Friday, April 27, 2012

Life Skills - Aged 2 - 18

Life Skills are the tools your child needs to succeed in put together by By Kids = Happy Moms. These are the skills they don't teach you in school, but you can help your child at home learn these important tasks. Make it fun too so that your child doesn't realize they are learning! Something we busy parents should all take an interest in.

Age 2
· Undress self
· Put own pajamas away
· Wash face and hands
· Comb or brush own hair (with help)
· Brush teeth (with help)
· Pick up toys
· Tidy up bedroom
· Clear off own place at table
· Be able to play safely and alone for a set period of time (1/2 to 1 hour) in own room. (Under supervision. Children need to know that they can be alone and still have fun.)

Age 3
· Dress self (with help)
· Make own bed (use comforter)
· Wipe up own spills
· Help set table
· Snap, zipper and button
· Put dirty clothes in hamper
· Start swim lessons

Age 4
· Help gather laundry
· Use a handheld vacuum
· Pick up outside toys
· Dust and clean TV screen
· Empty wastebaskets
· Know own phone number
· Know own address
· Help empty dishwasher
· Help bring in groceries
· Tie own shoes
· Sit quietly in church (looking at books or drawing quietly is OK)
· Next level swim lessons

Age 5
· Put clean clothes away neatly
· Swim (goal – swim independently)
· Leave bathroom clean after use
· Clean toilet
· Feed and water pets
· Get mail (if in a safe place) and put it in the proper place
· Receive a small allowance (if used)
· Money Management: saving, spending and charitable giving
· Know how to make emergency phone calls (911)
· Dust low shelves and objects (consider using a Swiffer)
· Empty kitchen trash
· Clean brushes and combs
· Organize bathroom drawers
· Learn to roller skate
· Learn to jump rope
· Learn to ride a bike

Age 6
· Organize own drawers
· Organize own closet
· Empty dishwasher and put dishes away
· Wash and dry dishes by hand
· Straighten living and family rooms
· Rake leaves
· Help put groceries away
· Make juice from a can or mix
· Make a sandwich and toast
· Basics of spending, saving, and giving
· Pour milk into cereal
· Pour milk or juice into a cup
· Wash out plastic trash cans
· Clean mirrors
· Bathe alone
· Clean windows

Age 7
· Use a vacuum cleaner
· Clean pet cages and food bowls
· Use a broom and dustpan
· Sweep porches, decks, driveways and walkways
· Take a written phone message
· Learn basic food groups and good nutrition habits
· Cook canned soup
· Read and prepare a simple recipe
· Be familiar with cooking, measuring tools and their uses
· Make Jell-O and Boil eggs (hard and soft)
· Money management (earning money and saving for a goal)
· Pack own sack lunch
· Cut up own meat, pancakes, etc.
· Water outside plants, flowers and garden
· Arrange refrigerator or bulletin board "pictures"
· Weed flower beds and vegetable garden
· Strip bed sheets
· Carry dirty clothes hamper to laundry room
· Sort clothes for washing by color and fabric and check pockets
· Straighten book and toy shelves
· Begin music lessons

Age 8
· Fold clothes neatly without wrinkles
· Iron flat items
· Remake own bed with clean sheets
· Clean interior of car
· Vacuum furniture (ie., chairs and couches), especially under cushions
· Water house plants and lawn outside
· Clean bathroom sink, toilet, and tub
· Load and turn on dishwasher
· Trim own nails and clean own ears
· Learn model making
· Set table correctly
· Mop floor
· Peel carrots and potatoes
· Begin teaching time management skills, assignment deadlines, or short blocks of time
· Money Management: Spend, Save, Give principle
Age 9
· Load and operate washing machine and dryer (clean lint trap and washer filter)
· Time management (get activities done in a block of time)
· Fold blankets neatly
· Straighten and organize kitchen drawers
· Help clean out refrigerator
· Prepare hot beverages
· Prepare boxed macaroni and cheese
· Cook hot dogs and scrambled eggs
· Brown hamburger meat
· Dust all household furniture
· Count and give monetary change
· Compare quality and prices (unit pricing)
· Oil bicycle

Age 10
· Replace light bulbs and understand wattage
· Distinguish between good and spoiled food
· Bake a cake from a mix
· Cook frozen and canned vegetables
· Make pancakes from scratch
· Understand the importance of ingredient and nutrient labeling
· Plan a balanced meal
· Know how to select and prepare fruits and vegetables
· Bake cookies from scratch
· Repair bicycle tire and learn basic adjustments
· Know basic emergency first-aid procedures
· Understand uses of medicine and seriousness of overuse
· Wipe down kitchen cupboards
· Be able to do family laundry completely
· Mow lawn
· Know how to handle a pocket knife
· Sew simple crafts on a sewing machine (pillows, bean bags, etc.)

