As parents we try to give our children a solid educational experience. We want them to "succeed" in life. Education can not only be reading, writing, and arithmetic but should include basic life skills. Not all learning comes from a book, but rather naturally through everyday interactions and problems solving.
I'm going to share with you our family "goals before graduation."
My advise...start when they are young!
1. Make a Meal
Learning to cook will help you understand world cultures, customs and flavors. You will also learn life skills like eating healthy, budgeting your money, and cleaning. Save some cash. ... spending money on pre-packaged meals gets too expensive for a someone on a budget. Although I may do most of the cooking I always have a teen helping
me. Some of our children are natural born "food creators," while others stick with the basics.
2. Do Laundry
I was shocked at how many of my college friends had NO idea how to use a washing machine! (My hubby included) From the time my little ones can stand and hold onto the dryer they help me "unload" (actually more ends up on the floor). The younger children learn to separate into colors and fold laundry. In our house, when you turn 12, you start washing your own clothes.
3. Wake Themselves Up On Time
This is huge! I'm not going to call my adult children to wake up and get to work. Therefore, all our children have alarm clocks. They are required to set their own clocks, get up and get their morning chores completed, make and eat their breakfast and report to the living room at 9:30 for morning devotions and prayer.
4. Basic Auto Care
My hubby has taught all of our children how to pump gas, change the oil, and basic car care. I'll admit, my boys gravitate more towards this training but we think the girls needs basic knowledge.
5. See a Need and Try to Meet the Need
In our large family this is a survival technique. We want our children to look beyond their own needs and help care for each other. For example, Caleb will check the oil in Elizabeth's car while she is cooking dinner. Learning to serve others is a learned skill that requires practice.
6. Advocate For Themselves
No high school student wants his mommy to come to school for him and "solve the issue." Our children need to learn to speak out for themselves and learn to solve problems. We have our kids contact their sports coaches for clarification, approach their employers in regards to scheduling issues, and deal with sibling rivalry without my interference. This is adulting!
7. Pack Their Own Bags
With this large tribe there is NO way I could possible pack everyone's bag for a trip. NOPE. They each get a duffle bag and a clear explanation (In my type A personality style...with great detail) what they SHOULD pack. But ultimately, if they don't have enough underwear that's their own problem. And yes, it has happened.
8. Order Their Own Food
I am surprised at how many teens have no idea how to order from a menu. When we eat out we give each child a spending limit...such as "order whatever you want that's under $15...and drink water." My kids take food seriously, so they learned to order from the menu as soon as they could speak!
9. Go Grocery Shopping
We often send our teens to the store to pick up various items. As soon as our girls are old enough they will help make a grocery list. They often pick meals they love to make and are required to meal plan within our budget. As they get older they usually take over all my shopping. This is preparing them to run their own household one day.
10. Basic First Aid and CPR
As a nurse I feel that this should be a high school graduation requirement! Since I'm not one to run to the doctors, unless death is approaching, my children have learned many home remedies, understand the basics of health care, have applied their own bandages, and ALL have completed a CPR course.
11. Time Management
Time management is a skill that we all need. By allowing teens to work a job is one of the best ways to teach time management. They must learn how to balance school work, soccer practice, chores, church, and a part time job. This has come easily for some while others have needed MUCH guidance. But, eventually they all have learned to wisely manage their time.
12. How to Find a Job
Learning how to fill out a job application, write a resume, and give a good interview are learned skills. They must learn to emphasize their strengths and speak clearly with confidence. They are always so proud when they land their first job!
13. Talk to A Stranger
I know we have told our children NEVER to speak to strangers. But as they get older they need to learn to discern the "creepy" people that come their way.
14. How to Handle Failure
If all our children ever know is success as a child, how will they handle failure as an adult (and we all fail sometimes)? You will not always win every game, you cannot always go first, and you need to learn to share.
Recently, Caleb wanted to fix his truck. My husband recommended taking it to a mechanic as it was not going to be an easy job. But Caleb insisted that he could do it himself....and since it was his money and his truck we told him to go for it. I also told him that it would be ok to fail. Why? Because most of the lessons I've learned in life have been through failing and having to try again. By the way, Caleb fixed his truck!
15. How to Pray
Your children need to hear you pray, see others pray and experience family prayer. Our children have gathered around for family devotions and prayer since their birth. They have joined us as we have prayed for much needed finances, healing miracles, and even for a home. They offer their own prayer requests....college scholarships, a better paying job, and even to pass that Chemistry test. Even though we pray as a family we have encouraged our children to have their own prayer life...a time when they can commune with the Lord.
There is so much more...like child care, basic household chores, and how to take public transportation. We would have never made it through Europe without our techy teens!
Let's not forget basic house repairs....flooring, painting and general plumbing. These are skills that will benefit them throughout life.
Teens yearn for us to treat them as adults. So why not train them to BE an adult. Placing more responsibility on our teens allows them to mature, learn strategies for problem solving, and requires critical thinking skills....all of which are much needed life skills.