. For one thing, his schoolwork was much, much more demanding than ours had been (really off the charts). We often reasoned he needed a break. Nevertheless, I scrambled to fill in the gap just before he left the nest.

Cruz has created a list of skills she deems most important, and, needless to say, not complicated. According to her, every eight-year-old should know how to do these things, and no parent should be scrambling like me to impart certain skills before a kid leaves home. Fair enough. Behold. Your eight-year-old should know how to:

  • Feed Pets
  • Help with basic laundry chores
  • Dinner prep and clean-up
  • Wash the dishes
  • Use basic household cleaners safely
  • Basic bathroom clean-up
  • Simple sewing skills
  • How to use a broom and dustpan
  • Preparing an easy meal
  • Grocery shopping process
  • Wrapping a gift
  • How to use a hammer
  • How to clean a bedroom
  • Treating a wound with basic first aid

With most schools closed again, and less travel and visitors ahead, now’s your chance. You’ll thank me when the kids head to college.



Other articles by HVP News Reporters


  • Simple tips for mindful eating

    How to incorporate foods your family loves

    Mindful eating doesn’t have to be restrictive and you don’t have to give up your favorite foods. read more »
  • Safe entertaining tips in a COVID-19 world

    Precautions to protect your physical health and your guests

    After an extended period without social contact, it’s only natural to crave some interaction, and there’s evidence that doing so can be advantageous for your mental health. However, taking precautions to protect your physical health, along with your guests’, can make for a more enjoyable event. read more »
  • Keeping pets safe in the garden

    hazards that can impact the well-being of your furry friends

    If you have pets that enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s important to make sure your yard is a safe place for them to be. read more »
  • How to raise kind and caring children

    3 tips from experts

    At some point, many parents will likely find themselves encouraging their children to “be kind” or “be friendly.” read more »
  • Safety tips for a safe 4th of July

    Celebrate safely and use extreme caution with fireworks and family gatherings

    The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) reminds New Yorkers to keep safe while celebrating Independence Day. As we celebrate this annual tradition with festivities ranging from fireworks, picnics, parades, family gatherings and barbecues, let’s also remember basic safety tips that apply to everyone. read more »
  • Weeklong FAIR Film Festival 2022

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) Hosts a Film Screening Plus Q&A

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) will kick off the FAIR Film Festival 2022 with an in-person screening of the documentary film I Am A Victor plus a selection of short films on Sunday, June 12 at 1:00pm EDT at Caveat on the lower east side in Manhattan. read more »
  • Keep kids learning during summer

    3 Fun, Easy Ways

    With school out, summertime brings long, carefree days of play and fun. With a little thought and a few supplies, summer is a perfect opportunity to revitalize their innate love of learning that may be a bit squashed after a year of academic pressures, tests and schedules. read more »
  • Take steps to support literacy

    8 ways to inspire children to read

    Reading is a foundation for learning, yet a vast gap exists in access to books for low-income neighborhoods. read more »
  • Sweeten up summer with a frozen, fruity snack

    Try these easy to make ice pops

    Heading to the freezer for a fruity ice pop can transport you from your own backyard to a tropical island, and the experience can be even more rewarding when the tasty treat is homemade. read more »
  • Clean. Drain. Dry. Every Time!

    Help keep invasive species out of our waters

    One of the most effective ways we can all help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species is by following proper procedures for cleaning, draining, and drying watercraft and equipment every time you leave the water. read more »