Age 11
· Replace fuse; know where circuit breakers are
· Change vacuum belt and bag
· Clean and straighten garage
· Bake muffins and biscuits
· Make a green salad and dressing
· Do simple mending and sew on buttons
· Wash the car
· Learn basic electrical repairs
· Know a variety of knots
· Understand basics of camera use
· Be a helper in a church ministry
(ie., nursery, Sunday School)

Ages 12 to 15
  • Make deposits and withdrawals at the bank
  • Perform basic first aid and CPR
  • Time Management (should be able to manage an entire day of activities/assignments)
  • Check and fill all car fluids
  • Type with proficiency
  • Money Management: Budgeting basics, Charitable Giving, Spending Plan, Saving for a car, Saving Money, Emergency Fund

Ages 16 to 18
  • Plan well-balanced meals, including shopping and cooking
  • Pass a driver’s test
  • Write checks and balance a checkbook
  • Fill out a job application
  • Make one complete meal (nothing gourmet, just make sure they can feed themselves)
  • Money Management: Budget / Cash Flow, Debit cards vs. Credit Cards, Fraud Protection, Teaching Investing
  • Prepare a resume

Help motivate your child to learning some of these leife skills by using a reward chart - take a look at our website for a reward chart suitable for your child. Our charts can be customized too!

Maybe you can think of more to add to this list - let us know!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

5 Fresh Activities for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day this Sunday, April 22, we have found some interesting ideas that will help you to understand the meaning of Earth Day. Thanks to We Are Teachers for this article. Students across the country are learning about recycling, the environment, and creative ways to protect our planet for future generations of teachers and kids. We love Earth Day because its many subtopics lend themselves to lessons in math, science, language arts, social studies, and more. Here are some of our favorite cross-curricular ideas.

1. Compare vehicle exhaust. Students can get an up-close view of the varying levels of pollution produced by different vehicles by placing used socks over the tail pipes of two or more running cars. You should only leave the socks on for a minute or two and conduct this experiment in an open area, such as a parking lot. Cars with cleaner burning engines will turn the socks less dirty than those with older, less-fuel efficient engines.

2. Study human impact. Invite small groups to go on a walk around your school grounds and take pictures documenting human impact on the environment. For example, children might take a photo of a plastic bag in a tree or litter on the sidewalk. Use the photos to jumpstart a campaign on cleaning up your community.

3. Try composting. Composting is not only a great way to recycle decomposable waste from your classroom or cafeteria, it can also teach kids about gardening and plant life cycles. You don’t need a large outdoor space to begin composting or planting, either—we know a school that does both in classroom window boxes!

4. Write a song for the environment. After learning about some of the problems our environment faces, challenge students to change the lyrics of a favorite song so that they send an Earth Day message about the steps we can take to protect our planet. Film the songs and share them with other classes and families.

5. Track your paper use. A recycling lesson makes an even bigger impact when students can see firsthand how much paper they use over the course of a few days or a week. Save all paper that would normally be collected in your trash or recycling bin. Then weigh it, measure it, and use your data to create graphs showing where and how your school can cut back.

Another idea to save paper - try using our Scrummylicious Meal Planner available at -  a dry erase board that can be reused week after week to help get you organized in the kitchen.

Need more Earth Day inspiration? Check out our  Pinterest board for other ideas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Living the good life, naturally

It is the simplest things in life that can make a difference.  We found this great article by South Florida Parenting Everyone has the power to make a positive impact on the world around them, whether it’s choosing locally made products, making environmentally friendly home solutions or helping those in need. These actions can be beneficial to your family, your neighborhood and your local community.

Eco-expert and author Sarah Copeland blogs about her everyday food and lifestyle experiences on, a Web site that helps readers discover easy and innovative ways to live the good life, naturally.For me, good, natural living starts with the little things,” Copeland said. “No matter how big or small the action, every one of us can take steps toward making the world a better place.”
Copeland offers simple tips on how you can live well naturally — starting today.

Be a Local
Buying food that is grown and produced nearby cuts down on the number of miles between the food and your plate. It also means supporting local farmers and agricultural businesses. There are several ways to find locally sourced food:
  • Shopping at farmer’s markets. You can find fresh local produce, flowers, honey, breads and more.— Eating at restaurants that source ingredients from local farms.

  • Joining a Community Supported Agriculture group. These are partnerships between community members and local growers. Through a CSA, you can buy what are essentially “shares” in the harvest each week. Pick up your goods from the farm or another pickup location, such as a grocery store, and enjoy fresh, seasonal ingredients.

The Natural Way
Go green — literally — by growing your own herbs and vegetables. There’s no faster way to enhance your meal than by adding freshly chopped chives, parsley or mint to your plate. Plant a windowsill herb garden so you can snip and serve up a bit of green in every meal you create.

Products made with sustainable practices give Mother Nature a bit of a break. Select brands and products that are continually improving their operations to help minimize their impact on the environment. Even products like wine can be natural. The Naked Grape wines are created using 100 percent sustainable winery practices.

Do Good for Your ’Hood
Food banks need nonperishable items throughout the year. Find a local food bank, and see what will best fill its shelves. Other organizations take unwanted furniture, clothes and household goods — and many will come pick them up from your home. There’s always a way to repurpose.

