As homeschoolers, we often like to think that our children are better prepared to handle life situations than many of their public school counterparts. After all, they do see us “living life” day after day. But after speaking with many homeschooling moms that wonder if they are allowing their children enough opportunity to truly interact with others, I wonder if we are really preparing them to step into their roles as adults. Are we teaching by example? Or are we too eager to do everything for our children, depriving them the valuable opportunity to learn on their own?
Several years ago, my husband heard a broadcast that stated that a public school had actually taken a field trip to Wal-mart so the students could practice standing in line and making a purchase. We had to chuckle, if that counts as a field trip, we’ve been there and done that too many times to count. But this is no laughing matter. Apparently there are enough children lacking this basic skill that the school district felt it necessary to include such an exercise in their school program.
If those children are unable to make purchases at the store, then how many of those children, or our own children, have no clue how to open a bank account, pump gas or speak with a customer service representative to resolve a problem? Do our homeschooled children have an advantage in this area?
With children that are nearing adulthood, I sometimes wonder how my children measure up in this department. Have I taught my children the necessary life skills that will enable them to be confident and knowledgeable as they make purchases, conduct business and live their day to day life without my aid?
I’ve compiled a list of some of the life skills that have been on my mind lately; in part because of some of the events that we’ve been dealing with in our own home. The following suggestions may give you an idea of where to begin, or continue working on, with your own children.
- Are my children able to create a shopping list, select groceries and cook simple meals on their own? Do they know how to find the best deals?
- Do they have basic sewing skills enabling them to sew on a button and complete simple repairs when needed?
- Are they willing, able and capable to clean the house, including washing laundry and cleaning toilets? Are they aware of the dangers of combining chemicals such as bleach and ammonia?
- Are they comfortable handling their own basic auto maintenance? Do they know how to check and top off their fluids, check tire pressure, change a tire, and pump gas?
- Do they know who to call and what to do in emergency situations? Do they know basic first aid or CPR?
- Do they know how change a mailing address or register with the selective service?
- Do they know where to register to vote? How to vote? Or why it’s important to do so?
- Do they know how to apply for a job? Have they practiced interview skills? Are they able to select proper clothing for an interview?
- Do they know how to open a checking account and how to get the best deal? Is there a monthly fee for the account? Does it pay interest? What is the minimum monthly balance? Does the bank provide checks or a debit card? Does your child know how to use a debit card, track purchases and balance their account?
- Do they know how to create a realistic monthly budget and stick to it?
- What should they look for in a first apartment? What should they know about signing a lease? Who do they contact to turn on utilities?
- What should they look for in buying their first car? What about auto insurance? Or license plates?
- Do they know how and where to have a document notarized?
- Do they know how to use public transportation? How to hail a taxi? Ride a subway? Purchase an airline ticket and find their gate?
- Can they handle their own problems when they arise and work things out on their own?
As a firm believer in hands- on learning, I’ve covered many of the items on the above list by explaining to my children what I’m doing and why in various situations. As my kids have gotten older, I’ve allowed them the opportunity to make purchases, return items, pump gas and make phone calls in my place.
When it was time to renew my drivers’ license, my kids went with me. When it was time for them to get their drivers’ license, I allowed them to do all the talking but I was there if they needed me. When my son applied for his first job, he filled out all the applications but I was available if he had a question. When my older son opened his checking account, he preferred to do it by himself. Before he left the house we talked about some of the information he would need, made sure he had the documents that were required and away he went. If he needed me, I was only a phone call away.
As my children grow, I want them to be capable, confident adults. I also want them to know that if they ever need us, their father and I are only a phone call away.
What are some of the life skills that you consider essential for your children to know before they leave home?
When Tonya isn’t attempting to teach her kids all they need to know before they leave home, she’s blogging about the fun, family friendly and educational destinations that her family visits at The Traveling Praters.