More life skills that kids, and maybe adults, ought to know

01/26/2012 12:00 AM

01/25/2012 1:11 PM

Reactions to last week’s column about skills children should have before they leave home fell into two general categories:

1.) You’re absolutely right! Everyone should master those things and more. For example …

And, 2.) You’re absolutely right! But I’m embarrassed to say there are a few things on that list I need to learn myself.

My suggestion, for instance, that every adult should know how to fold a fitted sheet prompted a Twitter conversation in which one friend shared a video tutorial — to watch it, Google “how to fold a fitted sheet” — and others thanked him for finally solving one of life’s great mysteries.

Some readers were glad my list included basic car maintenance, such as checking the oil and changing a tire, but thought it should go further: changing the oil, checking and refilling coolant, jump-starting a car, even changing the battery, starter and alternator.

“I know a girl that paid nearly $300 in parts and labor to put in a starter that I know my 19-year-old daughter could have put in,” wrote Rick McMullen.

Similarly, many readers agreed that children should learn how to balance a checkbook but suggested additional money-management skills. (Fortunately, a new graduation requirement in Wichita means all high school students will get at least one semester of financial literacy.)

Thanks to dozens of people who called, e-mailed or posted on Facebook, here are more modern-day skills everyone should know and then teach their children:

•  How to clip coupons and look for sales.
•  How to figure interest on a loan.
•  How to perform CPR and first aid.
•  How to write a prompt, proper thank-you note.
•  How and when to say “please,” “thank you” and “excuse me.”
•  How to set a table.
•  Basic table manners.
•  Basic self-defense.
•  How to introduce yourself, shake hands, exchange pleasantries and maintain eye contact.
•  How to treat a stain.
•  How to use a corkscrew.
•  How to file income tax.
•  How to plan meals and make a shopping list.
•  How to tell when food is expired and when to throw it out.
•  How to count back change without a computer or calculator.
•  How to buy insurance.
•  How to hem pants or skirts.
•  How to schedule doctor or dentist appointments.
•  When to schedule basic car maintenance.
•  How to register to vote.
•  How to negotiate a car purchase.
•  How to drive in bad weather.
•  How to make a bed and keep a room clean.
•  How to be safe in your room, apartment, house or car.
•  How to listen to your instincts and avoid questionable or dangerous situations.
•  How to flip a breaker and change a fuse.
•  How to turn off the water supply to a toilet, sink or entire house.
•  How to light a water heater and furnace.
•  How to change a light bulb.

About Suzanne Tobias

Suzanne writes about family life on Thursdays. She has covered local news for The Eagle since 1990. Suzanne is a native of North Carolina and earned an English degree from North Carolina State University.

Find her on Twitter: @suzannetobias

Contact Suzanne at 316-268-6567 or by emailing her at

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