Volunteering is a great way to create good in your community, and you’ll feel great doing it. Look for volunteer opportunities that fit your abilities, passions and schedule. Enjoy gardening? Get involved by planting and maintaining your local community garden. They always need help weeding and seeding.

Support local charities and organizations with monetary donations. Financial support, big or small, helps them provide services to others and keeps organizations running.
We hope that you have found these tips useful and you can start helping your family, your neighborhood and your local community.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

71 Things Your Child Needs to Know Before Kindergarten

Looking around the web I often come across interesting articles which I think other parents would like to read to. This is one of them! Thanks to Jenae at I Can Teach My Child for this one.

Have you ever wondered what exactly your child needs to know before kindergarten? Here is a list based upon a Preschool Inventory given to children at the very end of our local Pre-Kindergarten program. I was looking through my old student-teaching notebook and came across this list (granted, it is six years old). It was used as both a guiding document as well as an assessment at the end of the year. I did not come up with this list.

Please keep in mind as you look over this list that kids learn best with hands-on experiences, not memorization or drill practice! These early years with our children should be about fostering a love to play, explore, and learn! Also, it is important to note that our children are all different and gifted in unique ways. Obviously, if your child has special needs, exceptionalities, or is delayed in a particular area, this won’t necessarily be relevant to your child. This is simply a guide…not something to stress about! Finally, all areas of development are of equal importance to young children! Gross motor and social development tasks are just as important as cognitive and pre-reading tasks at this age.

Have fun learning together through games and various experiences while still encouraging your child’s natural creativity!

Personal and Social Development
Approach to learning
Interactions wit Others
Conflict Resolution

Language and Literacy
Literature and Reading
Alphabet Knowledge

Mathematical Thinking
Patterns and Relationships
Number concept and operations
Geometry and spatial relations
Physical Development
Gross-Motor Skills
Fine-Motor Skills

The Arts
Creative Arts

To get more information about each skill, click here . Do you agree with this list?  Do you have any ideas? We would love to hear your opinions.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How Using a Reward Chart Helped My Child With Autism

And now we see a worrying statistic of One in 88 children diagnosed with autism by age 8, according to the CDC.

Many of you know that Victoria started The Victoria Chart Company back in 2004 for her son who was diagnosed with Cerebral palsy, my son is Autistic and I wanted to share a little about how we cope with Autism touching our lives. We would like to offer a 20% discount until 4/30/2012 to help all those families who are affected by autism in some way. We would be delighted if you shared it!

I have always been a great believer in positive praise, way before I had even heard of  The Victoria Chart Company.  We learn as we go along sometimes what works and what doesn't for our children and I found out years ago that raising my voice has the complete opposite effect when dealing with my son. It is a guaranteed way of a complete shutdown and possibly even a meltdown (even today!) And so we started down the route of using a reward chart. - simple stickers or stars stuck on a piece of paper on the wall in the kitchen.  It worked for a few days...

Reward charts take work and determination by parents - it wasn't something that I was expecting - just put a sticker on a chart everytime you want to encourage your child to do well - sounds easy enough doesn't it?

Well, looking back on the 'reward chart' I used, it wouldn't exactly instill me to do well either to be honest, and then I came to hear about The Victoria Chart Company through a friend of mine.  She showed me samples and I became hooked. Not just me, my son loved them too!  We were able to customize to his individual needs; simple things to start with like when he started school he could never keep his shoes and socks on, so with the help of the teachers in his school he would earn 'gold stars' each day for keeping his shoes firmly on his feet! He would also earn stickers for not sucking his shirt collars - something he would do as he was anxious at school.

It worked! The charts were visually appealing - he became very proud of his progress and would show his completed chart to friends and family members visiting our home. I noticed a difference in my son, his self-esteem was building. He was getting positive praise and he just loved it.

Several years later my path crossed again with The Victoria Chart Company as they opened an office in Florida (about 40 miles from me) and I wanted to get involved. I now work for The Victoria Chart Company looking for organizations and parents in the USA who would benefit from using the range of products that The Victoria Chart Company offers.

Due to a change of schools I found a new purpose for using a reward chart again, it became a very useful tool for Homework - all aspects of this - bringing it home, completing it and handing it in. My son is a little old for stickers now but he gets to earn points ... and points mean prizes!! Not big things, maybe a trip to the movies, choosing what to eat for dinner or even choosing the restaurant if we go out. We would discuss the rewards that he could earn with enough points and I got his 'buy-in' to the system in place. We used the My Credit Chart which can be customized for his needs.

Some may say this is like bribing your kids to do things that they should be doing. I do not agree with this statement. Yes of course I want him to complete homework for example, and if that means on a Friday night he gets to choose what meal I cook, I am absolutely fine with that - it helps him with decision making!  We do not use the reward chart all the time but it definitely bring comfort to us both when there is an issue we want to discuss.

Reward charts are a useful tool for all children, not just for children with Autism - but I believe that Autistic kids are very visual which is why these charts work so well.

By Karen Waterfield

The Victoria Chart Company is currently offering a discount of  15% using coupon code VCHART15. This can be used on the website or