With kids back in school their focus is often on passing their math final, or English test – but what about a test for everyday life skills?
In the past, Home Economic classes where the norm, but the quality and existence of them are dwindling with time. These classes taught many of the skills needed to live a self-sustaining lifestyle.
Over the past few decades many of us have lost touch with those basic skills and principles that were once taught in high school home economics programs around the country, says Karen Leonas
Leonas has seen students who don’t know the essentials—like balancing a check book or sewing on a button. Recovering home economics skills may be valuable in surviving the current economic situation, says Leonas. (Whatever Happened to Home Economics?)
The Importance of Life Skills
So is it important to teach home economics (or life skills) to students, or is it a thing of the past?
I know many of my friends are choosing the homeschooling route, primarily because they believe teaching their children practical life skills is a critical part of education. They are not alone in this thinking either; other countries are recognizing the importance of such classes…
The Japanese—along with other countries such as Finland and South Korea where children are excelling in math, science and language arts—understand that in addition to teaching children math, reading and science, they also need to teach home economics and other practical life skills. (Who Says Home-ec Isn’t a Core Subject?)
Children are absolutely brilliant these days, and can do things far beyond what I did at their age, but are we doing them a favor by skipping teaching them the fundamental basics of everyday living? They may be a master at arithmetic and art, but can they change a tire, or sew on a button?
Can we really consider ourselves prepared for life beyond Hockaday when many of us cannot even cook an adequate meal for ourselves?
But a “Life Skills” or “Independent Living” course would in no way perpetuate this stereotype; it would fill in a major gap in the Hockaday education; it would go beyond cooking and cleaning to paying taxes, balancing checkbooks, basic car maintenance, skills that every woman—as well as every man—requires to live a self-sufficient lifestyle. (Home Economics vs Feminis – An Uneasy Union)
I think it’s extremely important to teach our children life skills – not only does it give them confidence to eventually be on their own, but it teaches them to be more self-reliant.
Think about it. If you don’t teach these skills to your kids, or find someone else to do the teaching, then who will?
A Life Skills Test for Kids
Here’s a basic life skills test to see how much your kids know about everyday living. In no way is this a complete list of all the things they need to know or should know, that is up to you – the parent!
See which of the following your child can do…
- create a shopping list
- select groceries
- find the best deals
- use a microwave
- read nutrition labels and know what’s good and what’s not
- prepare, serve and store food to avoid spoilage
- cook a well-balanced meal
- know which kitchen tools and equipment to use for which tasks
- make a weekly or monthly budget and stick to it
- use an ATM
- open, use and balance a checking account
- apply for a credit card and use it responsibly
- save up to buy a desired item
- set aside money for charity
- keep track of important papers
- how to use a debit card
- track purchases
- pay monthly bills, including utilities
- complete simple repairs when needed
- sew on a button
- mend a seam
- iron garments
- fold and put away clothing
- follow fabric-care labels
- do laundry, including treating simple stains
- wash and dry items by hand
- fold clothes
- pack a suitcase
- able to clean the house
- clean toilets
- find the circuit breaker and use it
- locate and use water and furnace shutoffs
- use a fire extinguisher
- perform basic first aid
- fix a running toilet
- do laundry, including treating simple stains
- use all household appliances, like loading the dishwasher the right way
- basic auto maintenance
- check tire pressure
- pump gas
- check oil level and add oil if needed
- check washer fluid and add more if necessary
- arrange routine maintenance
- jump-start car
- change tire
- add air to tires
- produce documents if stopped by police
- know what to look for in buying their first car
Other Life Skills
- change a mailing address
- register to vote
- how to vote
- who to call and what to do in emergency situations
- basic first aid or CPR
- how to apply for a job
- interview skills
- how to select proper clothing for an interview
- what to look for in a first apartment
- who to contact to turn on utilities
- where to have a document notarized
- how to use public transportation
And the most important Life Skill of all (at least if you don’t want your kids still living at home when they are 30) is…
- Can they handle their own problems when they arise and work things out on their own?
How did your child do?
Here is a great resource with numerous ways you can teach your kids the life skills they probably are not learning at school – Teach Your Kids About… Home Ec
Guest post by Jamie Smith.