Posted tagged ‘easy life skills’

What skills do your kids have?

October 28, 2015

Here’s a challenge – besides reading, writing and asking for a better phone what skills do your teenagers have? And what do they need?  For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is by Nicola Baird, also see www.nicolabaird.com

We sing when we set up camp... "We didn't start the fire," (King Charles) went down well. (c) homemadekids/nicola baird

Learning to light a fire, in the rain.  (c) homemadekids/nicola baird

It’s time to take stock about the practical skills my teenagers now have. When my daughters were little, learning was fun and they were willing to try all sorts of things from street dance and trampolining to modelling with sticks. Now they are teenagers life looks more restrictive – there’s a lot of peer pressure and instinct to shop and chat. Both are absolutely fine.

However both my girls now babysit quite often and the oldest is thinking about what she could do during a gap year between school and university. So what practical skills do they have? And what do they need?

DIY experience: how about re-covering a chair seat using an upholstery stapler? This is a goodbye pic to my chair which I recently passed on to a Freecycler.

DIY experience: how about re-covering a chair seat using an upholstery stapler? This is a goodbye pic to my chair which I recently passed on to a Freecycler. (c) homemadekids/nicola baird

Life saving
One brilliant tick goes to Lola’s school that organised a first aid session, at a very cheap rate, after AS and A level exams last summer – definitely something worth asking your child’s school to do. Everyone needs to know the basics of first aid because it saves lives. Not long after this training Lola had to step in when a friend collapsed with a diabetes emergency. She said it was very scary to be the only one in the room not screaming, but at least she’d had a little bit of training to know how to use the recovery position, how not to panic and the sort of info you need to tell 999. She also accompanied her friend to hospital which was clearly the right instinct. Going back to the party afterwards was definitely not though!

At 18 in the UK some kids have already been at work for two years, but most have just been at school. Entrepeneurship skills are hard to acquire (I have enough trouble myself making ends meet and spreadsheets balance) but table top sales and babysitting start the process off well for school and college-aged kids. The only problem is that most of these “babies” are in bed, or just about to go to bed, so the teenager doesn’t have much responsibility. What they’ve got to be able to do is step in if things go wrong – and that often needs practice, especially keeping a cool head.

Life hack: trying out a clever way to rethread worn out shoe laces.

Life hack: trying out a clever way to rethread worn out shoe laces.

Life hacks
My daughters see my repairing all sorts of stuff – clothes, sofas, chairs,cushion covers etc. I don’t do it well. There’s no such thing as in invisible repair in my home, but I like the story of a repair showing. I hope seeing me mend things (with my sewing kit and sugru) will inspire them to mend stuff. But I don’t think it does. So today when Lola was queuing to buy some tickets on the net I challenged her to rethread some worn out laces into a shoe. At first she said she couldn’t, then she half did it saying that made the shoes look cool. I want to pass these shoes on to a charity shop so I passed her a pencil to see if that helped poke the worn shoe lace through the eyes… and it did.

You can’t teach practical skills – or common sense – but hopefully you can encourage all children, of any age, to think creatively in order to get what they want. Mine are brilliant at using words to browbeat me: now they also need to learn to use the other side of their brains to mend and repair things – not just to save money when they don’t have much, but to avoid having to throw stuff away unnecessarily.

Over to you
What skills do your kids have – or you’d like them to have – which you reckon are essential? Is it washing up, or thoughtfulness or something else?

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What skills do humans need?

February 10, 2014

How do you know you’re doing the best for your kids? First make a list… For more ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children follow this blog or get my book Homemade Kids, out of the library. This post is from www.nicolabaird.com

Truisms through the shop window.

Truisms through the shop window.

If only we knew what skills our children need. It’s easy to give them what we wanted to learn as children, but to get it right for each future generation is crazily hard. And my generation – the ones who had left university before computers were mainstream – have seen how needs change firsthand.

My daughters’ school is in the process of rethinking its ethos – like most schools we want to support young people in their learning. But goodness it’s hard to crack what future skills they need, especially with Michael Gove’s more old-fashioned focus on examined courses.

In the Evening Standard on 7 February 2014 Nick Curtis produced a fascinating list  of the 10 skills that will help children for the future. They included basic knowledge of economics (ie, banking and debt); understanding cost-benefit ratios (I don’t get this one at all but i think it might be opting for well made over tat); map reading skills; how to change a car’s electric battery and maintain a bike; understanding of the way bodies get stiff and worse; how to speak Mandarin; how to speak in other languages without being able to speak that language; sex education that isn’t too fluffy; how to play a portable musical instrument and how to say no.  It’s a great list.  A lot better than the do-gooder lists you can buy in gift shops (see pic.).

It inspired me to do an audit on my girls – here are some skills I think they need, and are slowly developing.

How to look good with a moustache is essential - but what else does a teenager need to know?

How to look good with a moustache is essential – but what else does a teenager need to know?

11 things teenagers need to know

  1. Planning tools (eg, SWOT grids) to help make decisions
  2. Ability to delegate
  3. Understanding probability (re, if it will rain, will the tube flood, health risks)
  4. Ability to research
  5. Social skills so you can get on with people rather than get their backs up
  6. Ability to market yourself (for interviews etc)
  7. New media skills (and how to use it safely and why not to be a troll)
  8. Grit and determination
  9. Know when to celebrate (big treats and mini pats on the back)
  10. Willingness to work hard – and evidence that you can
  11. Awareness of the need to learn
Battling for the seat at the winning table. Or just a game of chess.

Battling for the seat at the winning table. Or just a game of chess.

Younger children might benefit from these 15 skills

  1. How to use basic tools in the tool box, kitchen drawer etc
  2. The names of things (ie, in the tool box)
  3. How to cook
  4. How to sew
  5. How to grow food
  6. Confidence reading and being able to choose your own books
  7. How to ask questions (and listen)
  8. How to play an instrument (or whistle or sing)
  9. How to read maps
  10. How to unwind and relax
  11. How to be kind
  12. First aid knowledge
  13. How to look after an animal
  14. How to file, and keep papers in an organised way
  15. How to save money and use it.

Of course I can’t do all the things on the list… the challenge is to find ways to hand them to the next generation as a gift rather than a chore.

Over to you
Any ideas how I can build global awareness and a sense of life as fun into the skills I wish to share with my daughters – and help teenage school students learn?


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