Back to School: How to Teach our Kids Life Skills

This post contains affiliate links for Skill Trek. I am excited to tell you about it! See my full disclosure about affiliate links by clicking here.

Fall is almost officially here, and we feel it because it’s back to school time. This elicits both a sigh of relief and a bit of nail-biting for most parents. Will our kiddos move ahead this year in their readiness for all the world holds? Are they learning the life skills they need to navigate it well?

Life Skills

Whether parents choose private, public, homeschool, or unschooling, I’m fairly confident most of us want our children to succeed. I think we all want our kids to be happy while they are learning too. We have mainly educated our kids through the public school systems (in Canada and in the U.S), though we forayed into Christian Schooling for a couple of years for one child, and virtual schooling for the two others. Each model has its benefits and drawbacks, but we’ve managed, and our children have thrived all the way through.

Back to School: How to Teach Our Children Life Skills

Sending my firstborn off to University recently, while seeing #firstdayofschool posts everywhere, has made me a bit nostalgic. It has forced me to consider the paths that led to this point. Have we prepared him well?

As I’ve thought this through, I’ve realized that much of what he needs to succeed he didn’t actually learn in school. Yes, he gleaned a lot there, and we’ve had some awesome teachers along the way. But he learned many of his most important life skills outside of the classroom, away from textbooks and technology.

This is #joyletloose.

When life becomes a vibrant classroom, life skills abound. Click To Tweet

Some of the skills that top my list as most important are:

  • Looking people in the eye
  • Listening well
  • Having a strong handshake
  • Extending hospitality
  • Respecting our elders

 

Then of course add in such things as cooking a variety of foods, laundry care, home repairs, money management, conversation and table etiquette and the list goes on… There are so many things we can add to the curriculum of life. And parents (and grandparents!) of littles, it is never too early to begin!

 

Skill Trek

Life skills are learned through repetition, in an environment that feels natural and enjoyable. They are internalized best when someone who loves them brings them alongside. And learning goals can be set according to the values that parents see as important in the adult world.

It just so happens that I stumbled on this great resource just last week. Skill Trek is a program designed for parents who want to make life skill learning a key (and fun!) part of home life. We didn’t have such a resource as our kids were navigating their younger years, but I wish we did! 

Whether your family is just entering the school world or starting into their teens, they can become Trailblazers, Rockhoppers, or Cragsmen. And Skill Trek promises 500+ skills are available to you in innovative and fun ways, with a reward system that encourages good habits to form through practice. Their goal is to banish boredom in your home, and to help everyone thrive!

Here are just a few of the testimonials I’ve read:

Skill Trek has exceeded everything I hoped it would be.  My children are eager to earn nuggets and master new skills, and the lessons have been fantastic jumping points for further discussion and learning.  I highly recommend this program to all parents of children!” ~ Dawn of Cedar’s Story

 

“My kids keep asking “Can we do Skill Trek?” They love their [trail]guide and earning nuggets! I love that they’re learning a wide range of life skills. It’s a busy mom win, for sure!” ~ Tauna of Proverbial Homemaker

 

So whether you’d want to include this in your homeschooling curriculum, or slip it into your after school routine, I encourage you to check out Skill Trek to see what you think! And I’d also encourage you to intentionally set some goals for your children. What are those key attributes you see in vibrant adults that they can learn now? What are the things you want to be sure they live naturally by the time they set out the door for university?

Goal-setting

Joy Let Loose adults are very often those whose childhoods were impacted by patient, loving mentors. How can you come alongside your children (or grandchildren, or other children you love) to help them grow to let joy loose?

I made a printable goal-setting sheet for you to get started. Download the PDF here. 

Life Skill Goals Sheet

How about you? What are some life skills you are instilling in your children that are invaluable to you and your family?

Elizabeth Joy

Friday Fun (It’s the Little Things): Fancy Progressive Dinner

The weekend is here, which means it’s time for Friday Fun on  Joy Let Loose! This week I was remembering a Fancy Progressive Dinner my husband and I were part of many years ago. And I thought, “Why on earth have we not done that again?!” Because it was REALLY fun!

