FEBRUARY 12, 2020

Adding Life Skills to Your Homeschool Curriculum


This post is sponsored by Time4Learning.com

When I first started homeschooling I was always caught up in focusing on the core subjects. Sure, we did chores together and occasionally made lunch as a group, but that was it. I never really considered life skills as that important. When I look back at that time, I realize now my decision was silly—I’m being kind to myself!

Life skills play a huge role in how kids function in society at an early age and as adults. For example, when my kids are in a social setting, I want them to be polite, friendly, and relaxed as they talk and play with other kids. But life skills don’t end with socialization, there are so many more skills that we can teach as homeschoolers. Here’s a bonus, as homeschoolers we have the flexibility to actually include them in our curriculum. 

If you haven’t incorporated life skills in your curriculum, or are just looking for some additional ideas, check out these suggestions. My kids enjoy them and they add some serious fun into our day.

The Power of Persuasion

We are inundated with messaging every day. From TV commercials, internet ads, texts, emails, and news, to conversations with friends and strangers. A basic function of messaging is to “persuade.” If our kids can’t sift through the deceptive practices and harmful messaging, they could unwittingly become influenced into making poor decisions.       

For example, I remember almost getting a credit card when I first started college. The salesperson was so persuasive, he made this credit card sound like I could travel the world for free. Luckily for me, I had a friend who knew better.  Avoiding deception isn’t easy, but here are a few tips you can pass on to your kids:

  • Don’t make a quick decision. Give yourself some time to think it through, whether you’re buying a car or clicking on a link.
  • Gather as much information as possible. Talk with other people, do online searches, and investigate any resources available.
  • Fact check. There are plenty of websites that help with fact-checking claims. 
  • Use critical thinking skills to help you detect deception.

Kids and adults are targeted for deceptive messaging and practices. Teach your children from a young age that not everything they hear or read is true. 

Money Skills

These skills go far beyond just spending and saving money. Kids should learn at a young age how to manage money. This includes generating a budget, balancing the budget, tracking their spending, and something experts call creating money priorities. For instance, perhaps your high school student wants a car, that would clearly be their money priority. The largest chunk of their budget would be set aside for their goal, not weekend fast food purchases.  

Other ideas for teaching money include:

  • Use digital help such as Goodbudget for budgeting and money management.
  • If you get PBSkids on TV, have your children watch Biz Kids
  • Make your grocery shopping list with your kids and let them help with the shopping.
  • Teach your kids how to use an ATM and make sure they know that when the money appears, it comes out of your account—it’s not magical like my child first thought! 
  • Open up a bank account and keep track of their savings and spending. 
  • Play money games, like Math-Play, online.
  • Teach them about doing taxes and the importance of filing them each year.

My parents never taught me about money management and that hurt me as I grew older. To be fair, money skills have never been a huge focus in this country but it’s gaining momentum now.  

Teach Everyday Skills

I’ll never forget the day I visited my good friend and found her neck-deep in dirty laundry. Her son had just come home from college for the weekend and he brought his wash. Now, I know parents will do their kids’ wash for them, but this was crazy! He didn’t know how to do his own laundry, so he just kept wearing the same clothes. Once I witnessed that scene, I immediately went home and started teaching my kids about doing their laundry. 

Some additional daily skills include:

  • Keeping things organized:  This can start with organizing the classroom and their bedroom. It’s amazing how much space you can find once you organize something like a closet!
  • Time management: Let your children help set the school schedule and have them stick to the time structure. 
  • Cooking and cleaning up: As your kids get older, they should start making their own meals and cleaning up the mess. 
  • Using knives: If your child understands how to use a knife properly, they prepare better meals and have less chance of cutting themselves.
  • Swimming skills: We taught our kids at a young age because this skill is super important.
  • Listening skills: If you children don’t understand how to listen, they won’t learn or experience as much. 
  • Exercising: Exercise improves your child’s physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Buying their own food: You can teach your kids about healthy foods and how to read labels and compare prices. 
  • Using tools: Knowing how to use a hammer, screwdriver, and tape measure will come in handy. 
  • Keeping a positive outlook: Things won’t always go your children’s way but that doesn’t mean they can’t stay positive.   
  • Taking care of pets: If you have pets, your child should help feed them, walk, and groom them. 
  • Typing skills: Your child will probably be using a computer, so this skill is necessary for school and beyond. 
  • Safety: There are many things that fall under this category, including fire prevention, personal safety when walking alone, safety of others, and more. 

 Getting Started

Once you come up with the life skills you’re interested in teaching, simply fold them into your daily schedule. For instance, you could teach money skills or talk about persuasive messaging three days a week. Messaging is a big topic for me because there are so many traps being set out there for the uninformed and naive. 

Point out how credit card commercials make life seem so exciting and carefree when you own a credit card, when in reality millions of people are in debt. Build a birdhouse together to learn how to use tools and add in a lesson about your local ecosystem. Your kids could also clean up each day, organize the classroom, or practice typing. 

There really is no limit and the great thing is, you are seriously preparing your kids to become self-reliant and confident adults. Now that’s awesome!