As dedicated homeschooling parents, your goal is to ensure your kids receive a well-balanced education. As loving parents, you look beyond academics. You strive to equip your kids with the essential life skills they’ll need to grow and mature into thriving, independent adults. Thankfully, homeschooling gives you the freedom to incorporate practical life skills lessons into your homeschool program.
Basic Life Skills
Start with the basics like cooking and cleaning when your kids are young. Young children have a natural curiosity and practically leap at the chance to help Mom and Dad with day-to-day jobs around the house such as folding laundry, washing windows, and cleaning pretty much anything. Keep that momentum going by showing your kids how to do more complex tasks such as separating laundry and removing stains, loading the dishwasher, sorting recyclables, how to measure liquid and dry ingredients, and prepping and cooking their favorite simple meals and desserts.
Knowing what to do in the event of an emergency is one of the most important life skills your kids should master. There are age-appropriate videos on YouTube you can watch with your kids that help explain what constitutes an emergency and tutorials that walk your child through the process of calling 911.
What about fire safety? Gather your family together and create an emergency escape plan, draw it on a sheet of graph paper, and hang it up in a central location. Then practice, practice, practice, and stage random fire drills. Talk about fire safety around the campfire. Demonstrate how to put out cooking fires.
Assembling a first aid kit is a great family activity. I suggest downloading a checklist to be sure you include everything you need and let your kids check off each item. Fellow homeschool mom and certified RN Ashley Greenhalgh believes the best way to teach first aid is through hands-on experiences. Read her helpful teaching guide on her website, Run Wild My Child.
Money Management and Investing
Show your kids how to be money savvy. Demonstrate how to set up a budget and how to stay within the parameters. Open up bank accounts for your children and show them how to keep track of their saving and spending on a spreadsheet. Debit card use should be supervised until they’re ready.
Introduce saving money by modeling it. Show them how your savings builds up, how to comparison shop, and explain why impulse buying should always be avoided.
If you need a little help, “Money Matters for Kids” by Larry Burkett is a great resource to read with your kids. There’s also a teen version.
Discuss the pros and cons of investing money, and encourage your teens to read “TeenVestor” by Emmanuel Modu and Andrea Walker.
There’s always something in need of repair, right? Well, enlisting the help of your kids just makes good sense. They’re learning, you’re spending quality time together, and you get to check off another item on your to-do list.
Always stress safety first. Consider purchasing child-sized tools and a tool belt for your special apprentice. Then show your kids how to properly use tools and invite them to help with simple repairs and work up to the more complex ones. Check out Heidi Cirvola’s website, Starts At Eight, for a handy resource list of easy, mid-level, and experienced home repair and woodworking projects.
Tips for Incorporating Practical Life Skills Into Your Homeschool
Let your child’s interests lead the way. My kids were fascinated with thunderstorms and hurricanes, so I ordered a free weather kit chock full of weather pattern booklets, hurricane tracking graphs, and activity and coloring pages. Thus began an entire unit study on severe weather.
Learn together. I took typing in high school, but we didn’t learn the number keys. So when my kids were learning keyboarding skills, I joined in. Oh, the laughter when my fingers got tangled up.
Plan well. Make a list of the life skills you’d like to work on during the school year, then add each skill to your planner in the desired time slots.
Take advantage of mentors. A nearby retiree with free time might love to teach a cooking, auto maintenance, or entrepreneurship class.
Practical Life Skills Count as School Work
Each life skill can equal a class or elective, and all ages can definitely benefit. High schoolers will need to log at least 60 hours for a half-credit course and 120 hours for a one-credit course. Kids can read books, explore interactive websites, and work on projects. Then talk with them about what they’ve learned.
To document classes, write up a short class description, list of resources used, photos and descriptions of projects, hours logged, and assign a grade if applicable.
Teaching your kids essential life skills is the practical side of homeschooling, but the heart of these lessons is empowerment. Kids who feel empowered are motivated to be the best they can be and have a big head start when they get out into the real world.
Teaching Children How to Call 911: Verizon.com/support/teach-kids-how-to-dial-911
Learn About 9-1-1 with Emergency Ernie: bit.ly/3mYS0jq
First Aid Kit Checklist: Household-Management-101.com/support-files/first-aid-kit-checklist.pdf
How to Teach Basic First Aid to Kids: RunWildMyChild.com/teaching-first-aid
Teaching Your Kids Emergency Preparedness: StateFarm.com/simple-insights/family/teaching-your-kids-emergency-preparedness
Money Management and Investing
15 Ways to Teach Kids About Money: RamSeysolutions.com/relationships/how-to-teach-kids-about-money
Money Education for Kids: A2ZHomeschooling.com/explore/math/money_education_kids
Online Games and Apps That Teach Kids About Money: dfi.wa.gov/financial-education/educators/online-games-and-apps