What About Life Skills?

Am I teaching everything my child will need to know in order to function well in life? This is a question in many homeschooling parents’ minds. We tend to be anxious about whether we have left gaps in their learning.

The truth is, many young adults brought up in a traditional school setting also have a huge gap in their education. Specifically, while they may have conquered academics, an increasing number are deficient in basic life skills, ranging from knowing how to carry out everyday tasks to the ability to interact well with other people.

In our home, we included a “Life Skills” class for all four years of our children’s high school experience. Whether your state homeschooling laws allow you to give high school credit for such a class or not, it really should be a goal to teach our children how to do life well in non-academic areas, no matter what type of higher education or career they are planning on.

Here is a checklist of life skills you may want to teach your child before they reach adulthood:

Social Skills

  • Basic manners
  • All the “Be kind to one another” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” things. (While this may seem to be a no-brainer, a casual dance through social media reveals that caring for the feelings of others is a scarce commodity, even among Christians.)
  • Listening – includes being willing to hear, discuss, and learn from someone else’s opinion or perspective without feeling threatened
  • Knowing how to resolve conflict or differences of opinion without anger
  • Conversational skills —
    — Asking questions to start conversation and show interest in others
    — Making eye contact, maintaining appropriate space from other people’s faces, being in control of body language
    — Dialoguing, rather than dominating
  • Empathy – being able to put oneself in the other person’s shoes and respond accordingly
  • Functioning well as a “team player”
  • Having the courage to say no when necessary
  • Coping with criticism — using it to learn, but refusing to let it drag down self-esteem

Thinking Skills

  • Following step-by-step instructions
  • Organizing thoughts, both oral and written (Outlining practice helps with this.)
  • Logic – cause and effect (“If this, then that.”)
  • Decision-making

Responsibility / Reliability

  • Being on time
  • Following through on commitments, such as verbal or written promises and appointments
  • Having a good work ethic – not goofing off, doing one’s best, being worthy of the wage paid

Servanthood

  • Valuing others
  • Looking out for the needs of others before self — includes getting rid of that “What’s in it for me?” attitude
  • Recognizing and avoiding intimidation and manipulation tactics
  • Leading by example, rather than bossing people

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Nutritional food basics
  • Cleanliness
  • Common sense first aid
  • Advanced first aid — knowing how to do the Heimlich maneuver for both children and adults; perhaps CPR training, too
  • Natural healing remedies
  • What’s minor versus what’s important to see a doctor about

Housekeeping (both boys and girls for many of these)

  • How to clean – dusting, vacuuming, bathrooms, etc.
  • Washing, drying, and folding clothes
  • Neatness – tackling clutter, organizational skills
  • Cooking – the basics, including how to follow a recipe
  • Sewing – simple mending tasks, such as sewing on a button, fixing a torn seam, darning a hole, hemming
  • Ironing
  • Mowing lawn
  • Gardening (and preserving the harvest)

Auto

  • Knowing what is serious and needs immediate attention
  • How to air up a tire
  • Fluids checks
  • How to wash that critter!

Home Repairs and Maintenance

  • Basic tool use – hammers, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers (Yep! Girls too!)
  • Simple plumbing and electrical fixes
  • Painting / remodeling / construction
  • (You can find out how to fix just about everything on YouTube!)

Money Management

  • Faithful giving to the Lord (establishing tithing habits)
  • Shopping for deals
  • Budgeting
  • Responsible credit card use and management
  • Managing / balancing a checking account
  • Developing saving habits
  • Investment knowledge and practice
  • How loans work; simple and compound interest
  • Basic economics knowledge – Fun book: Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? (affiliate link) (Other “Uncle Eric” books on finance)
  • Filing taxes

Basic Computer Skills

  • Downloads and uploads
  • Maintenance
  • Minor fixes
  • Using a word processing program proficiently

Self-Learning

  • How to research answers online
  • How to efficiently study and retain knowledge
  • Online course sites, such as Udemy, Lynda, SkillShare
  • YouTube

This list is not exhaustive – but it may seem a bit … exhausting. Keep in mind that it doesn’t all have to be done in a twelve-week course. You can spread the learning out over many years, exploring new skills as they seem relevant and age-appropriate. Go over your checklist from time to time, just to make sure you are making headway and not forgetting anything vital.

I have probably not caught everything, so if you see something missing in this list, please add your thoughts to the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Character Building for Families

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