Corona Virus Days: Questions about educating at home and learning “life skills”
(March 17, 2020) Some issues have come up with children being home.
Question: One parent expressed concern that their child would lose out with less school, or even “school at home with laptops.”
Answer: Put your mind at rest. I can’t at the moment bring up the studies that prove this (there are many), but just from my experience teaching in various educational settings from strictly traditional (public) to non-traditional, I can assure you that students usually GAIN in a different situation rather than lose. As for using laptops all day? I can’t think of anything more boring.
“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.” Albert Einstein
Question: A parent of a public schooler was concerned with having her elementary-aged child sit at a laptop all day.
Answer: If parents can manage or work this out, I’d suggest to homeschool their children for the rest of the year rather than learning strictly on a laptop. The advantages are great. For example, schooling can be done on your time. Your children can follow their interests—at last—and do creative hands-on learning. This corona virus time could be your greatest blessing. Please contact me at email@example.com to set up a time to talk or Skype. I’d be happy to work with you if this is your plan.
Question: What can we do while my kids are at home for a flat two weeks?
Answer: You are asking the “idea person.” That means I can come up with dozens of answers in a minute! Here is one thing. Have a focus on your kids acquiring life skills.
A hundred or so years ago, most people could grow and preserve food, build their own house, or make their own clothes—among other things. Today, we may not need to know how to do those particular things, but there are other relevant life skills needed for today.
1) Gather your family together and make a list of ideas people need to know in the categories of cooking, household, money, outdoor, personal, clothing, social, and travel skills.
2) Choose several of these to learn over the course of a week. Have fun with this! I’m sure you will come up with lots of ideas, but if you need a bit of inspiration, here are some ideas.
Cooking+: Make scrambled eggs, read a recipe to make muffins (measuring ingredients properly), plan and make two dinners, make a salad –including the dressing, clean the refrigerator, plan and shop for groceries for a week. Learn how to set a table or polish silver or copper. You get the idea!
Household: Set up chores so kids learn how to clean bathroom counter-tops or the floor. Older kids will need to know how to clean the toilet and bathtub (or they may never do this college-age or beyond). Learn how to wash windows, operate the vacuum cleaner—even those little tools, clean a wood stove, get cobwebs off the ceiling. Know about the cleaning solvents you use. Learn to operate the dishwasher, bathe pets, oil squeaky doors, unstop drains, install a lock, replace faucet washer, use weather stripping and caulking…. A really important thing is to participate in spring cleaning!
Money: Make change, compare quality and prices, open a savings account at the…ah…drive-through, use a simple budget, return an item, understand household bills such as rent, electricity, water, phone, garbage. Explain credit cards. Understand what marketing is all about – trying to get you to buy something by appealing to your emotions. Practice NOT buying something and even limiting what you own. Some students are doing the “100 things” practice—just owning 100 things.
Outdoor: I am really into outdoor “wilderness” survival skills. Pack a backpack for any outdoor activity such as hiking and boating. Learn about the ten survival essentials you need for your pockets. (All of this is in my book, Exploring the U.S. Life-Saving Service). If you live in an earthquake zone, pack a backpack of essentials and put it next to your front door and at your office—permanently. No matter where you live, make a car pack (first-aid, water, food) for each of your cars. As for yard skills, pick up yard debris, water and mow lawn, plant and weed a garden, trim trees and shrubs.
Personal: Manage your bedroom space and find places for all your items. Change your bed sheets, find a way to corral your bathroom items in a neat way, arrange for your own haircuts, get into that whole issue of body odor, and even… clean your combs and brush.
Clothing: Clean out and donate clothes, arrange all items, put dirty clothes in your own hamper—that you will wash once a week, clean the dryer lint trap or better yet, at least for girls and women, hang up most of your clothes on hangers since they will last longer, know how to spot clean, be able to iron and mend clothes (as in sew on a button), hand wash delicate fabrics, polish shoes that need polishing, learn to purchase your own clothes so you have quality, not quantity.
Social: There are so many things in this category! Informality is easy. It’s the formal stuff which often comes under the heading of “manners” that needs to be practiced. Introductions, writing thank-you notes, responding to an RSVP, writing a business letter, the art of conversation, planning an event, cell phone manners, using proper utensils in a formal dining situation and how to use a napkin (I’m not kidding here), how to pass food, how to purchase and wrap gifts, and so on!
Travel: Brainstorm ideas like reading bus, train, plane schedules and making reservations. But also make a list of travel tips in a way each family member will always remember them. Ideas: Always have a colored copy of your passport, give someone the address where you are staying, request a room on a higher floor, put cash in other places than your purse or wallet, blend in with the crowd, stay sober, and never tell strangers where you are staying.
Other things? Learn to swim, know emergency first-aid, paint a room, repair wall holes with putty, change a tire, put on chains (snow), and the list goes on.
Basically, don’t over-think all of this. Go back to your own brainstorming. Find a few things your children and you want to do and go for it. Just keep this list at the back of your mind. Enjoy this amazing time with your kids!