Essential Skills

March 16, 2007



I came across an article on the top 5 things that should be taught in every school. Kay & I pay $$$ to give our kids top-notch education, but even with them, if they are learning any of these things I bet it is mostly accidental. What could we do, I wonder, to impart these things intentionally? They certainly wouldn’t sit through anything that looked like a “family seminar featuring your parents talking at you”. Any ideas?

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Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

3 responses to Essential Skills

  1. Great article!
    You might expect a homeschooler to have some ideas 😉
    Personal Finance: Borrow or buy the board game Cashflow (Jon, you know this one, don’t you?) It’s a fun game to play and teaches kids and adults how to use an income statement (budgets) and a balance sheet and how to evaluate different investment opportunities. It also gets them used to thinking about saving and investing rather than spending on immediate gratification.
    Communicating Effectively and Sales: Join a Debate Club or a Speech club: If your school doesn’t have one, look for a homeschooler debate club. It can be about the same as having your child on a competitive sports team in terms of commitment, but it also depends on the club. Debate teaches organized thinking, presentation and communication skills, and improvisation. Speech events vary, but all give great experience in speaking persuasively or for effective communication.
    Social Skills: This is the first question I’m asked in any conversation about homeschooling. In my experience my faith community is the biggest help here. Not only do my children have regular contact with people of all ages and social situations, but they are also learning the most important social skill of all: love.
    Time Management: My kids have to manage their own time every day. There are no classes to tell them when to start and stop. And we make sure there are consequences for not having their schoolwork done (no screen time until its done). Let their own mismanagement have consequences in their lives (age appropriate of course). If they make bad choices, they narrow their future possibilities. Make the feedback loops short and you’ll be giving them lots of opportunities to learn effective vs ineffective time management. And when they get frustrated, they’ll be a bit more interested in what ole Dad has to say about how to organize their time. But don’t let them get too frustrated or they’ll be too gripped by their bad mood to be able to learn.
    Health: Eat together as a family as often as possible and model good health habits. Sorry, nothing fancy here.
    I know my view is considered extreme, but asking schools to teach these things is misguided. These basic life skills do not require educational specialists. They require parents.

  2. My mom taught me these by tough love.
    I was given a certain amount of money for clothes and as an allowance and told we didn’t have any more. I had to spend wisely if I wanted to get what I needed. Also, I was given my lunch money at the beginning of the week before my mom left for the week and I had to make it last. If I spent it on something else, I went hungry.
    Time management was deadlines set constantly, but no supervision. If I did not complete my task on time, I would not get my reward.
    Social skills. No mom around to plan everything for me, no one telling me what to do all the time… I figured out how to please other people’s parents pretty quickly into feeding me.
    Listening and salesmanship: my mom told me something *ONCE*. If I did not listen, I was up a creek. Again, no cookie. Sadly, this also means i have no patience because I really only want to tell people things once…
    Not saying that is the best way, but I feel like i learned all of those things.
    What I find horrifying these days is the parents micromanaging their kids in oblivion. They have them in every activity under the sun and are always in their business. What we came up with is a bunch of people who are reaching adulthood that can’t think or do anything for themselves. My cousin is a great example. She has no street smarts at all. People think that coddling their kids means they are good parents. I think that makes them bad ones. We ran willy nilly in the streets all day and we turned out pretty ok.
    Giving your kids responsibility for things and for themselves is the best way to teach them to be good adults in my opinion.

  3. Love it — thanks for your thoughtful replies. (And Jor, back from the dead!)
    Kay & I occasionally reflect on how our job as parents is to raise adults.