10 Pioneer Skills Every 12-Year-Old Needs

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It’s been interesting to me that one of my most popular posts deals with 30 Pioneer Skills We All Need. Based on its popularity, I thought I’d update this post that covers 10 pioneer skills every 12-year-old should know. I’ve been updating older posts with new information as needed.

I have felt for a long time that kids these days have such a different experience and view of life than I did, and even what my married daughters experienced. I have grandkids and I know their parents have taught them well, and for this, I am very proud and grateful. I also realize we need to brush up on some of these 10 pioneer skills so the entire family can work on them together. They seem so basic, yet are really important skills that will come in handy if learned and used.

Here’s the deal, our kids or grandkids will not have to use first aid skills every day, I get it. But, we want them to be self-reliant so if we aren’t around when an injury happens they will know what to do when someone gets cut, scraped, has a broken bone, or even a bad sunburn. This will give them the confidence to deal with these 10 pioneer skills without feeling quite as scared or nervous.

Mark was raised in a family that valued the things taught in merit badge classes held by the Boy Scouts of America. That included swimming, lifesaving, cooking, hiking, fishing, hunting, and yes, first aid. At a young age, he could take care of himself better than many of his neighborhood friends who weren’t involved in Scouting. He feels grateful for those lessons and experiences.

Related: 10 Important Pioneer Skills that We Need

I realize some parents are both working, and there are single parents who are working one or two jobs just to make ends meet. It’s expensive to feed a large family compared to when I had children. I honestly don’t know how some people feed their families with the price of food these days. I know, I can hear you when you voice frustration and concern with current events and the effect market swings have on families. We raised our family on beans and rice, and Mark and I still eat those items to this day. I love beans, just so you know, and they’re priced such that we all should be able to afford to stock up and use them in many of our meal plans! I have these 10 pioneer skills and I will add yours if you have some I should add to my list.

10 Pioneer Skills Every 12-Year-Old Needs

10 Pioneer Skills Every 12-Year-Old Needs

10 Pioneer Skills Every 12-Year-Old Needs

1. Cooking

Every child needs to learn to cook while at home, and if they can learn to do so from scratch, all the better. I’m not talking about how to open a can of food, although that would be great too! Hopefully, at this age, they can learn how to boil water, cook pasta, make salad dressing from scratch, to name just a few.  I have seen 12-year old kids that can make boiled eggs, biscuits, homemade bread, and make a complete dinner. I love that their parents have taken the time to teach these skills.

I think it’s also important for them to learn the steps necessary to prepare meals at home. Those steps would include making up a menu for the week and then purchasing what is necessary to prepare the meals to match the menu. Kids can learn a lot about what it takes to finance those meals they enjoy each day, where to get the best deals, how to stock the pantry so they don’t have to visit the store as often, and how long it takes to prepare the meals so they are ready on time for family mealtimes.

2. Wash Clothes

I was pretty young when my dad was stricken with polio and my mom had to go back to work. She had already taught us some things about laundry tasks, but we got a quick primer on wash day duties I hadn’t learned before. By the age of 12, or younger, the kids can do their own laundry, help with the family wash, and do so without damage to the clothes.

There is more to effective wash day efforts than putting items in the washer and then transferring the wash from the washer to the dryer. You have to be aware of the need to sort out clothes by color, and even texture in some cases. The time required for clothes to get properly cleaned, the amount of soap and fabric softener to use, when bleach is needed, and more.

Pioneers didn’t have to worry about most of these things, but we do. But laundry is laundry, and being self-reliant makes a child happy and confident. It’s surprising how much cleaner their rooms are if they have to do their own laundry. Or in some cases, it can be worse because they are expected to do their laundry and tend to put it off. Having to go to school or church with clothes that can’t pass muster will certainly be a learning experience they won’t soon forget. I have to laugh because I know this from experience, and those involved will remain nameless.

