8 ways to teach your children life skills at home I Oxford Open Learning

    8 ways to teach your children life skills at home

    Our recent study surveyed 750 parents in the UK to find out how many children know and understand life skills by the time they leave school.
    We discovered that many parents worry their young ones will finish their education and still be relatively unprepared for adulthood, mainly due to the absence of life skills on the school curriculum.

    The ten life skills parents wished their children were taught at school:

    1. Managing their money 47%
    2. How to budget 37%
    3. How to avoid debt 30%
    4. How to problem solve 27%
    5. How to find and get a job 27%
    6. Can think critically 27%
    7. How to save money 27%
    8. Helping to prepare a meal 25%
    9. Understand mortgages 24%
    10. Can deal with stress 24%

    Encouraging and building your child’s understanding of life skills is crucial in helping them become independent after leaving school. Greg Smith, our head of operations, has given his top eight tips to help children develop such skills outside of the traditional school environment.

    1. Show them how to problem solve

    Children encounter a variety of challenges in their daily lives, from tricky school homework to friend fallouts, and at times, these hurdles may seem insurmountable. But if children don’t address them, they can potentially fall behind academically or impact their social connections.
    To assist your little ones in developing effective problem-solving skills, consider the following steps:

    • Identify the problem: Encourage your child to articulate the issue aloud, laying the foundation for problem resolution.
    • Generate three solutions: Foster creativity by helping them brainstorm three different approaches to address the problem.
    • Evaluate pros and cons: Engage in a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of each solution, aiding your child in identifying the most effective course of action.
    • Choose and test: Once a solution is chosen, empower your child to test it out. If successful, fantastic! If not, ensure they remain resilient and undeterred, ready to explore alternative strategies.

    2. Help them to understand money

    The concept of money can often be confusing for young children, so it’s important to start building an understanding from an early age. Even if you keep your children’s savings in a bank account, try storing some of their pocket money in a clear jar or container so that they can physically see their money as they save or spend it.

    If your child wants to keep buying things, help them understand the pros and cons of their purchase. Ask them, is this something that you will use? Or would you rather use the money towards something you really want?

    3. Teach them how to prepare a meal

    Having your children help out in the kitchen is a great way to make learning fun and develop their knowledge of cooking different meals. Not only is it important to show young children how to safely prepare a meal, but it’s a great way to encourage healthy eating.

    4. Help them manage their stresses

    Growing up can be a confusing time for children, so helping them to understand and deal with stress from a young age will certainly benefit them in later life. No matter how small their stresses may feel, it is important they know you are there to help them get through. Ask them to talk it out, listen to how they are feeling, and help them to focus on the positive parts of the situation.

    5. Help them to think critically

    Critical thinking is an important skill that children should be learning from an early age, as it helps them to think analytically. If you feel like your child isn’t developing enough in this area at school, there are some ways this can be encourage within the home.

    Get your child to think about different perspectives by asking them questions like: ‘What would you do in that situation?’, or ‘What do you think that means for the other person?’. Asking these types of questions will not only develop their critical thinking, but will help them grow more empathetic.

    6. The importance of staying safe

    In today’s world, it’s really important to teach your children how to stay safe from a young age, both online and in the real world. Ensure that you have a running dialogue with your child about safe and unsafe people, and different warning signs they might encounter. To keep them engaged, role-play different scenarios with them so that they can differentiate between what is normal and what isn’t.

    7. Understanding mortgages

    Mortgage knowledge is the life skill children are least likely to have when they leave school, and almost a quarter (24%) of parents say they wish it was taught in the classroom.

    Mortgages can be a dreary subject even for adults, but they are obviously incredibly important, so it’s useful to introduce the idea to children wherever possible. Children are naturally curious about the world, so helping them to have a better understanding of how finances and mortgages work will certainly help them in later life. Have them look at one of your mortgage statements and go through the numbers with them.

    This is a good time for children to understand that very few people can afford to buy their homes outright, and that the majority either rent their homes or have a mortgage. This should make the process a bit less daunting when they eventually come to buy their own place.

    8. Improving your child’s social skills

    Forming friendships can be a challenge at any age, so helping your children develop and improve their social skills will help them throughout life. It can often be confusing for parents to know where to start when it comes to social skills, so here are a couple of essentials to teach your child.

    • Encourage eye contact: Although it may sound simple, encourage your child to maintain eye contact and practice this while talking to them. This will help to grow their confidence when in social situations.
    • Teach them about emotions: It’s important as parents and role models to show children the difference between positive and negative emotions. Explain the emotions present during different situations as this will help young children to understand the differences when in school or social settings.
    • Practise with role playing: Children love to play, so helping them to understand social skills in a fun and engaging way is perfect for both child and parent. Fancy dress and toys can also help!

    Having greater control over the curriculum is one of the major benefits of homeschooling, and it means you can weave in life skills to your child’s learning whenever you like. For more information about homeschooling, visit: https://www.oxfordhomeschooling.co.uk/homeschooling-info/what-is-home-schooling/

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    Greg is the Head Of Operations at Oxford Home Schooling and has more than 25 years of experience in Distance Learning and Home Education