Beyond Academics: Teaching Your Kids Essential Life Skills
Basic high school education is important. Classes like math and English, science, and nutrition all help to create well-rounded students. They can also pave the way for successful higher education later on in life.
However, it doesn’t take much to realize that there are some significant shortcomings when it comes to the average young adult’s “soft skills.”
With that said, here are a few suggestions for different ways that parents can help prepare their homeschooled children for many of life’s challenges that go unaddressed in a typical out-of-the-home education.
Perhaps the greatest shortcoming of the modern education system is the neglectful attitude it has towards the basic functions that come with running a home. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, a parent or a bachelor, you still need to know how to take care of rudimentary homemaking functions, such as:
- Cooking and baking.
- Understanding proper nutrition and menu planning.
- Going grocery shopping.
- Doing laundry and mending clothes.
- Housekeeping and basic home maintenance.
It’s this lack of training in basic life lessons that has led to the term “adulting” to describe basic activities that are seen as responsible and grown-up.
The truth is, though, from a very early age, young adults crave to be given meaningful work. They can study algebraic formulas and classic literature all day long, but if they aren’t given a chance to be a productive part of their household — especially with tangible, home ec activities — it ends up depriving them of an essential life skill that more and more young adults lack upon graduation.
Another basic life skill that is often left unaddressed, or at least largely underdeveloped, is that of finances. Sure, the mathematical part of finances is taught through things like arithmetic, but that basic knowledge is often never built on. This creates students that lack basic life skills like financial literacy and money management, which does not bode well for a country that is already swimming in debt, both corporately and individually.
If you want your kids to learn the most important extracurricular life skills, a thorough grasp of finances should be high on the list, including skills like:
- Earning an income.
- Tracking expenses.
- Maintaining a budget.
- Setting aside savings.
- Paying bills on time.
Once you’ve addressed these basics, look for ways to increase your high schooler’s financial literacy. For instance, you can expand on their basic fiscal experiences by tackling subjects like:
- Paying taxes.
- Opening up and paying off a credit card.
- Taking out loans.
- Building your credit score.
- Making investments.
- Choosing an affordable and profitable higher educational path.
By teaching financial literacy, you equip your child with one of the foundational building blocks of life — regardless of the kind or level of degree that they end up with.
While Home Ec and finances are both essential, they are also very down-to-earth, mundane activities that can still leave even a successful individual socially isolated. If you want to expand your high schooler’s life skills beyond the practical, you should also teach them about how to handle interpersonal interactions in both short- and long-term scenarios. A few hot-button social and relational topics that are worth addressing regularly include:
- Socialization: Help your child learn to practice active listening and emotional intelligence. Every child needs to learn these lessons at some point, but if your child also struggles with a sensory disorder, consider using a sensory room to help them learn to develop better speaking, listening, and general interaction skills.
- Building and maintaining friendships: Teach your child to choose and build friendships wisely and learn to put others before themselves.
- Family life: Helping to prepare your child for both relationships and raising children are severely under-addressed concerns in the modern nuclear family. Regardless of the particulars of their own familial future, teenagers should be shown the importance of commitment and responsibility, especially as it relates to a future partner and/or offspring.
Teaching your kids to develop their interpersonal interactions can have a positive impact far into their future. Not only can it help them in their personal lives, either. Having well-developed social abilities is a highly sought after skill in the workplace, as well.
Teaching Your Kids to Survive and Thrive as Human Beings
There’s no doubt that an academic education is a pivotal part of a well-lived life, particularly in the 21st-century. Nevertheless, academia should never become so important that it overshadows the need to learn basic life skills. Preparing the whole child for their future is what homeschooling is all about.
By teaching your high schooler basic life skills like cooking, budgeting, and the ability to build and maintain relationships, you’re helping them learn to live life to its fullest. If you can take those life skills to the next level, such as teaching about investing or preparing them for a future family, you can ensure that you forge well-rounded individuals that are primed and ready to thrive from the moment they graduate.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in topics related to politics, urban living, society, and health. If you’d like to learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.