It’s that time again … back-to-homeschool planning. Our family is making plans for which curriculum for each subject to use for each child, electives to add for our new high school student and making sure it fits with each kids’ learning style. Field trips, co-ops, sports, and other activities need to be decided on and planned for, too. Another factor in planning for the upcoming year is being sure to add life skills into the mix. But why do we need life skills and how do we add them?
Life skills are not just washing dishes, doing laundry and mowing the lawn. These skills also include dealing with people, managing money, being kind and telling the truth. As homeschoolers we have the opportunity to incorporate teaching value, character, activity and other non-academic skills not only as everyday life but also into lessons, as mentioned in THIS post. We can be sure that our kids are well prepared for real life as adults. We can add life skill lessons just as we do academic lessons but also teach them by example. There are a few steps you can follow to make adding life skills easier.
- Evaluate Skills
- Decide Which Skills
- Determine How
- Add to Vision/Mission Statement
Just like evaluating and then planning our kids’ academic skills we should do the same for life skills. I like to think about what chores, tasks and activities I remember doing at my children’s ages. I also think about what character skills I might have had and what I think my kids should be capable of understanding at their ages. There are also a few questions to ask when evaluating:
- Did you have a plan for life skills last year?
- Did you follow the plan?
- How did the plan work?
- What was the best part of the plan?
- What was the worst part of the plan?
- Will you be using the same or similar plan this year?
- Is there anything that still needs to be worked on from last year?
- What skills do the kids already know how to do?
- What skills can they improve on?
- What character skills/traits can they improve on?
- Are there age appropriate skills they should be capable of but aren’t?
- Are there skills that you’d like them to have that they do not yet?
After answering the above questions we have a list of what the kids know and an idea of where they should be going.
For help in finding age appropriate skills here are few links to check out:
- Focus on the Family – Teaching Kids Life Skills
- Parenting – 12 Basic Life Skills Every Child Should Know Before High School
- Thrifty Handmade Days – Guideline for Practical Life Skills for Kids
Decide Which Skills
After evaluating where the kids currently are, we need to decide what they should learn next. When looking at what to do next consider age appropriate skills that they don’t already know. There are value and character based skills that you can think about along with activity based skills. Also think about why you want to include that particular skill. Make a list of the skills you’re considering, why you think it is important to include, and why it is appropriate for that child. Take time to go over the list to narrow it down to what is really important to you for the upcoming year.
Now that you’ve decided what life skills to include you need to determine how you will teach the skills. Think about each skill and consider:
- Do they need to know other skills before hand?
- What is the objective or end result of learning this particular skill?
- Do you know how you’d like to teach the skill – by example (as mentioned in THIS post), by lessons or a combination of both?
- Do lesson plans already exist that you could use?
- Can you break down the skill into steps?
- Can you make it fit with the style or method of learning and teaching?
- How long with the skill take to learn?
Thinking about each skill and answering the above questions can help you hone in on how you will teach it. You can group multiple skills into a unit study. Focusing on a set of skills to teach by example can also be done. Making a chore chart and helping with the chore until they are doing it to your satisfaction is another way to teach life skills. Formal lessons can also be added as electives for some life skills. Take your time to decide what will work for you and your kids, just like with academic skills.
Each year I create a mission statement to help keep me on track with our homeschool. I look at it for direction, especially when we are having a rough day (or week, or even month). Our mission statement is developed using five basic questions:
- What values do I want to instill in my children and will it influence how we learn?
- What life skills do I want my children to work on this year?
- Is it important to include our religious beliefs and view of the world as part of our learning?
- What do we want the final outcome of our homeschooling journey to be?
- What one thing is most important about learning for us?
The reasons why we homeschool should keep us motivated. They should help us focus on what is important. They should take into consideration the long term benefits we want to receive from homeschooling our kids. Once I have a finished statement I print it out, laminate it and have it as the front sheet in my school binder. I include the value, character and activity based life skills we will be working on in our mission statement to remind me what we are working on and why.
Do you include life skills, whether character based or activity based, in your homeschool? I’d love to hear how you incorporate them in the comments below. Also, don’t forget to sign-up for the Homeschooling With Tea Newsletter.