There’s little argument over the lack of life skills that many public high school graduates possess. It’s sad, and discouraging to think about, really. There is often debate over whose job it is to teach skills related to finances, cooking, car maintenance, and insurance (among others). Is it the teacher’s job or the parents? When homeschooling, the job falls to the one person who is both! This is the purpose of parenting, to equip our children to be successful and independent members of society. So, what life skills do you want to ensure your child has upon graduation?
Finances are one of the most important areas for students to have a healthy and functional understanding. They need to know how to open a bank account, use a savings account, and manage a budget. Many young adults don’t realize the power they have to impact the security of their retirement if they start young enough. But this takes discipline. I’m a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for Teens. This program guides young adults into understanding the power of money, the importance of budgeting and saving, and how to invest in their future wisely. There’s also a program for kids, and I believe that the earlier they start practicing good habits, the more likely they are to be successful with money later in life. In this category I would also put paying bills on time. This is so important for money management. They need to understand how to manage all of their bills, and know how and when they are paid.
Along with budgeting money, budgeting time is equally important. Being able to accommodate work, school, and “play” time will help them grow into a balanced and responsible adult. Young adults need to be able to recognize when they are over-committed, or not fulfilling their responsibilities. Showing up on time is a challenge for some that requires intentional effort.
Insurance is still a confusing muddle to me sometimes. I understand enough to know that I need it, and what I need it for. This is the minimum that we want for our children, too! They need to understand what insurance does, where to get it, how to shop around, and how and when to file a claim.
Basic car maintenance is no longer just for boys! Empower all young drivers to understand what they need to do to maintain their vehicle through oil changes, and checking brakes and tires. Who do they call when they are locked out? What do you do when you blow a tire on the highway? We can’t possibly prepare them for every different scenario they may experience, but we can give them the ability and confidence to work through it.
The last one I’m going to touch on is certainly not the last life skill they need, but if they can do these five things, they will have a great start at adult-hood! Cooking, more than just boiling a pot of water for macaroni, or slathering peanut butter and jelly on some bread. Basic meal planning and grocery shopping (on a budget!) is great way to cut down on unnecessary spending on eating out. Nutrition is a bonus topic to throw in there. Understanding how food fuels our body, may encourage them to make healthy choices on their own.
There are an infinite number of things that we want our kids to know before venturing out on their own. But if they can handle these five things, they will be off to a great start. One of the most wonderful things about homeschooling is that you have the opportunity to instill these concepts early on, and encourage them to practice them in preparation for life outside Mom and Dad’s house!