So because I want to do it again, I want to share it with you and invite you to think about doing it too! 

Fancy Progressive Dinner

Fancy Progressive Dinner

First, start by planning out your guest list. Who would really get into something like this? Is there a family you are trying to get to know? Add them in! This will work best with about four couples (or families) who live relatively close to each other.

Then, create your invitations digitally, or on paper.

Here’s what you might want to say:

It’s time for some Friday Fun!

What: Fancy Progressive Dinner

When: Friday, _________

Where: All of our houses!

  • Family #1 provides their home and the appetizers from 5:30-6:15pm
  • Family #2 provides the main course at their home from 6:30-8:00pm
  • Family #3 provides dessert and coffee a their home from 8:15-9:15pm
  • Family #4 provides their home & munchies/games from 9:30-end.

It’s going to be Fancy! So let’s pull out our best dishes and put on our fanciest clothes for a night on the “town”.

The Menu

Next, work together with the other people (a week or two in advance) to co-ordinate your menu. You want to find items that complement each other well, but also have options that work for everyone. Once the items are finalized, create menu cards to display on each table. I’ve created a sample menu you can use if you like it!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Menu

Download the PDF free!

The set-up

A while back, I posted about Family Traditions. Several of them could come in to play with this Friday Fun activity, including helping your kids learn how to properly set the table, and having conversation starters at each house. After all, it is never too early (or too late!) to learn proper etiquette, and the safety of friends’ homes is a great place for that. Also, spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice.

Spills and broken dishes are always forgivable; lifelong lessons need practice. Click To Tweet
Other ideas

There are as many ways to do a Fancy Progressive Dinner as there are people to dream them up. Get creative! Here are just a few ideas to start you off:

  • Base your evening on a Roaring Twenties theme, complete with swing jazz, mint juleps, and Gatsby-inspired fonts.
  • Follow an Indian theme, including flavorful curries and sweet punjabi lassi.
  • Make it a black-tie night, and make all of your decor black & white.
  • Incorporate a mystery party that requires numerous locations.

The possibilities are endless!

Fancy Progressive Dinner Follow-Up

Finally, it’s always a great idea to follow up a dinner party with a proper “Thank You!” And in this case, where several families had to open their homes and provide part of the meal, I’d suggest it is a definite must! Allow leftover menu cards to double as Thank You notes, and pop them in the mail 1-2 days after the event. Because the more you can show people value, the more they are built up. And the more people are encouraged to open their homes and build community, the more they will desire it. After all, it’s in the little things that we often discover joy. And it’s in community that we best let our joy loose.

It’s your turn: Have you done a progressive dinner before? What ideas do you have? Leave a note in the comments below.

Elizabeth Joy

 

 

About Elizabeth

I am a Christ follower, wife of 20 years to Scott, mother to three incredible teenagers (Mackenzie, Morgan and Grace), worship leader, writer and songwriter. I’m Canadian by birth, but recently transplanted to Indiana. Surprised by the grace of Jesus 19 years ago, He keeps surprising me regularly – leading me to unexpected places, calling me to things I could never do apart from Him, and renovating me from the inside out.

I love my family like crazy, fresh air (inside and out!), the ocean, bare feet in grass, sun on my skin, very hot coffee in large pottery mugs, and friendships that turn into sisterhood. I love correctly spelled words, igniting the senses with rich and vivid images that awaken the imagination, personifying inanimate objects and ideals, and really long sentences that sound like you are about to run out of breath. I write words because the Living Word has been imprinted on my life and heart, and because I believe that the Lord can miraculously breathe life on the words of His children to reveal His nature and His love. I also believe wholeheartedly that we should shout His grace from the rooftops by telling and re-telling the things He has done. Because God stories let loose are perfect stories.

I created  Joy Let Loose because I want my life to be that. 

And I want you to join me!

Elizabeth Joy