Teaching Your Children Life Skills
During this unprecedented time of at-home learning, there are many things you may not realize you are teaching your children, just as critical as mathematics, reading and writing. It is time to expand our notion of learning. Genuine learning should go beyond core educational topics.
While you may not be an expert on algebra or physics, you still have skills to teach your children. Think about how your own passions or hobbies could be taught to your children by including them in what you are already doing.
For instance, a parent who needs to change the oil and check the tire air pressure in their car, could easily include their children in these activities. Not only will they likely have fun, they will be gaining valuable knowledge and skills. In fact, if the children are old enough, they may be able to take over this task on a regular basis. Your children may also find they have a passion for working on cars and want to expand their skills by helping with other vehicle repairs.
If a parent has a passion for gardening, inviting the children to help you weed the beds, plant the seeds, water and then pick the fresh produce and flowers is again, lots of fun (particularly if you get dirty and wet) and very educational. Including your children in the design and layout of the planting beds along with what will be planted can be empowering to children. You may find they will actually eat the vegetables they helped to plant!
Parents will find this type of quality time spent with their children helps them develop a closer relationship and bond. Any time spent with your child that doesn’t include the daily rushing to school, getting to sports practice and hurrying through dinner is time well spent.
Many parents are teaching their children to sew, cook, fold the laundry, wash dishes and even make their own beds. These are lessons that should continue even when the pandemic is over. Children who learn these tasks early and incorporate them into their daily lives will be better prepared for the future.
If your children are resistant to learning about your interests, figure out what your child’s own interests are and use them as a jumping-off point for teaching them life skills. Studies show that people with a sense of purpose are the most likely to thrive, especially when times are tough.
If your child likes to play video games, be assured they are learning valuable skills that can help in their future profession. Your child is learning to pay attention, think flexibly and developing problem-solving strategies. The trick is to support your child’s interests, even if they don’t interest you. So, if your child loves video games, play with them. If they are interested in knights and superheroes, read books on the subject. You can even draw them on construction paper or with chalk on the sidewalk. You can also talk to your child about what it means to be a hero.
The groundbreaking book, Mind in the Making, by Ellen Galinsky describes the seven skills necessary for success in all aspects of life, including school, relationships and work. Children can learn these skills beginning in early childhood. Galinsky believes the most important life skills for children to learn are:
- Focus and Self-Control
- Making Connections
- Critical Thinking
- Taking on Challenges
- Self-Directed, Engaged Learning
All of these life skills can be developed through intentional daily activities.
Other essential life skills to teach your children so they are better equipped for the real world are:
- The importance of Health and Basic First-aid
- Responsibility and Daily Living Skills
- Time Management
- Decision-Making Skills
- Managing Money and Basic Budgeting
- How to Shop
- How to Cook
- How to do Laundry
- The Importance of Environmental Preservation
- Finishing Tasks Independently
- Basic Etiquette and How to Order at Restaurants
- How to Use Maps
- Basics of Travel
- Looking at Situations from Other’s Perspectives
- Resilience and Adaptability
If families are able to use this chance to engage their children in learning, it is a gift that will last a lifetime. This time you spend helping your children learn life skills will always be remembered. Time for forever memories!