9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

Have you seen my Unschooling page?  It’s always easily accessible via the tab above. I think you will find some fascinating reading there, regardless of how you educate your children, and even if you have no kids at all.  I just added a new article to the top of the page, and I don’t write as often about homeschooling anymore, so I thought I’d make a note of it.

Leo Babauta of ZenHabits has been one of my favorite bloggers for a long time. Funny thing is, I keep forgetting he homeschools his children because he doesn’t write about homeschooling or even parenting very often.  I was initially attracted to his thought provoking and inspiring writing about life and self improvement. So today, as I was reading the first few paragraphs of 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, when I read

“And here’s the thing: we still don’t. We never do. We have never been good at predicting the future, and so raising and educating our kids as if we have any idea what the future will hold is not the smartest notion.”

I thought, “He ought to unschool.”  I read on and was reminded he does!

For fun, let me review how my family’s homeschool is doing with these 9 skills.

1. My kids ask LOTS of questions.  I decided long before I had kids that their questioning serves an important and worthy purpose.  I vowed I would never scoff at my kids’ questions or brush them off. I think I’ve done well encouraging questioning. Sometimes too well, at times when compliance would have been more convenient than having to explain why I want them to do something. 😉  I’m grateful when my kids ask questions and give me an opportunity to guide them.

2. I definitely don’t solve my kids problems for them.  I’m a good listener and offer suggestions.  And my oldest daughter says I give good advice. 🙂

3. I would like us to tackle more projects together. We do mostly independent projects.

4. We definitely follow our passions in this family!  I think anyone who knows us well can identify our passions because we all actively pursue them on a daily basis. Leo says when he’s so excited he can’t stop thinking about something, that reminds me of waking up one day recently, realizing I had been dreaming about Lightroom!  I couldn’t believe, on one hand, that I’d dream about processing photos, but I have been obsessed with it lately.  LOL

5. In most ways my kids have lots of independence. However, I think I did not encourage them enough in things like fixing their own lunches.  My 5 year old son still has little interest in dressing himself.  Is that typical for a 5 year old boy?  My older daughter also didn’t care much about clothes when she was 5, but at least she was dressing herself.  (My second daughter, who is somewhat passionate about clothes, has been dressing herself since she was 2.)  My oldest, now 10, has said to me more than once, “Of course, I could fix my own lunch, but I prefer you to do it.”  I make sure to be too busy to make lunch occasionally, so my girls have another chance to be independent.  🙂

6. I definitely do not keep my kids on a leash relying on my presence to be happy. As an introvert, I must have time to myself for my sanity. I don’t necessarily have to be alone, but just not bothered. I can’t explain how I’ve made this possible. I think some people, the kind of people who think children have to be told what to do, would probably call it neglect. I just don’t tell them what to do most of the time and will spend periods of time doing my own thing.  I’m available if they really need me, but I will say, “Not now” if I think they can wait.  These periods of time have increased in length as they have grown older.  They play together or work on projects together or individually or whatever. Even my extroverted daughter who always prefers social interaction spends time alone contentedly.

7. I try to be compassionate. I think I’ve gotten better at it over the years.  This may be why my oldest is not always compassionate to her younger sister, having had some less compassionate treatment as a preschooler; then again, maybe it’s just stereotypical sisterly conflict, because she is extraordinarily compassionate with her brother.

8. I hope I’m passing on my value of tolerance to my children. We don’t have as much diversity where we live as I experienced growing up in southern California, but I never pass up an opportunity to express that it’s OK to be different and variety makes life beautiful.  I love that phrase.

9. Dealing with change is not as hard for someone easygoing, and I tend to go with the flow very well. I think this may be more related to personality, and less a skill that can be learned.  But age helps too.  My oldest hated changes when she was young, such as when it was time to leave a get together, but I think she deals with changes okay now.  My middle child was always easygoing, from birth.  My youngest hates saying goodbye even more than his older sister did; fortunately, seeing how she has grown helps me guide him through the trauma of change more smoothly, knowing he will learn.

If you read Leo’s post, 9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn, please come back and share your thoughts.

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