The curriculum is already crowded and there are days that as a teacher, I just want to teach the basics and not feel like I am rushing through things because I have a check list. I can confidently say, I am not the only teacher who feels this. When I was a graduate, we certainly weren’t bombarded with added extras in our curriculum, we actually had time to teach. Academics and technology in the classroom shouldn’t be the sole focus however it does seem that way at times. Our kids need to be taught life skills.
Grappling with the fact that my 14 year old daughter has flown to China for five weeks with her school, I knew when she started secondary school that she needed to learn a few life skills that would make this experience a little easier. Clearly my clothes washing lessons and separating whites from dark's fell on deaf ears as she now has a blue school top which was white! Her school did an amazing job in preparing them for living in a foreign country, speaking the language, understanding the culture and most importantly, respecting it.
As parents, we do a lot for our kids when really, our aim as parents is to become redundant! My kids started unpacking their school bags at an early age and making their beds (as best as they could.) Both can cook a couple of basic meals but that’s because we like to cook. There are lots of kids that don’t know how to for different reasons but we do need to bring back Food Technology or Home Economics as it was called when I went to school. Some secondary schools offer it but I think it is one of those life skills our kids need when they eventually leave home, or if are still at home by age 25, they can cook for you! It’s not just cooking but nutrition too.
Other life skills that our kids need to learn or at least exposing to, include being able to ask for assistance when buying something from a shop, shopping with actual money, not a card, when the age is right, using an ATM card and the responsibilities that come with that. Going shopping and knowing what individual fruit and vegetables are, catching public transport and knowing what to do if they feel unsafe, making smart choices and with that comes problem solving. I think the notion of helicopter parenting has really become quite damaging to our kids because they don’t have the freedom because society is so different now and not always safe as opposed to when I grew up. But wrapping our kids in cotton wool and not teaching them how to function in life, is actually doing more harm than good in the long run. Teach them strategies and have expectations in place when they are travelling to and from school or a friend’s house for example. With that, comes trust which is often the hardest to gain but so very easy to lose.
As parents, we can influence our kids and teach them so many life skills by allowing them and having an expectation of them to do different things around the home. Spend the time to teach them to cook, put on a load of washing and hang it out, use a vacuum cleaner and all those other chores we take for granted and just do for our kids. After all, how did you learn them?