Life Preparation 101
For many of you, the school year is winding down, and your teens are finishing those last few assignments. Do you think they know that you look forward to summer as much as they do? As you enjoy a brief break from your teaching routine, the summer months may be a good time to think about life skills to teach your teens in preparation for adulthood.
Although many of our newsletters focus on academic skills, we'd like to branch out and suggest areas that go beyond the schoolwork. No matter what avenue your teens plan to travel, teaching these skills during the high school years will be useful.
Home and Car Maintenance
Both young men and young ladies will benefit from learning the basics. Simple meal planning and cooking, grocery shopping, sorting laundry, ironing, sewing on a button, as well as lawn care and changing furnace filters are among the many skills that can be taught.
If your teen is headed off to college in the future and will live off campus, learning about renter's insurance, negotiating lease agreements, and contacting utility companies may also be useful.
Maintaining a car in good repair (changing the oil, changing a flat tire, and replacing bulbs and windshield wipers) not only teaches good skills, but also has the potential of saving your teens money by doing these tasks themselves rather than paying someone else to do them. When your car insurance bill comes due, read over the terms and conditions with your teen and explain words such as deductibles, comprehensive and collision coverage, and property and bodily injury liability.
As your teen works part-time jobs and receives monetary gifts, does he apply good money sense in spending, saving, investing, and giving to the Lord's work? For some teens, financial management comes naturally, but for others it is an area that must be taught. Helping your teen to set up a simple budget, open a checking account, and even take a stab at investing are all good first steps in managing finances. In addition, if you are courageous, you can give your teen a set monetary amount to cover his expenses (medical, wardrobe, entertainment, incidentals) and let him take responsibility for these costs. This plan will give him practice living within such a budget and appreciation for what you have provided for him.
Some of you may complete courses in health and first aid during the high school years; but if not, then you may want to be sure that your teen learns key facts in these areas. Many hospitals and community centers give CPR and first aid courses for nominal fees or for free. Chat with your teens about good nutrition, exercise, and preventative medicine. Health insurance and medical co-operatives such as Samaritan Ministries are good subjects to include in conversations as well as terms such as co-pays, referrals, HMOs, etc. As your teen reaches 18, you may want him to take the major responsibility for making his own doctor appointments, setting up a fitness plan, or checking on immunizations needed for college acceptance or employment.
At some point in time your teen will most likely need to find a job! Help her to create a resume, learn how to network, explore the job market for various vocations, and make an effort to increase her marketable skills. Take time to role play good interviewing techniques and to have your teen write out answers to the inevitable job interview questions such as: what are your strengths and weaknesses, what are your long-term goals, and why should I hire you?
Your teen will never outgrow the need to manage her time wisely, so give her opportunities during high school to take charge of this area. This can include keeping a personal calendar to plan and prioritize activities such as schoolwork, social life, part-time job, hobbies, community service/volunteer work, plain old fun, and more. Start off slowly by working with your teen to structure her day, then her week, and then her monthly time. You may want to make your teen responsible for coordinating rides to her activities, planning a family outing, and completing job or college applications. She will quickly realize that these things don't just happen, but time must be set aside in order to accomplish them.
Someone once said that a parent is constantly trying to work himself out of a job! In a good sense, give yourself to providing your teen with the skills he will need to handle more and more situations with more and more responsibility. In other words, try not to be a helicopter parent (one who hovers)!
For example, if your teen experiences problems on his part-time job, resist the urge to call his boss and straighten things out. Instead, encourage him to think of various options for dealing with the situation, and then help him lay out a plan to follow a chain of command to resolve the problem.
If conflict arises between your teen and a friend, stay involved with the situation by praying for your teen and encouraging him to seek biblical counsel. Encourage him to take the necessary steps toward reconciliation so he'll learn to confront issues straight on rather than pushing them aside.
Is your teen comfortable in asking other adults for help when needed? If he is making life decisions (such as college, tech school, or vocational school), will he seek out the counsel of others with experience?
It's a big world out there! If your teen's next step is college, the workforce, or the military, chances are that he will encounter people who have vastly different values and lifestyles than those modeled in your home. Wisely expose (using much discernment!) your teens to people and issues that will cause him or her to clarify beliefs and to respond graciously. Talk about the necessity of regular quiet times for Bible study and prayer, the benefits of godly friendships, and the challenge of standing alone if need be. Lead your teen to think through various ways to positively impact those who disagree with him, how to suggest alternatives to activities that would violate his principles, and how to remain faithful while events and others pull him in an ungodly direction. Encourage him not to be ashamed of the gospel of Christ but to be ready in season and out to give a word for the hope that is within.
The high school years provide many occasions to guide your teens in appropriate interaction with the opposite sex. The earlier the better--before emotions enter the picture! Communicate with your teens the values that are important as they relate to others. Talk about their thoughts on choosing a spouse (perhaps listing character traits they desire in a mate), seeking and listening for God's direction, and holding fast to their convictions.
A Little Here a Little There
Using the checklist below will help you to assess what has already been learned, and then to lay out some reasonable goals for teaching other skills important to your teen. Your ability to instruct will ultimately be dependent on how willing your teen is to learn. Use good judgment and ask the Lord for His insight and direction. Timing is everything! Maturity doesn't happen overnight, but trust that the Lord is at work in your teens' minds and bodies to bring them along into adulthood.
- Life skills checklist and resource guide
- Time management resources
- Financial management resourcesJob Preparation Resources
- Job preparation resources
- Parent/Teen Resources
Next month, join us as we talk about the joy of passing on your family legacy to the next generation.
Always learning new skills,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (6/4/2010), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.