Essential life skills to teach your kids before they leave home


Essential life skills to teach your kids before they leave homeTransitioning into a university environment involves a lot of change, including not having your parents around to help you with the small stuff. Calls home for mom or dad’s help are inevitable, but parents can prepare their kids before they get immersed in university life by teaching them these essential life skills.

  1. Laundry – Although this might seem obvious, you’d be surprised by the number of first-year students who have never even done their own laundry! Help your teen to understand the basics of separating colours, choosing the right settings, portions of soap and what should and shouldn’t be thrown in the dryer. Otherwise you might find your grown kid is wearing pink T-shirts two sizes too small.
  2. Cooking – I’m not talking about mac ‘n’ cheese or toast here. Help your child learn a few of their favourite recipes so they can satisfy their cravings for home cooking. Guide them through some basic skills like nutrition – how to tell when foods have gone bad and simple ways to get that taste of home. Although they might roll their eyes, they’ll be thankful when they can whip up mom’s spaghetti sauce on a cold Sunday night.
  3. Managing money – Going away to school is likely the first time students have to manage their own money for essentials like food, housing and school items. It’s crucial to teach them about budgeting and how to live within their means. Give them the basics like how much things actually cost. Then move to more advanced concepts of debt, credit and interest rates, and teach them how to use credit cards responsibly. Teaching your kids how to budget their money means fewer frantic phone calls home asking for cash.
  4. Cleaning – My biggest first-year lesson was adjusting to not having a dishwasher and learning that running to class without first soaking my dirty dishes is a bad idea – on so many levels! Teach your kids some house-cleaning basics so they’ll know how to keep their new residence reasonably clean.

Moving away from home is a big adjustment and inevitably there will be calls home for advice on certain issues. Parents can make the transition easier by teaching these essential life skills while kids are still at home. Come September, first-year students will face many adjustments, but at least they won’t have to worry about the basics!

To learn more about making the transition between home and university, visit or call 1 866 833-7690 and speak to a counsellor.

About the author

Entering her final year at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Claire Sargeant is a student majoring in psychology. For the past three summers, Claire has been working in the Communications Department at Shepell∙fgi. During the school year, she is actively involved with Queen’s Health Outreach, a student-run NGO that promotes international health initiatives. Claire also enjoys working with kids and is a long-time volunteer at Camp Oochigeas, a camp for children affected by cancer. When she graduates, Claire hopes to balance her love of travel and working with kids to promote positive physical and mental health.

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