Tag Archives: life skills

Teach Your Kids to Build a Website!

In a previous post, we talked about including essential life skills in our homeschooling plan. Today, I would like to zero in on a particular skill which, in my opinion, no child should be without: the ability to set up and maintain a website.

You might ask, “What earthly good is it for my children to build websites if they aren’t going into a computer science career?” Much. In our day and age, the likelihood of owning a business at some point during one’s lifetime is good. Businesses often develop quite naturally from hobbies or other passions we pursue.

Even a small side business needs a website these days. If the owner has no knowledge of how websites are put together, he could end up spending hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for a basic package setup. And, if he doesn’t know how to make small changes, every time an update is needed (this can be often), he is again at the mercy of the website developer. More money must be paid out, and modifications may not happen as quickly as the owner would like.

By gaining familiarity with website basics now, your children will be able to tailor-fit, and tweak, their spot on the web. All this can be done cheaply and excellently — if they know how.

My daughter combined her writing skills with her knowledge of basic HTML coding (the stuff websites are made of) to start and maintain our church website as a volunteer during her teen years. Later, she turned that know-how into a side business as a copy writer, creating content for web developers. It was an unexpected path for her, and it probably never would have happened if we had not incorporated website building into her homeschooling experience.

Start with a Blog

The easiest way to get started with website building is through a blog. Most businesses now use WordPress to set up their website anyway these days. So, once you learn the basics of blogging, you are well on your way, using the built-in editor to get started. A little knowledge of coding will allow you to do fancier things than the editor allows (more on coding later).

For a free blog, register at WordPress.com. There are others available, but WordPress has the most features and is easy to use. I still use the WordPress free site for my blogs, even though I also use a paid hosting website for my business. WordPress allows you to choose from many different themes (appearances). You can tweak and customize within those themes, and if you get tired of one look, you can easily change over to something different. The blog settings allow you to control the level of privacy you want your child to have.

Why have your children blog?

  • Blogs are a great way to encourage your children to write. They can journal or create short stories and poems to share with extended family and friends.
  • Blogs can be used to record and preserve writing assignments.
  • Make on online scrapbook of memories via a blog — pictures and essays about special family outings, for instance.
  • Blogs provide an outlet to share about a particular passion or hobby.
  • Blogs can be a vehicle to share Jesus.

With adult supervision, even young children can create a blog of their own. As they grow older, what they include in their blog can progress to more complex ideas.

Next Step — HTML

Blogging using the default visual editor provided by WordPress is a nice start, but there are quite a few things which that basic editor won’t let you do. And sometimes, the visual editor gets stuck and won’t let you fix whatever went wrong. To do the more complex stuff, or to tweak what isn’t looking right, you need to know some basic HTML code. There is an “HTML” tab next to the visual editor. Use that. (Some blog platforms call it the “text” or “advanced” editor.) In the HTML editor,  you will see the codes which were automatically plugged in when you used the bold, italic, text color, and link buttons in the visual editor.

Have your older children play around with creating a blog post entirely from scratch in the HTML editor. To do that, they will need to learn basic HTML. It’s fairly simple and logical.

Links to simple HTML tags and tutorials:

Tutorials Point — HTML Basic Tags
A Simple Guide to HTML
Web Source

After you have played with HTML within your blog editor, you may want to move on to doing an entire website from scratch. Within your blog, WordPress has already done some of the preliminary coding for you. It is hidden code which you won’t see in the HTML editor. It is connected with whatever theme you picked out for your blog.

If you want to learn how to do the whole works, you can use a free website provider to get started. I began my website journey at Angelfire. Another free hosting site is Weebly. There are others, too. These sites will slap ads on your finished web pages, but they are a good place to practice. They usually feature an advanced editor for those who already know HTML. You can start by using their website builder tools to get the initial framework coding in place, and then switch over to the advanced editor after they help you with setup.

There are a lot more possibilities for website building than basic HTML, if you or your children are interested in exploring them. You will find links to additional free tutorials at my website’s Favorite Links page (near the bottom of that page).

Happy website building!

 

 

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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