When it comes to providing children with a well-rounded education, we tend to focus on academics and extracurricular activities. Both are important, but, they aren’t the only things that we should be concerned about.
Our children need to master academics and pursue their hobbies and passions, but it is also essential that we teach them a variety of necessary life skills.
Life skills are those things that we all use to navigate life, society, and the world. They are the skills that make life easier and more enjoyable and enable us to function as productive members of society.
So what are some of the life skills that our children should learn?
Being able to communicate with others effectively is essential. These skills include active listening, being able to express oneself clearly, reading social cues, and knowing how to take turns in a conversation.
Teach communication skills by using presentations and providing opportunities to participate in debates and give speeches. These activities are usually available through local homeschool groups. If that isn’t available to you, think outside the box and look to local community colleges, Toastmasters groups (for older students), or community theater.
For younger kids, you can do things like play telephone (which is excellent for getting them to listen carefully and convey messages) or even have a verbal, directions-based scavenger hunt. My youngest daughter loves scavenger hunts, and they help her learn to listen carefully and follow directions.
Another essential life skill is money management. As adults, we spend a great deal of time either trying to figure out how to earn money, earning money, spending money, or trying to figure out how to spend less money.
However, many people only start learning these things as adults. It benefits our children if they learn at an early age. You can start teaching them very young – even when they are toddlers.
Take your children with you on shopping trips, to pay bills, and to the bank. Teach them what money is and what it is used for. Show them how to earn and save money, budget, and invest. You can give them an allowance or let them earn money for completing jobs around the house. Teach them how to balance a checkbook, help them open their first bank account, and teach them about credit and loans.
You should also consider teaching your child about how to build a business. You can do this by helping them to figure out how to monetize one of their hobbies or passions. For example, if your child loves to draw, perhaps they can do caricatures at local family events. If they enjoy cooking, maybe they can have bake sales. The opportunities are endless!
My oldest daughter enjoys web design and coding. She is planning to run her own business, so we’ve focused on introductory business courses online to get her started. She has also done some Virtual Assistant work for me to learn how to blog and use social media for business purposes. All of these are valuable life skills that have become part of our homeschooling curriculum.
Of course, we all have to eat. Your child should know the basics of nutrition and keeping their home well-stocked with healthy foods. You should make a point of taking them grocery shopping with you sometimes. Extra points if you teach them how to shop from a grocery list and stick to a set budget.
Grocery shopping leads to cooking. Start early by allowing your child to help you in the kitchen by measuring (which is a great way to integrate math), pouring, and mixing. As they get older, you can teach them how to create a meal plan, and put them in charge of preparing meals one or two days each week.
This is a “critical” skill. (See what I did there?) Without the ability to analyze and reason, your child might fall prey to faulty logic and the inability to problem solve or think for himself. You can teach critical thinking skills in a variety of ways. Riddles, puzzles, and mystery books are fun ways to teach critical thinking from an early age.
As your children get older, discussing current events and the books they’ve read can help them think through the issues and formulate their own opinions.
I’m sure that I don’t have to explain why time management is such an important (yet often difficult) skill to master. You can teach your child time management skills by giving them more control over their schedule. Help them create to-do lists, prioritize the items, and create schedules and routines. They might dislike it now, but they will appreciate it later.
Another important skill is goal-setting. This is a skill that your kids will use all throughout their lives. You can teach them about goal-setting through exercises such as creating a vision board and then figuring out what they need to do to achieve those goals. This could also be an exercise in perseverance and delayed gratification.
What skills would you add to this list?