Homeschooling, life skills

J and I decided with the new year to introduce a new section to our homeschooling curriculum. Once a month, on the first of each month, we will skip regular school lessons and, instead, focus on one particular thing we think adults need to know. Things that a person can somehow miss, unless they are specifically told.

January’s lesson was Household plumbing. I took the kids on a tour of the basement, pointing out shut-off valves, water heater relief valves, and explaining how the water flows. We also talked about toilet tanks and how they can be tweaked to work better. If the house starts flooding while no adults are home, I hope my kids can make a mad dash for the basement and torque the main valve shut.

February’s lesson was answering the question, “what the heck to adults spend all that money on?” We talked about housing, insurance, taxes, maintenance, groceries, cars, and all them myriad things that come out of a monthly budget. The children were a little bit wide-eyed by the end.

We’re making a list of future topics. Things we want to spend some time making sure we have told the kids. There’s a lot of stuff that a person needs to know when they are in college or just after.

How to do laundry: separating colors, stains, laundromats, public laundry etiquette.
Renting an apartment: rent, utilities, landlords, what to look for in terms of safety and reliability.
Buying a car: auto loans, used vs. new, maintenance and insurance costs, how to talk to salespeople
Getting a job: contacts, resumes, interviews, clothes
Credit cards: how they are a trap of monumental proportions, how to use them safely and cautiously.

There’s more, of course. This is what we came up with in ten minutes.

What do you wish someone had told you before you were faced with it as a young adult? What life skills are you certain every young person should know?


7 Responses

  1. I am glad that you are covering credit cards. I would say something about pets, what kind of lifestyle choices one would make might influence what kinds of pets to get. Room mates. Cars – maintenance and repairs. Discretionary spending, movies, meals out, entertainment, purchasing of all of the things…including books. Relationships and making the decision to share domestic space.

  2. How to recognize the warning signs that someone is being dishonest or manipulative. This is a pattern recognition skill. That means a person has to have seen the pattern before. I noticed the behavior but filed it under “people are weird”. It would also have been helpful to have some strategies to double-check what was going on in an unfamiliar social situation.

  3. Budgeting. How to make sure you cover the important things, and ‘fun stuff’ is important. Rainy day funds.
    Cooking. Stocking a pantry.
    Buy vs. lease: cars, homes.
    Retirement/future planning (goes along with budgeting, above). The power of compound interest.

  4. Making phone calls to deal with things like health insurance coverage. How to talk to customer service people. How to talk to doctors. How to self-motivate. Taxes.

  5. Those are all fantastic suggestions!

  6. How to talk to a doctor.
    How to talk to someone providing a service.

    How to signal competence.
    Basic tool use. (& following directions to assemble something).
    Planning a garden.
    Who, when & how much to tip.
    Comparison shopping.

  7. Job interview talk with a six year old was “if I asked you to move rocks in the yard for $5, is that enough information to decide if you want to do that job?”

    What I wish I’d known more about is the flip side of “what the heck to adults spend all that money on?” = how much do you make. What kind of salaries go with hypothetical jobs, and how much do you bring home after taxes and insurance? And wow, how much would a student loan of $40K take out of that?

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