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3. First Aid

Doesn’t it feel wonderful when we see that an older child has cleaned a sibling’s wound, applied a salve, and completed the first aid task by applying a band-aid, if needed? This makes a mom and dad proud! In order to achieve this goal with a few first aid skills, the kids will need to know where the supplies are stashed, what is necessary based on the injury, and how best to use the materials and their skills to solve the injury repair.

I use containers with drawers and they are labeled with stickers to show what is in each drawer, like band-aids, Neosporin, etc. I highly recommend this book where the kids can look through it when needed, or just study before the information is really needed. Medical Handbook. Another advantage is if they are called to babysit for a neighbor they can hopefully face a minor injury with some confidence and not feel the need to call the parents home.

Part of the training should include when to call for help when they are in over their head. Calling 911 and responding to on-the-phone instructions until help arrives may truly prove to be a lifesaving choice.

4. Canning and Preserving Food

My family grew up canning and dehydrating everything we could possibly grow or pick. We grew, picked, washed, and snapped green beans and then canned them. Oh, peaches were our favorite, they were easy to can in quart mason jars. Cherries were okay, but we liked eating them fresh, so very few made it to the canning process.

We made grape juice with the grapes we grew on the backyard fence. Tomatoes were easy to grow and can in quart jars as well. There is something about making salsa from scratch, and also spaghetti sauce as a family. I bet you can picture the whole family lined up with their particular job to preserve the items so we had food stored for the year.

It seems like we have preserved every fruit and vegetable known to man. This year is the first year I pressured canned meat. Unfortunately, my daughters have not carried on the canning tradition, but they all work hard raising their families and teaching them so many other skills they need to use as they leave the nest for school, living on their own with friends, and the ultimate joy of starting their own families.

5. Sewing

I love it when my granddaughters and grandsons come and want to learn how to sew and quilt. I purchased a sewing machine for two daughters so when I go to their house if they need help with a sewing project I can jump in and help them. It makes me smile when I see my two grandsons and granddaughters sewing or mending their own clothes. They buy clothes from thrift stores and alter them, woohoo! Way to go by saving money!

I know there is some debate about the value of sewing your own clothes from a cost standpoint. It seems you can buy many things at Target, Wal-Mart, and other discount stores cheaper than you can make them. There is also the issue of the time it takes and the cost for the material and equipment to do it right.

From my experience, if you keep your eyes open for fabric sales, you can find some great deals. You also don’t need the latest and greatest sewing, quilting, or serger equipment. Look at buying a quality used unit, or consider a previous year’s model.

The thing I remind people is that if you’ve made it, you know the quality of the fabric, the design is yours (with a little help from the pattern book), and it can be made with the color scheme you’ve been dreaming about for that special occasion.

6. Bartering

This may seem like a strange skill to discuss. Back in the day, pioneers often got by when they would trade their skills to acquire things. The farmer would trade produce for work at the blacksmith shop. The sheepherder may trade 10 sheep for a quality horse.

So how does this apply to our kids learning how to barter? If things get tough in an emergency situation, they may have to trade some of the family’s canned food for some fuel to run the BBQ or cook over an open fire. Maybe their bike could be traded for needed food or water. Maybe these examples seem extreme, but who knows what the future may hold with all the challenges we see around us right now.

The key is learning the true value of things and making sure they understand a fair trade when the bartering takes place.

7. Being Polite

Wow, I don’t know where to start on this one. I am shocked at what I see at some of my local grocery stores. Some of the kids are running all over while their mom or dad is talking on the phone. I feel we need to teach the art of saying please, thank you, and the skill of being grateful for what we have.

I have seen a lot of children who are so darn cute and polite, doesn’t it just melt your heart? I raised my girls to use a napkin at the table, whether paper or cloth. It’s the little things like teaching children to eat with their mouths closed. It’s critical to teach them to say excuse me or pardon me when walking in front of someone. I was so proud of one of my granddaughters when she mentioned she was surprised her date didn’t open the car door for her. She was used to her dad doing this for her, and other dates had shown that courtesy. A good example of a parent is everything, right? Be sure to teach your children that bullying is wrong.

