16 things you need to do for your children before they leave home

Some lessons can't be learned in a classroom. Which of these important skills and activities have your kids yet to experience?

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  • All parents want to know how they can give their children the best advantages in life, but making sure they go to school and do their homework isn't always enough. There are a multitude of things you can do to give your children the experience they need to succeed as adults.

  • Here are a few activities and skills you can expose them to that could make all the difference in their futures.

  • Let them make mistakes

  • We'd love to keep our kids from ever making mistakes and suffering the attendant heartache and consequences, but sometimes the only way they can learn is through experience. Take a step back and let them choose wrong once in awhile, then be there to help them pick up the pieces and start over.

  • Give them the keys to the kitchen

  • Most of the time, it's best to go by the book when it comes to cooking, but try letting the kids make up their recipes. More than likely they'll come up with something inedible, but chalk it up to another important learning experience. Once they see the results of deviating from a recipe, they might be more willing to follow it (apply this principle to cooking and life in general).

  • Sign them up for a team sport

  • Working as part of a team is something every adult must do at some point. Let your kids start learning the dynamics of teamwork early by letting them join a team sport. Babble.com says it's also a good way to show them "the sweet taste of victory, and the bitterness of defeat." Let them learn to deal with those strong emotions now while they have you around to help them.

  • Take them on a road trip

  • Go on a family adventure to see something new. Everyone needs to see more of the world than their backyard. Plus, there are some lessons you can't learn unless you spend hours sandwiched together in the backseat of a car with your family.

  • Enroll them in music lessons

  • Besides teaching them a new skill, music lessons can actually help your kids academically. According to Psychology Today, a research study out of Boston Children's Hospital found that when children and adults receive musical training, they exhibit improved "cognitive flexibility, working memory and processing speed."

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  • Teach them how to garden

  • Not only will this be a handy skill later in life, but they'll also learn from an early age that food doesn't magically appear on their plates or in the grocery store. Every good thing results from a lot of hard work.

  • Let them splash in some puddles

  • There are a million times you'll tell your kids "no" while they're growing up. Try to find a few occasions where it might actually be OK to say "yes," even if it means cleaning up some extra dirt or going a little out of your way.

  • Take them fishing

  • Wildlife expert Jeff Corwin told Parents.com every child should have a chance to catch and eat his or her fish. Think of it as another way of teaching your kids about the circle of life.

  • Give them a shovel

  • Holes can be filled in and hands can be washed. Digging is a great way for kids to work intimately with nature, and they'll be exercising without even knowing it.

  • Let them know they can talk to you about anything

  • You are your child's primary source of information, including the awkward conversations regarding sex and dating. WebSafety can allow you to bring up such vital conversations by giving you acces to your child's internet browsing or text messages and proceeds to alert your phone if your child is using derogatory words or receiving inappropriate messages.

  • Go star-gazing

  • Help your kids learn about astronomy and spend some quality time in the outdoors. For extra fun, find out when there will be a meteor shower and stay up to watch it.

  • Pay them an allowance

  • Kids won't learn how to handle money unless they can practice with it. Money always comes from somewhere, though, so requiring them to work for what they earn will teach them respect for their money.

  • Read to them from classical literature

  • You don't have to read the whole book but select a few well-written passages or chapters so they get an idea of the elevated language and interesting concepts classical literature can offer.

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  • Show them how to take care of car

  • Everything to do with cars is expensive, from buying one to filling it with gas to keeping up with its maintenance. When children learn the value of a car and how to take care of it, they'll hopefully be more mindful of how they treat the family van and be more savvy auto owners as adults.

  • Take them to a play or other theater performance

  • Expose your kids to a little culture once in awhile to help encourage a love for the arts. Local high schools and community groups often put on inexpensive or free plays for the public.

  • Teach them how to be safe online

  • Unfortunately, the internet isn't always a safe place, but knowing how to interact safely online isn't something kids automatically know. They must be taught, by example and through parental guidance, how to be safe online. This is one arena where you don't want your children to make mistakes.

  • Download the WebSafety App today to learn how you can make sure your kids are safe when they get online. These early years of innocence deserve protection.

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Katie Nielsen received her bachelor's in English with an emphasis in technical writing. She has taught English and is a published writer.

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