10 Life Skills You Can Teach Your Kids When Homeschooling Becomes Too Much
"The single best thing I've taught my kids during isolation is to empty the dishwasher. Seriously, it's a MUST!"
I love having my kids at home with me, but I also despise homeschooling them. Don’t get me wrong, I know how important their education is, and I do try… but quite often it results in us all being so frustrated we have to walk away for a while.
If you’re not comfortable with curling up into the foetal position in the back of your built-in wardrobe while you all take a break from the learning, there are other things you can help teach your kids that can offer a welcome change from the books. Why not also teach them something they will be able to use in the future, and hey – you never know, there may be some incidental learning in there too!
Basic Life Skills List for Kids’ Learning and Development
1. Bake a cake
Everybody loves to eat cake, right? OK most people love cake. Bake something else if your kid would prefer, but keep in mind that baking will teach them how to cook and feed themselves, which is an essential life skill. It will also teach them maths without the pain of sitting down and doing fractions – half a cup of sugar, two cups of flour… what if we made an extra big cake and doubled the recipe? How about a smaller half-batch of cake batter?
2. Boil an egg
Yes, I’m talking specifics here. Boil an egg, then scramble one the next day, fry and poach. If your child knows all the different ways to serve up an egg they can pretty much cook anything.
Then you can also branch out and have them cook the whole family dinner too. The limits are endless!
Look, this one has the added benefit of actually being helpful from this point on. If your kids don’t know this already, teach them how to dust, how to empty the dishwasher, how to clean windows and mirrors. Younger kids can learn how to put their toys away after they’ve finished playing with them. Older kids can learn how to clean the bathroom (don’t forget to show them about safety first!).
The single best thing I’ve taught my kids during isolation is to empty the dishwasher. Seriously, it’s a MUST!
Older kids can learn how to put a load of washing on (after sorting the colours from the whites first!)
They cannot go out into the future and live in their own filth so you may as well teach them while they’re around to actually do it for YOU!
4. Navigate using a map
I have memories of sitting in the car talking my mother through how to get to our destination with the old Gregory’s street directory on my lap, index finger tracing our journey. These days with mobile phones and GPS navigators it’s not such a done thing, but it totally should be! Go for a walk with your kids and let them navigate to find their way home.
You could even discuss things like, how would they find their way home if they were lost? What if they didn’t have a mobile device or a map to help them? Hopefully they’ll never need it, but one day if they do, they will be able to use the skills learnt to find a way home or seek help.
5. Basic first aid
This is another safety one, but super important. Do your kids know how and when to call 000? If not, talk them through the process. You might need to teach them how to use your smartphone to call emergency services without unlocking the keypad. I did a little experiment a while ago to see what my kids would do if they couldn’t wake me up and it revealed one very crucial detail they didn’t know about. Here’s a great article about the importance of role-playing emergency situations that could save someone one day.
6. Wrap a gift
This might be a simple one, but are you one of those people who just goes ahead and wraps presents for everyone? Why not hand your kids the wrapping paper, sticky tape, and scissors and let them figure it out next time? It could also teach everyone that perfection isn’t always best – taking the care to wrap a gift for someone is the only thing that counts.
7. Use tools
Does your child know how to (safely) hammer a nail into a piece of wood? How about the difference between a flat head and a Phillips head screwdriver? Teach them, show them… who knows, it could lead to your next coffee table!
Your little one may know how to brush their teeth and wash their face, but do they know how to do their hair? If they don’t, teach them how. Show boys how to flatten those sticky-uppy bits at the back of their heads. If your kids have iso Mummy haircuts (like mine) they may need this new skill a little more than others. Teach them how to put their hair up if it’s long enough. My daughter still can’t tie a hair elastic in her own hair. Practice, practice, practice!
When it comes to learnings from a basic life skills list, surely, they know how to write for their school work… But do your kids know how to write a letter? Get them to write to one of their friends and actually SEND the letter. Ask the friend to write back. We’re living in the age of instant gratification, where kids can send a text message and have a response in a matter of seconds, but what about the joys of opening the mail and choosing what to write in a letter? Talk to them about what they want to say and how to structure the word on the page then let the magic begin.
What about journal writing? Google writing exercises for kids and give a few a try. Have you ever heard the phrase “show, don’t tell?” A favourite quote of mine is one by Anton Chekhov:
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” Talk about what that means and how you would describe things without literally spelling them out. Next time you’re out and about, take a few minutes to sit down and describe the scene in writing. It can be beautiful to just stop and watch the world rotate around you.
10. Grocery shopping
Does your child know how to put together a shopping list? How about comparing prices? Teach them to organise their shopping list into the aisles each item belongs in. Use the website of your local supermarket to guide them and even have them put together a mock shopping list based on your next few family meals. It might sound simple, but it’s a skill not many people think to pass on to their kids, and one that will definitely benefit them into their adult years.
This article was first published on KidSpot and republished on theAsianparent with permission.