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8. Confidence/Awareness

This one is so different today compared to when I was raising my kids. We didn’t have cell phones with texting or using the phone in the car. I’m concerned that many of today’s youth really haven’t learned to effectively communicate face to face. When they have to get up in front of a group, they freeze since they’ve never learned how to speak to a group. Even among friends, they often text rather than call or get together to discuss things.

No wonder they struggle with self-confidence and the related self-image needed to succeed in school, perform at church, or function in clubs and other activities. Those who feel good about themselves seem to be above being dragged down by random bullies.

As far as being aware, I have seen young girls filling their gas tanks talking on the phone while unaware of what’s going on around them. I listened to a woman who gave a talk about how her husband was killed and she was critically injured because a woman was texting and hit them with her car while they were holding hands walking on the sidewalk.

Life changed in an instant for them. I really wish the state I live in would make texting or calling on a cell phone while driving a misdemeanor, or whatever is needed to teach them a lesson. A young girl 16 years old was texting while driving her car and died after driving off an embankment near our neighborhood. Life will never be the same for her family. Luckily no one else was hurt.

Please teach your children to be aware of their surroundings, not to be fearful, but be aware of what’s going on around them. They also need to understand the risks that come to them and others when texting and calling while driving, or even walking in a crosswalk.

9. Navigation

It’s very important that our families know how to navigate in their community and have the confidence to know how to make it home safely. I’m amazed how Mark knows where north, south, east, and west are when we travel. He teases me that he had to learn directions when he had a job as a teenager delivering prescriptions for a pharmacy.

I think few of the younger generation really know how to find their way around. Yup, they have Siri on their phones who can get them from place A to place B. But what if they don’t have their phone and they need to get home or to another gathering place in an emergency. What if they need to drive a sibling or friend to a hospital, but don’t know the best route to use.

Speaking of Scouting earlier, Mark learned to use a compass, and maybe that is too old-fashioned. But if youth can learn to use landmarks in their hometown, if they feel lost at first, they can move in the right direction when they recognize those landmarks and how they relate to the lay of the land.

If they need to get somewhere because of a disaster, flood, or unforeseen emergency, having an understanding of public transportation and how to best get around is critical. Knowing bus routes, where the light rail goes, and if getting on a commuter rail line makes sense, is all valuable information. Take some time to familiarize your kids with all these options, it will pay off.

10. Firearms

In Utah, we have a lot of game meat hunters, so it’s important that our children respect a weapon and what it can do. Please keep them locked up and out of the reach of children. A safe is a great place to keep them, along with the ammunition. Please teach them how to shoot, load, and clean a weapon if you use them. Safety is everything.

If they are confident around weapons they can make decisions that could save their life. If they find themselves in an unsafe situation, even with friends, they can determine when to stay, when to go, and how to talk with those who are acting unsafely.

Most states have a Hunter Safety Course you and the kids can take, depending on how old they are. Consider taking the class together so you get a refresher, but the kids learn the basic skills needed to be prepared to act in various situations.

Final Word

I only talked about these 10 pioneer skills every 12-year-old needs in order to teach the next generation to keep these skills going forward. Thanks again for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world. Linda

Vintage Skills

First Aid Kit

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

28 thoughts on “10 Pioneer Skills Every 12-Year-Old Needs

  • July 17, 2017 at 7:22 am
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    Everyone that cans need to remember to BE CAREFUL. I have canned for 25 to 30 years and everything
    has turned out great but this year I burned myself. I mean 2nd degree burns. I was taking a jar out of the boiling water and it slipped out of my hand and back into the water and it splashed out on me. I lifted my shirt
    to find my skin peeling off. I grabbed an ice cube and rubbed on it. I finished canning and sat with ice
    on my burn then put Neosporen on it and covered it up so I could hopefully sleep. I ended up at the Doctor
    the next day. I haven’t been in much pain but now that it’s healing and the burn is on my stomach where
    my pants hit I have pain at times now. Like I said out of all these years nothing now this, just BE VERY CAREFUL.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 1:17 pm
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      Hi, June, oh my gosh, that has never happened to me either! OUCH! Great tip for all of us to be careful with the boiling water and the HOT jars! Wow, I hope you get better really soon. Burns hurt! Hugs, Linda

      Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 7:47 am
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    Great list! My kids are learning to do all of these except two. They’ve seen me canning and sewing, but I’ve never really taken the time to involve them and teach them these two skills. Thank you for the reminder that I need to teach and not just do. 🙂

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 1:15 pm
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      Hi, Cindy, I remember thinking when my girls were young I need to do the laundry so it will be done right. I finally had to say, when are they going to learn to do it right? What is right, anyway? LOL! I love your comment! Linda

      Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm
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    I would like to share the name of a wonderful product. It is called BURN FREE!!! Saw it purchased it at our Spring Fair, many years ago. I keep some in the kitchen & bathroom.
    I accidently was falling & caught myself on a red hot burner with my open hand!!! Crabbed the burn free & it immediately stopped the pain! Put it on several times & my hand didn’t even blister!!! When this was demonstrated to us at the Fair, the man showing us the product smeared it on & ran a blow torch over it on his arm & he didn’t even turn red!! Another thing you can use is Vanilla Extract. This is a hint from my German grandma. I keep a wide mouth half pint with vanilla (cheap from the $ store) in my cupboard when I’m baking. Thanks for the hints. My family always canned together. 1 son & 2 daughters & husband.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 9:48 pm
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      Hi LaRene, I have Burn Free and love it! I did not know about the Vanilla Extract, I love old pioneer tips from our ancestors! Hugs, girlfriend! Linda

      Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm
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    Linda, you don’t look old enough to have a granddaughter that is dating!!!

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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      Hi Val, I’m 67 and have 17 grandkids! You are so nice! Hugs! Linda

      Reply
      • July 18, 2017 at 1:38 pm
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        GET OUT OF TOWN, AND SHUT THE DOOR! LOL
        Well in that case I think you should do a post on what all your secrets are!!!

        Reply
  • July 17, 2017 at 7:13 pm
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    I believe I read on your post that you can’t knit or crochet because you are left handed. I am in the same boat, I just googled and there are a lot of sites where they teach it. I just thought of googling it, don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.

    Reply
    • July 17, 2017 at 9:46 pm
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      Val, why didn’t I think of doing that? We will have to compare notes if we learn how to knit or crochet!! Love it! Linda

      Reply
      • July 18, 2017 at 1:44 pm
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        Absolutely, except you will probably get to it before me, as I have just got into the prepping so that is way down on my list.
        But be sure to let me know if you succeed and what the best website is, if you will please.
        Keep up the great posts, absolutely love them they are so informative.

        Thanks,
        Val

        Reply
        • July 18, 2017 at 5:51 pm
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          Hi, Val, prepping is very easy. It’s actually a way of life for me. I say, buy an extra can or two of food and one or two gallons of water as you can afford them. My biggest concern is where I live. I probably won’t learn how to knit or crochet anytime soon so I can teach the world to be prepared. LOL! Linda

          Reply
      • November 1, 2021 at 10:29 am
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        I have read that if you sit across from a right handed person you can follow them and learn how to knit or crochet. Sounds plausible to me.

        Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 7:32 am
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    Linda, great post. I feel that the 12 year olds need to learn some about portion sizes, and what a balanced meal is. Just my opinion.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 12:24 pm
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      Hi Deborah, oh, that’s a good idea! I keep hearing our country is leaning towards obesity, I can’t say too much! I need to lose some pounds! Great reminder! Linda

      Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 8:06 am
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    PaPas stepped up on some of this. My 5yr old granddaughter has started grilling burgers with me. I’ve started her in BB gun. My 3yr olds will help fold laundry with their parents.
    My son and his help came over to borrow the trailer. His helper didn’t know how to hook it up and asked. My 3yr old grandson steps up and says you lift this, turn that then put it on. My son looks at me and says well we know what you do when he’s over here. yup we does what needs doing.

