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Schools May Be Closed – But Life Skills University is OPEN!

Yes, our schools are closed. And yours are probably closed, too—or will be at some point. And for a day or two, our kids might be excited about this. It’s like a snow day… that never ends. (We hope not, but that’s the way it feels right now.)

Sure, they will have online schooling of some kind, which will take up some portion of their day. But everything else in our state is cancelled. They can’t (and shouldn’t) go hang out with friends at the mall or the local coffee shop. What is going to take the place of those many hours that were formerly filled by after-school clubs, sports, music lessons, and play rehearsals?

Well… I have a few ideas for how to help your teens fill this time. As someone who has sent two kids to college (and yes, they are back and not one bit happy about it), I can attest to the importance of developing those all-important life skills. The ones that our over-scheduled and academically burned out kids never have time to tackle. Guess what? Now there’s time—and we should take advantage of it.

Here’s a list of a few items you can put on the life skills curriculum:

Life Skills to Teach Teens

Learning to drive

There are so many kids who go off to college with very little ability to drive. They waited so long to get their license that they may have only just received it by the time they head off to school, where they have little opportunity to practice this skill. Most states have graduated licensing requirements that include a certain number of nighttime hours, which can be especially hard to fit in when you’re just totally beat by the end of the day. Now that most of us will be working from home, there’s ample opportunity to fit those practice hours in. And, the roads should be pretty empty, making it a safer learning experience for all.

Meal planning on a budget

Restaurants in our state are closed, which means  preparing meals at home will be essential. Even if your kid has some basic ability in the kitchen, do they know how to plan meals on a budget? Have them help brainstorm some meals or recipes they like, create the list of ingredients, and, if they’re old enough, send them to the store with a budget to see how they do. Have them compare the cost of what their favorite restaurant meal costs versus the number of meals you can create at home for the same amount. It’s one thing to tell them “it’s cheaper to eat at home,” but it’s a different experience when they calculate it for themselves. Everyday math for the win!

Laundry

We’re all trying to be extra clean right now, and clothes are no exception! If your kid has yet to master the art of sorting whites from darks, or how to fold towels and fitted sheets (shudder), boy has your ship come in. Do they know which items will shrink in the dryer? How to clean out the lint trap? What happens when you leave a load of wet clothes in the washing machine too long? Based on what my college kids tell me, some of you have not yet tackled this skill. Do everyone a favor and do it now.

Writing a resume

At some point, your kid will be asked for a resume, either for a summer job or for their college application. And they will ask you this question: “What experience do I have?” Great question! Now’s the time for them to make a list of all the activities they have participated in and associate the skills that go with them. Babysitting, pet sitting, and club involvement all show initiative and leadership. Maybe they have some serious IT skills from developing YouTube videos. Do they take great photos for Instagram? An employer might love their help with social media. Are they involved in a sport? Then they are learning good team- building skills. All of these are transferable skills to an employer, they just don’t realize it. For extra credit, have them create a LinkedIn profile, which also allows them to link to samples of their work.

Lawn care and vehicle maintenance

Everyone needs some physical activity, and as luck would have it, spring is on the way. Now would be a great time to teach your teen how to mow the lawn and do the edging. Power equipment – whee! They can also wash the care and vacuum the inside of it. If they do a good job, I’m sure they would appreciate a tip.

Phys Ed/Health

This may also a be a great time to knock out those pesky P.E. and Health requirements. We still like to tease my nephew about having to go to “night gym” so that he would be able to get his P.E. requirements in time to graduate from high school. I also remember the time I invited one of my kids to go on a walk with us and she said, “I can’t, I have to finish my online health class by tomorrow.” Irony, thy name is Online Health. The one thing our kids CAN do right now is go outside to walk, run, or ride a bike. They can also do yoga or Tai Chi or any number of YouTube exercise videos. And there will be plenty of time to do an online health class now, so get ‘er done while you can. Your kids will thank you later.

If we get through all these items, I have a whole other list of tasks I’d love my kids to help me with, like organizing the Tupperware drawer, matching up all the orphaned socks, and untangling the ball of cords in our basement (what the heck do those all go to, anyway??). I have a feeling we will never reach that level of desperation. But a Mom can dream, right?

Jennifer Proe

Jennifer Proe is a writer and editor with Your Teen Magazine. 

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