Thursday, April 21, 2016

Life Skills 101

I have been busily planning courses and researching curriculum for next semester, which really begins in a scattered form.  We are so far off the traditional school schedule these days that we just throw in a new course when one is completed.  This next year or two is going to get us somewhat out of the books for some subjects, and out into the world a little more.  While academics will still be strong, we are bringing some other things alongside.

One course that I plan to teach, with Dominick's help in a couple of areas, for two years is Life Skills.  You know, as we think about our kids one day heading off on their own, we have realized there are many non-academic skills we want to make certain we have been taught before they make their own nests someday.  As academics and testing have been pushed into the public school arena, classes such as home economics, shop, family and child development and more are being replaced.  Both Dominick and I took a wonderful Family Life course in high school from the same teacher that was enormously helpful as we looked toward our future.  It made us pause and consider what kind of life we wanted to build together.

We also want the kids to be able to handle their finances well, cook a decent meal, understand enough of a conversation with a car mechanic that they won't get ripped off, and be able to save money by performing minor repairs in their own homes.  All of these skills have helped us manage to have a decent life even on a lower income, and provided us with a sense of self-sufficiency and confidence early on in our married life.

This will also offer us the opportunity for a lot of project based learning, the first of which will be hard wiring the electrical outlets and plugs in the garage and adding in new lights.  I have all kinds of ideas that will make this learning take root, and provide many moments of laughter, too, I am sure, as we work our way through a cookbook and the kids each plan meals, shop for them on a budget, and prepare them.  I am going to recreate an experiential learning project which we did in that high school class where the kids will be "parents" to baby "eggs" for a couple of weeks, and need to meet the needs of their child, take it with them everywhere, make sure they have babysitters they pay, etc.  That one should be a hoot and also informative as they get a tiny sneak peek at how much responsibility goes into having a baby.

We also have a business development project in mind that will be a major effort for the kids, more on that to come in a few months, if it works out.  This will flesh out their Entrepreneurship course this year, which all the kids have learned so much from and really enjoyed.  Ask them about P&L's, assessing the financial health of a business, the value of marketing, and more...they are prepared to answer!

We are going to build things, make things, read things, discuss things, clean things, and more!  So much to learn, so little time.  Oh yea, and along the way we will probably do some Algebra, Earth Science, and tenth grade literature...and a handful of essays just for good measure!

Here are the texts we are going to use over the next two years, that cover everything with the exception of three personal finance texts, including more personal topics and relationships:

The Family Handyman Do-it-Yourself Manual has already been broken out, and a two hour "field trip" to Home Depot with Dominick took place, as electrical wiring was investigated and the garage project laid out.  Dominick said it was so funny, all five kids had their Manuals with them and were looking at electrical switches when an employee walked by, totally puzzled, as they were reading and learning while deciding what parts to purchase.

Angela getting conduit...and now knows what conduit is! 

So much to learn, so little time!!  Life skills, reading, math, science, it is all fun!


Anonymous said...

Yes, I fondly remember my baby egg, Kristopher James! Just read a book that your kids might find interesting. Children of the Dustbowl is a look at The Weedpatch school that was built by "Okie" children. They had some great hands on learning and an education that became the envy of those who didn't want them in their backyard.

I am planning for next year as well. As you said, so much to learn, so little time

Teresa F

schnitzelbank said...

Hi- I think your life skills projects are great! I would include problem-solving for Kenny that involves knowing who and how to ask for help, in case he isn't sure about something. How to ask for clarification. Can I speak with the manager? Understanding basic contracts. How to say, "Why don't you give me your information, and I will call you if interested" (dealing with solicitors), things like this. How about for the ladies, how to speak up when you something is off? How to use a strong voice to tell a creep to leave them alone. Just a few weeks ago, a creepy guy was staring at me and my children in the mall. I told him firmly to go away, he did, and I reported him to security. A good book for guys, "The Art of Manliness."
I am a little curious about your "car care for women" book. Why not just basic car care? I don't think car maintenance is any different, based on gender. Oh well, maybe the contents are good for anyone- just the title is a turn-off.