Most schools do a great job of teaching algebra, the parts of a cell, and which countries fought with the Allies in World War II. But there are a lot of important skills that schools don’t cover, and many are essential to navigating the world as an adult. This leaves parents to teach ‘adulting’ to a generation that is incredibly tech-savvy but may not know how to mail a letter, sew a button, or cook pasta.
Fortunately, there are fun ways to impart these life lessons and you can connect many of them to things your kids are learning in school. Budgeting is all about math. Stain removal is closely connected with chemistry. Making connections between what’s in their textbooks and practical uses for those lessons can help your kids get better grades and be more competent as adults.
Kids need to be taught things like grocery shopping and cooking, keeping track of personal finances, performing basic first aid in emergencies, cleaning and maintaining a home, having face-to-face conversations, understanding laws and contracts (such as a rental agreement or insurance contract), maintaining an automobile, writing a résumé and cover letter, and many other basic skills.
The answer is simple: because your children will need these life skills when they grow up. Though we sometimes hate to think about it, there will be a day when we can no longer take care of everything for our kids, and they’ll have to deal with responsibilities on their own. Instilling life skills in your kids when they’re young is very important.
There is an infinite number of fun things you and your kids can do to help them become better adults. Here are a few:
- Practice cooking: Teaching your kids to make a meal can be as fun as it is important. For example, if you’re cooking pasta, experiment with what adding different substances – oil, salt, spices – to the water will do to your noodles. Pay attention to how the starches and proteins in the pasta interact, making your noodles sticky or springy. Not only is this a fun experiment, but it also will teach your kids how to make food for themselves in the future.
- Build a campfire: Learning basic survival skills is important for everyone, so feel free to brush up on your fire-starting knowledge while practicing this activity with your kids. Teach them about the fire triangle (fuel, heat, oxygen), collect the materials to start your fire, and carefully follow the instructions to get your fire started. Remember that teaching your children how to properly extinguish a campfire is just as important as teaching them to build the fire in the first place.
- Take a CPR class: Being CPR-certified is always a good idea for parents, and passing on that knowledge to children will definitely teach them responsibility. Consider taking a class together. You’ll learn about chest compression, how to clear an airway and how to perform rescue breathing for adults, children, and infants.
- Build a greenhouse: Building your very own greenhouse is a big undertaking. Think about making this a summer project with your kids. As you build, make sure you discuss how greenhouses work (retaining heat through convection, keeping plants warm) and what makes them advantageous for gardeners (they serve as protection for plants from wind, weather, and frost, as well as allowing plants to be grown in a safe, enclosed environment). After your greenhouse has been built, start planting – and consider fruits and veggies your children will be able to eat after they’ve grown.
- Learn how to remove a stain: Even adults have accidents sometimes, which can result in spilling something and staining our clothes. Discuss the chemistry behind removing a stain. Part of being an adult means knowing how to combat that stain without having to buy a brand-new shirt. Knowing something about the chemistry of stains and how to remove them can come in handy.
- Learn about vehicle maintenance: Many kids nowadays are driving with no idea how to perform any basic vehicle maintenance. In fact, most teens who are driving now have no clue how to fix their car if anything goes wrong with it, which means they’re spending a lot of money on repairs. Teaching your children how to change a tire, fill a tire with air, check and replace the oil, and change windshield wiper blades can end up saving them a lot of money in the long run – and giving them a sense of responsibility toward their vehicle.
- Learn to use power tools: Knowing how to use various power tools sets your kids up for success when it comes to home improvement. Once they have a place of their own, they’ll appreciate knowing how basic power tools work because it will allow them to be considerably more independent as adults.
Growing up in modern times often means relying on others to do things for you. But one of the best things that parents can do for their kids is to teach them the skills they’ll need later in life (but before they actually need them). One easy way to do this is to piggyback your ‘adulting’ lessons off of your kids’ science lessons. This way, they’ll connect what they’re learning at home with what they learn at school, which will help them retain the information – and use it when they need it.