    We are loving it as they age. I’m hoping to be of health to continue to hunt and take them when it’s time.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 12:25 pm
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      Hi Matt, you know I love hearing these comments about your grandkids! What a blessing to live close to them. You know I sold my home and the biggest reason is to be close to my grandkids. Life is good when they learn from grandparents the many life skills they need. Linda

      Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 8:12 am
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    Linda,

    This is one of your best articles ever and I totally agree with each an every point. Teaching civility to youngsters would go a long way towards making the world a better place. I would put a decent martial art under the confidence/awareness item, as judo, jiu jitsu, karate and the like instill both, as well as an element of politeness. And one of the best things about teaching a child awareness is that it is the beginning of learning the world does NOT revolve around them.

    Like you, I was raised with firearms. Hunting and fishing was always a part of my world. I begin teaching my kids firearms safety as soon as they were big enough to hold a .22. (I got my first .22 as a gift for my 8th birthday). Firearms training instills confidence. Hunting and fishing teaches children where meat comes from, as well as a respect for nature and the natural world. Hunting also teaches the basics of navigation. My small rural school had shooting sports and coaches who taught those boys (and of course it was just boys back then) firearms safety–though most had already learned it from their fathers and grandfathers. (The girls learned archery and I envied them for that). I really think if children were taught civility and a proper respect for firearms there would be far fewer lost to gun violence.

    Talk about how the culture has changed, I was able to bring my first pocket knife to school for show and tell.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 12:33 pm
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      Hi Ray, oh my gosh, you brought your pocket knife to school for show and tell, the best comment ever!! Boy, how things have changed! Now some schools require clear-see-through backpacks. I wonder now if I was raising my kids if I would homeschool them now. It wasn’t as popular 50 years ago. I learned so much in Home Ec and always wanted to take woodshop, but only boys could do that. LOL! Your comment is awesome because we do need to have the kids take all of these classes or if we have the skills to teach them. Life is good with well-rounded kids that show respect. Good one! Linda

      Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 9:01 am
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    Good Morning, Linda. I noticed most of the comments on this is from 2017, however, I’m going to give this info to you anyway as it might help anyone with burns. I am living proof of very severe burns to my right are when I was a child of 5 or 6. I was twirling around at my grandfather’s and fell into the fireplace fully of live coals. My right arm, from my fingers to my elbow was covered with the live coals. My aunt ran into the kitchen, broke open, I don’t know how many eggs, and then dunked my whole arm into the egg whites. When my mother got me to the Dr., he said that was the only thing that saved my arm from a lot of surgery and scaring. To this very day, some 70 years later, I never had any scaring or issues with my arm. The Dr. also told my mother to never put any ointment on a burn as it doesn’t stop the deep burning process. I must say, I’m a firm believer in egg white on any type of burn, and believe me, I’ve burned myself a lot over the years. Hope this helps someone else.

    Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 12:14 pm
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    Hi Linda, I came across this burn medication by sheer luck. It works instantly and doesn’t hurt upon application…..the magic is Vicksvapo rub !!!!!!!!!! They say it’s the camphor in it that helps.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 1:39 pm
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      Hi Harvette, oh my gosh, I did not know this, thanks for the heads up! Linda

      Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 2:03 pm
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    Linda:

    Seems to me that there are a lot of adults who need this information especially being polite. What I want to know is where did manners go? People today don’t have them that is for sure.

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 2:51 pm
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      Hi Jackie, oh I’m with you on that one. I finally had to get off social media. I’m shocked at what some people share and say. I do not need it. Manners are out the window, let alone kindness. I talk to my friends in this group, they have manners and are kind. It makes me sad what I used to see on social media. Linda

      Reply
  • November 1, 2021 at 4:38 pm
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    Don’t forget looming. I make hats for homeless people, very easy to do with a loom even if you’re left handed. I agree people should learn to knit or crochet. I can’t make a sweater, but I can make 2 large squares, sew them together at the shoulders, and part way up the sides, to wear under jackets if it’s very cold

    Reply
    • November 1, 2021 at 5:19 pm
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      Hi Margaret, great idea! I used to weave when I was younger! Great tip! Linda

      Reply

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