Four Forgotten Life Skills

Forgotten Life SkillsKids these days learn a lot of things we didn’t learn when I was in school. This is exactly as it should be, our world changes fast and our education should change just as fast. For instance, when I was in school typing and microwave cooking were actual electives. Our generation of kids have grown up with computers and microwaves, they don’t need a semester worth of classes because they already know how to use them.

Educational evolution is a GOOD thing, but sometimes we miss out on valuable skills that are important to have but because they don’t seem relevant, and because school time is precariously balanced, there just isn’t time to teach these skills in school. Fortunately, as home educators, we are given the time to cover these skills.

What follows is a list of the top “forgotten” skills I think all kids should, at the very least, be familiar with. These skills could one day get them the job, or even save their life.

What would you add to the list? I invite you to comment below or let us know on our Facebook page!

Four Forgotten Skills (and why we should teach them!)

1. Cooking from scratch – I am a huge proponent of having kids in the kitchen. I don’t particularly enjoy cooking with kids but I know it’s important so I try to suck it up a few times a week.

Why is this skill important? When we release our kids into the world they’re going to be responsible for providing for themselves. A kid who can cook is an adult who can save a lot of money! Which leads me to…

2. Budgeting – One of the more important skills a person can learn is how to budget. When I was first married our budget went something like “We make $400/week, how can I spent $400/week?” and unfortunately we often spend $410! We could have saved ourselves a lot of heartache and trouble had we known how to effectively budget.

Budgeting is very important for teens and you can buy curriculum, but it’s even easier (and cheaper!) to sit down with them on your payday and explain how bills are paid, and give them a shot at it. Do this once a month. When they get a job start having them pay for some bills and contribute to gas money if you’re driving them. Teach them about interest and how buying things is fun, but if you buy it on credit you’re paying much more than you should.

Imagine how surprised I was when my daughter signed up for a checking account and the bank told us they no longer gave out check books and registers because it kills trees, and that all the information is online! Well that doesn’t do a person much good if they can’t get an internet signal in the grocery store or if they don’t have a smartphone. Teach your children how to write checks and how to balance a checkbook, even if they have to find a register on the internet and print it. I’m all for saving the environment but not at the sake of overspending or worse yet, overdrafting!

Budgeting isn’t just important for teens though, the earlier you start the better. Begin early by having frank discussions about money and helping them figure out how to best spend the money they get. Here is a great lesson plan from PBSKids that teaches kids how to budget!

3. Map reading is one of those skills that is difficult for a lot of people, but knowing how to read a map is vital. Sure, today we have GPS systems and smart phones and what not but those things take batteries and the last thing you want is to be lost in the middle of nowhere with a dead cell phone. OK, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic, and I know how hard it is to get a paper map these days, but I have been on the highway before without a signal and my GPS has gone radio silent. In the case of GPS, and trust me when I say I couldn’t live without GPS, I believe we’ve let technology become too much of a crutch.

Here’s a fun mapping lesson plan that can easily be adapted to home use.

4. Cursive writing – When it comes to cursive there are actually two very different skills involved, writing and reading. I don’t buy into the “you have to write cursive so you can sign your name” thing, because a lot of people don’t write cursive and can still sign legal documents. I also don’t buy into the “we must write in cursive for form” theory, because we all form our own mishmash writing style that best fits our particular anatomy and agility.

I do, however, feel that knowing how to read cursive is an important lost skill, and to learn to read it you should know how to write it. Not only that, but cursive is fantastic for kids who deal with dysgraphia and similar conditions.

I taught my kids how to write in cursive by using free worksheets and practicing on a Boogie Board.

While I can think of many other forgotten skills that are useful, these are my top 4. Do you agree with my list? What would you add? Let me know by commenting below, visiting our Facebook page, or sending us a tweet!

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