Sometime during middle school it will hit you – your child is actually going to grow up and live on his own somewhere in just a few short years. It’s a strange feeling when it hits you the first time. And, depending on how things work in your house, you will find yourself more and more frequently thinking “How in the world will he survive if he cannot even manage to ___________?” Exactly. Take advantage of the time you have now to teach your child the things he’ll need to know once he’s out in the big, bad world. Make it part of your homeschool – you can call it Home Economics, Automobile 101, Cooking/Baking 101, etc. Below is a list of things I used/am using with my own sons. I have also added a couple of things I wish I had covered when they were home. If nothing else, it’s a starting point for you. Let us know what you would add or subtract!
- Cooking – No one wants to send a young adult into the world whose cooking skills are comprised of pouring milk on cereal, heating things in the microwave and possibly fixing boxed mac and cheese. And, yet, it happens. My son’s first college roommate (smart, engineering student) was absolutely stunned when I made popcorn while he was visiting. He did not know you could make popcorn outside of the microwave! Aim higher for your kids. Starting in middle school, each of my sons was responsible for either making lunch or dinner one day a week. I also incorporated Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here for the Food into our school days. It covers all basic methods of cooking and explains how and why certain methods are better for certain foods. You can use any basic cookbook as a guide for your own class. It’s fun! And, it’s nice not to have to worry if your child is going to come home for Christmas with orange skin from all the mac and cheese.
- Money – Money can be a touchy subject. But, it’s one that kids need to know and understand well before they’re off on their own. With our kids we used a combination of real life examples and a homeschool program by Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey has a decidedly Christian perspective but his methods are effective for anyone.
- Home Maintenance – Do your children know how to shut the main water off? Gas? Go room by room with your children (over time) and teach them how to do the basics – fix a leaky toilet, patch nail holes in a wall, paint a room, clean each room and all the other things they have previously never given thought to. Get in the habit of enlisting them to help or do a job when something comes up. Yes, it can be painful to watch them learn, but well worth it in the end.
- Cars 101 – In middle school, start teaching your kids the basics about cars. If you don’t know the basics about cars, it’s time to teach yourself! (For moms, I highly recommend the Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide.) Teach kids how to:
- Check tire pressure
- Know what the lights on the dashboard mean
- Change a fuse
- Add fluids – anti-freeze, wiper fluid
- Check and change the oil
- Pump gas
- Prepare an auto emergency kit
- Health 101 – Most homeschoolers cover health over the years. However, as your child enters his teens, have him start taking charge of his own medical care. Have him make appointments (let your dr./dentist office know you’re doing this), have him talk to the health care provider, have him fill out forms and learn his medical history. Once he’s 18, the doctor will not talk to you! Know that he knows how to ask questions and take charge before then.
- Clothing – everyone should know a few things about clothing!
These are my top six. What are yours?
Want more? Check out this book “Life Skills” that gives you 225 ways to teach life skills to your children.
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