• It’s absolutely important for children to learn more than just academically
• Life skills education cannot stop with the exposure your child receives in school
In the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, parents have been with their children, offering them an opportunity to know them better.
How independent is your child? Are they able to look after themselves if left alone for a while? Do you think they are well-equipped with essential life skills to face the world?
It’s absolutely important for children to learn more than just academically. Life skill education simply cannot stop with the exposure your child receives in school. To learn its importance, a child needs to be taught at home through experiences and training activities.
Here are some of the skills they need as they grow to adulthood.
Most parents run around doing everything for their children so much so that the child doesn’t get involved in anything. This shouldn’t be the case. Be it putting their school bag together or taking the plate to the kitchen, making their bed or packing their lunch, ensure your child is responsible for their work.
2. Time management
Do this by getting them an alarm clock that they can use to wake up on time for school, instead of you waking them up. Get them a planner to use to track their school work and other extra-curricular activities and to keep track what needs to be done by when. When they do this, they will automatically begin to allow specific amounts of time for play and for work
There are so many important decisions we need to make in our lives such as education, career, life partners etc. It is thus very important to instilling the skill of making appropriate decisions at an early age in your child.
Teach them how to make wise decisions by asking them to choose between activities or games; types of clothes; food items etc. Once this happens, the child will understand the consequences that each decision causes. So guide your child through the process, help them weigh the advantages and disadvantages before they make their decision.
4. Resilience adaptability
How you can do this is by ensuring you don’t feed your child with solutions all the time. Empower kids to solve problems by themselves so that they’re ready to face challenges as and when they arise. This will also help them to adapt to different changes and environments.
Teach them to look at situations from others’ perspectives too. When they come to you about a problem they had with a friend, encourage them to look at the situation that took place from the perspective of others.
Explain why someone is gets sad or angry. This increases their problem-solving abilities and their level of understanding of the people around.
Make sure you have an open channel of communication to understand what your child is going through and help them out – and of course, as a parent, you too must model resilient behaviour at home.
5. How to interact with people
We’ve taught children about stranger danger but this doesn’t make much logic considering many of the people we are now close to as adults was a stranger to us at some point.
Instead, we should teach our children to do exactly what adults do. Teach them to differentiate between good and bad strangers. Teach them how to interact with good strangers and how to make friends.
We meet and engage with strangers everyday. If we don’t teach children this at a young age, they may not develop good social skills.
6 Basic self-defence
In today’s world, safety is of utmost importance, and developing self-defence not only makes the child feel more independent, but also confident.
Most schools these days invest in teaching basic self-defence but if your child’s school does not, don’t hesitate to send them for classes outside.
6. First-aid and the importance of health
You can’t expect to always be around whenever your child gets hurt, a bite or a rash! So how about empowering them such that they are able to take care in case of an emergency until they reach a grown-up?
You can do this by providing a First Aid kit and showing them how it works. On health, instead of forcing your child to eat vegetables, talk to them about health risks in eating junk food all the time and explain how beneficial healthy food is.
8. Managing money and basic budgeting
This is quite a basic among life skills. Give your children a certain amount of pocket money every week or every two weeks that they have to use for their expenses.
So, if they wish to get something a little more expensive, ask them to save up their pocket money to buy it. Or, you can lend them a helping hand by telling them that for every chunk of money they save, you’ll add a certain amount to acquire the item. This will motivate them more.
I think the concept of comparative shopping also comes under the concept of teaching your child about budgeting. Tell them why you choose comparatively cheaper options sometimes. This kind of budgeting training develops a habit in your child to not waste money and to respect its value.
The introduction to the concept of money from the age seven in school through subjects such as Maths does not bring out the importance and relevance of budgeting, planning, saving and the real value of money as they have never handled money in real life.
Opening a bank account for your child, ask them to deposit some money every month (money received as gifts or if they help out in the house with some tasks you could pay them a small amount.) This will inculcate the habit of saving and appreciating money.
9. Cleaning and other household chores
Start small by asking them to keep their room clean, to make their bed, and make sure everything they own is in its right place. You can then ask them to clean the dishes they use after eating.
You can ask them to dust the tables, take the trash out, arrange tables and in doing the laundry.
Involve them in simple cooking. Children can cook, too!
10. Basics of travelling
From learning to ride a cycle to learning how to use public transport, make sure your child knows how to do these things along with routes.
Also each them how to use maps.
These are important skills that your child will need later in life as well as for emergencies.
There are many other skills to teach your children and as parents, we should continue researching and guiding our children as they grow.
Lucy Mugo is a mother and the CEO, Ryma Insurance Agency