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Practical Things to Teach Your Senior Before They Graduate

So you have a senior in high school?  Be prepared for a year of “last of’s,” invest in a truckload of Kleenex, and be ready for some big time arguments as you enter the tug-of-war world of last minute parenting instructions and a teen who is ready to be on their own.  

To help you navigate this year, we have compiled a list of a few practical things to teach your senior before they graduate and leave the shelter of your roof.  

Write a Check: Most of us rarely use a checkbook anymore, delegating our bank to automatically write them for us, but there is that possibility that your teen will need to know how to fill out a check.  Most teens learned how to do this back in 6th grade during a Junior Achievement Presentation, but many don’t remember how. While you’re at it, remind them how to sign their name in cursive.  Seriously.

Get money out of an ATM machine:  Most teens use a credit or debit card. If they need cash, they receive it from their parent.  Many teens don’t know how to use an ATM, let alone know the code to retrieve cash from it.  While you are teaching this skill, it might be good to discuss safe and non-safe ATM machines.

Maintain a budget:  Teens are used to being given a limit on their spending…but typically it’s the parent giving them that limit.  Teaching them how to use their money wisely is important both now and for their future.

Pump Gas in their Car: You may have laughed at this one, but you would be surprised how many teens do not know how to put gas into their own car.  This is especially true if the teen is sharing that vehicle with a parent.

Change a Tire:  Do you know how many teens have never changed a tire?? Do you know how many adults have never changed a tire? Some teens don’t even know where to find the spare tire in their own car.  It will give you piece of mind knowing that they can take care of themselves if they get a flat.

Get the Oil Changed: Most of us learned how to check the oil levels in our car, but with the beauty of today’s technology, most cars electronically tell you when the oil needs changed.  And although it’s as simple as taking the car to the shop, most teens have never done that before and have no idea what to ask for when they do go.

Sew On A Button:  With the omission of the requirement of Home Economics classes, most teens have no idea how to do a simple task of sewing on a button. Teach them the skills of using a needle and thread. You’ll be shocked at how many teens have never threaded a needle before!

Do the Laundry: Most of your teens have had to load a washing machine and/or a dryer before, but have they ever had to do their laundry in a pre-pay machine?  Learning how to use the coin-operated machines and now the card-operated machines is an important tool…esp. for teens who plan to live in a college dorm and/or live in an apartment that doesn’t offer the luxury of a washing machine/dryer like they have at home. While you’re teaching them this skill, you might want to show them how to use a stackable washer and dryer too. OH!  And don't forget the much forgotten skill….using an iron.

Address an Envelope:  Scary isn’t it?  But, seriously, you would be surprised how many teens have never done this before.  Make sure they know how to do this, how to buy stamps and how to properly affix a stamp to an envelope.

Make a Doctor’s Appointment:  When they get sick, who calls the doctor/dentist/chiropractor, etc?  We do.  Show them how to locate a doctor, how to make an appointment, and how to use their insurance card.

Simple Kitchen Skills:  Boil Water. Seriously.  Use a Toaster. Can't make this stuff up, people! Turn on an oven....and a stove top.  Read a recipe.  And while you're teaching these...have them be in charge of the grocery list this week, finding the items AND buying them.

And the list goes on….A great rule of thumb is to include them on each task that you do this year…even if you think they already know how to do it…even if they complain and/or tell you they already know how to do it.  They will be grateful down the road…and let’s be honest….so will their friends who didn’t have a parent teaching them these things!


WRITTEN BY Amy Hanna