The Well-Rounded Kid: 7 Life Skills We Should Have in Our Schools

Education should go well beyond math and science: it should help our children become self-possessed and prepared human beings.

When you hear the term “life skills” you might be thinking, but that’s my job as the parent. We are in charge of imparting shoe tying and teaching manners, right? It goes without saying that aside from keeping them clothed and fed, our main job is to make sure they understand how to be good people and function in this world.

But it’s important to draw back and look at our sense of what our jobs are as parents vs. what we think they should learn in school, and look at it from a cultural perspective. Since the post WWII years of the GI bill and a booming economy, the American nuclear family became increasingly insular with the understanding that mom was home raising the kids. Therefore, it was Mom’s job to teach daughters to cook and little boys how to manage their anger.

A lot has changed. We realize collectively that school is and should be a place where children can express all sides of their personhood, and may be the best place to learn about tricky subjects like sex education. And yet, while data is in on this and society at large acknowledges it, our schools lack so many of the crucial pieces that help to build a meaningful, productive life. As parents and advocates for all of the children of this nation, these are the life skills we need to push for in our schools:

 

  1. How to manage a household. Home economics classes are all but gone, but those skills are not simply about making a pot roast – it could be lifesaving! Everybody has to keep their house clean, their clothes washed and food in their mouths, not to mention what to do if there is a kitchen fire, or how to install a carbon monoxide detector. And what about basic home repair skills, like unclogging a toilet or knowing how a water heater works? Household skills would allow our kids to learn some great tricks and be more self-sufficient.
  1. How to manage your money. Why don’t our kids learn how to balance a checkbook or do their tax returns in school? Most of us hate managing money but that is only because we never learned how, and sadly, many of us will get to retirement age with no savings as a result. So what is a solid investment vs. a get rich scheme? What’s an IRA? How do you stay out of credit card debt? Our kids should know!
  2. Time management. Again, one of the most valuable skills in this modern era and we don’t offer it to our kids. We all know a child who excelled in high school but floundered in college. That young adult never learned how to manage time – and most people still don’t. At its core, productivity is essentially an issue of time management. In lieu of putting in on the table at your next PTO meeting, try checking out your local YMCA for Time Management classes for kids.
  1. Mental hygiene. Schools place a ton of importance on athletic programs, but taking care of its students’ mental health is often not even explored, despite mental health issues effecting millions of kids each year. Kids really benefit from basic neurological anatomy, or knowing which parts of the brain control our actions, and linking that to feelings like anger, sadness, or even lack of concentration. Meditation and yoga are easy and cheap ways for our kids to start labeling and addressing their own behaviors too. Whether it’s homework stress, burnout or crippling depression, we all have our lows and our anxieties, but there are tools we can teach our kids so that they can manage and bounce back.
  1. How to live green. We have to do away with practices that treat the earth as an infinite resource and that means everything from recycling our electronics to being mindful of what we put down the drain. As the environment transforms before our eyes, every human must do his/her part to save the planet. For more on this, check out our past Earth Days posts here (insert link)
  1. How to communicate. Learning the value of engagement is pretty much a universally applicable skill, but aside from Speech & Debate, most kids never learn the basis of conversation:
  • Sender – Creates and sends the message
  • Receiver – Responds to the message
  • Message – The information that the sender wants to communicate.
  • Feedback – How the receiver shows she or he has understood the message, like repeating it or by asking a follow-up question
  • This is critical because most of us know how to talk, but kids often don’t understand body language and active listening. When they do, they perform better in school and on the job market.
  1. How to build and maintain a relationship. This seems like a weird one but it fits into the above piece, and since our divorce rate is close to 50% in our country, we might consider taking a more radical approach to instructing our kids on what it means to form friendships and commit a partner. We are, after all, mammals –built to interact, connect and partner.

 

Imagine the generation of children that would emerge from a school system that fostered this kind of growth. We must insist as a community and a country, that our children get the type of nurturing life skills that will create responsible, happy, talented adults in the future.

 

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

One Response to The Well-Rounded Kid: 7 Life Skills We Should Have in Our Schools

  1. This is great information!!

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