Offer Your Child a Life-Skills for Teens Class

By Melissa Batai

After your teens grow up, you want them to be independent and able to live on their own. However, many teens and young adults do not have the skills needed to handle most basic daily living tasks. 

I’m embarrassed to admit that when I went to college, I didn’t know how to do laundry, and I barely knew how to cook. I didn’t learn to cook until I lived at a college co-op and had to cook one night a week for the 49 other residents. Help your child be self-sufficient as soon as she moves out by offering your child a life-skills-for-teens class as part of her high school curriculum.

What Should a Life-Skills for Teens Class Include?

You can determine what skills to include based partially on what interests your child. However, you may also want to include some other life skills that your child may not enjoy but should learn before venturing out on his own. Consider the following:


When you teach your child how to cook, you teach her also how to save money because cooking food at home is much cheaper than eating out. Teach your child at least 20 recipes she can easily make and that she enjoys. If you don’t like cooking much yourself, your child can take an Outschool cooking class. The teacher will walk your child step-by-step through cutting the vegetables and preparing the meal.

Remember to also teach weekly menu planning and creating a grocery list as well as shopping. Perhaps one week put your child completely in charge of all of the tasks of preparing food for your family.


Most people don’t sew their clothes anymore, but sewing is still a valuable skill to learn. Your child will benefit from practical skills like learning how to sew on a button and how to fix a tear or a loose seam.

Automotive Maintenance

Our automobiles are getting increasingly complex, but there are still some tasks your child can do on his own that will save money such as changing the oil. He also needs to learn to check and top off the car’s fluids regularly. An excellent resource for teaching these skills and others necessary for home maintenance is Shop Class for Everyone.


You don’t have to garden, but as the pandemic showed us, supply chains are vulnerable. If your child knows how to garden, she knows how to feed herself. She can either help you garden, or she can start her own garden. Even if she eventually lives in an apartment where she can’t garden, she can still grow herbs on her window sills and save money that way.


CPR is a valuable skill for everyone. If he wants to work as a lifeguard or babysit, he’s more likely to be hired if he knows CPR. Your local Red Cross offers CPR workshops .

Preparing Tax Returns

If your teen has a job, instead of doing her tax return for her, help her do it herself. She should be able to fill out the form herself or learn how to use software to complete and file it herself.

Basic Finance

Learning basic finance is essential. You’ll need to cover multiple layers of finances to help your child successfully, independently enter the world. Ideally, you’ll start teaching personal finance at a much younger age, but if you haven’t, now is the perfect time. You’ll want to cover these aspects of basic finance:

1. Budgeting

The first thing your child needs to learn to successfully manage her personal finances is how to budget. She can keep her budget using paper and pencil, Excel, or a budgeting software. (I personally love You Need a Budget and find its premises helpful for helping people plan ahead for future expenses, not just current expenses.) Dave Ramsey offers a free budgeting tool, Every Dollar.

2. Understanding Wants Vs. Needs

An important lesson, especially for impetuous teens, is the difference between wants and needs. If your child can learn to recognize and control wants, she’ll usually have enough money left for needs.

3. Balancing a Checkbook

People use checks less frequently now, so your child may not have learned how to keep a checkbook. Teach her how to use checks and a checkbook. At least a year or so before she moves out, have her open a checking account and use it so she’s familiar with the process before she’s on her own. Bounced checks can be expensive!

4. Credit Card Usage

Likewise, help her understand the pros and cons of credit cards. I had a friend who got her own credit card at 18. She told me she couldn’t stop using it because “it was like free money.” As you can imagine, within a few short months of having the card, she was several thousand dollars in debt.

You’ll want to teach your child about the interest rates on credit cards and how much she’ll pay back if she goes into debt as well as how many years it will take her to get out of debt.

5. Loan Agreements & Terms

Finally, you’ll also want to teach her about loan agreements and terms. If she plans to go to college, this is especially important if she’s thinking about taking out student loans. Make sure she knows how much she’ll pay over the life of the loan and how much she’ll have to pay monthly and for how many years. Sometimes just this knowledge can deter your child from taking out student loans.

Final Thoughts

Your child has a lot to learn before moving out on his own. Consider offering a life-skills-for-teens class so he can learn these skills and more. Then when he moves out, you can be comfortable knowing you’ve trained him well and that he’s equipped with the tools to be successful in life.