11 Life Skills All Teens Need to Know
“Thank you so much for writing that recommendation for me. Can you help me with this envelope I have to send it in? How do I write an address on it?”
That year (before college apps went digital) I had not one, but TWO, high school seniors ask for help addressing an envelope. Both young men were super smart, accomplished, and applying to top schools. And neither had any idea how to complete this basic task.
Parents, myself included, tend to do stuff for our kids, but there comes a point when that kiddo needs to accomplish these life skills for him or herself. That time better be before they move out of the house!
I’m writing this during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re all stuck at home for a while, so this would be a great time to work on these skills!
11 Life Skills that All Teens Need to Know
1. Address an Envelope
Apparently, teens don’t send letters or cards anymore. This is a necessary skill, especially once you move away from home. I send cards to family members for birthdays and holidays.
Learn how to address that envelope here. Write a note to a family member or friend on the other side of town, address the envelope, and put it in the mail! (Don’t forget the postage stamp!)
2. Write a Thank-You Note
This is a necessary skill! Not only are you sending a thank you note to Grandma for your birthday present, but to network professionally. You can send thank you notes to people who write recommendations for you, interview you, or just give you feedback. Yes, I know you can send an e-mail, but sending snail mail makes a bigger impact
3. Write a professional e-mail
Do not get me started on the horrible e-mails I received from students when I was teaching. Ugh. It was clear to me they had no idea how to write an e-mail. I considered it my civic duty to teach my students how to do this.
Though teens can text on their phones like champions, they often can’t type well. Like “hunt and peck” can’t type well. There are many typing apps that can speed this process up. Don’t try to write a 10-page paper hunting and packing – it will take forever!
5. Use a planner
The #1 reason students don’t use planners is that they have never been taught how and why to use one. Once you explain the purpose of a planner and how to set it up, planner use becomes much easier – and you get more out of it!
Read about my favorite planner and how to use it here.
6. Tell time on an analog clock
Most of the schools I worked in used analog clocks, not digital ones. If I had a nickel for every time a kid asked the time, I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now! MANY of my students told me they never learned (or more likely forgot) how to tell time on an analog clock. Listen, you won’t always have a digital clock or your phone within easy reach.
Check out this tutorial and work on those analog clock skills!
7. Call and make an appointment
Since few teens use the actual phone, they don’t know how to do basic things over the phone, such as place a food order or make a doctor’s appointment. That last one is necessary!
I worked as a medical receptionist while in college, so I remember well the questions I asked patients on the phone. Practice answering these questions before calling the doctor’s office, salon, mechanic, etc.
- What are you coming in for?
- Are you a new patient/ client?
- What health insurance do you have? (This obviously only works in medical situations.)
- When would you like to come in? (Provide a day AND time.)
8. Write a check
I taught this one year to my older study skills students – they thought this was the coolest thing ever. Few teens write checks anymore, but the utility company doesn’t accept Venmo. So, a little practice is good before the real ones need to be written and mailed.
Here is a simple guide to check writing!
9. Do laundry
I can’t say this one is new, but many of my students have no clue how to separate and do laundry. When teens leave the house and get an apartment or move into the dorms, they are flying blind when it comes to laundry. But even tweens can learn how to do the laundry!
Get some tips for cleaning your clothes in this article.
10. Iron clothes
It’s nice when mom and dad are doing your laundry for you, but that ends when you move out. And let’s try to impress your boss with a wrinkle-free shirt. While each garment presents its own difficulties, if you can master the shirt, you’re golden!
Get some pointers on ironing here!
11. Cook a basic meal
Please don’t leave home without being able to make simple meals. Start with items like hard-boiled eggs, spaghetti, or mac & cheese. Then move onto more complicated dishes. I learned to cook (not bake!) from watching Rachael Ray’s Thirty Minute Meals. She gives great tips and basic recipes that taste delicious!
Hopefully, you read through this list of life skills and thought, “I’m ready!” If not, be sure to click on the links I found for you. You can do this!