Education gives your children the knowledge they need about different subjects, but does not necessarily equip them with essential life skills: the skills we need to deal effectively with the challenges in everyday life, whether at school, at work or in our personal lives.
Sue Watson in ThoughtCo.com classifies life skills in three categories: daily living, personal and social skills, and occupational skills. Daily living skills, she says, range from cooking and cleaning to managing a personal budget. They are the skills necessary for supporting a family and running a household. Personal and social skills, on the other hand, help nurture the relationships that students will have outside of school: in the workplace, in the community, and the relationships they will have with themselves. Finally, occupational skills are focused on finding and keeping employment.
Honestly speaking, life skills are a gray area in most schools. Take romantic love for instance: while we teach them to care for their neighbors, we ridicule dating. Nothing is more saddening than people who continue to get straight A’s in school and who build great resumes, yet have forgotten or never realized the meaning of love. Eventually, most of them lose out on love simply because they don’t realize that indeed there is much to learn about falling into, maintaining, and flourishing in dating and romantic relationships. There is a lack of knowledge today on attachment theories, what romance means to people, the rules of dating (are there rules?), and the meaning of love. If this was focused on more in schools, we’d be more prepared for “the one” when he or she comes along.
Who is teaching your child how to cook? I recently asked one of my university students to describe how to cook her best meal and her answer left me petrified to say the least. “I’m not much of a food buff,” she said. “In fact, all I know how to cook is popcorn and tea,” added she. Good grief! Correct me if I am too old school here, but I was brought up knowing that food is a basic need and that we must learn how to prepare it. The fact is, cooking is a very important skill for home life, and family. Many have said that “Food is love.” Coming out of college not knowing how to cook is a shame. Cooking is an important part of our history.
Have you talked to your child about failure? There’s a misconception that failure means you’ve lost the game in life. This couldn’t be further from the truth. People graduate school thinking they can conquer the world. They have their first set of failures and hit a wall. When people realize that failure is actually part of success, they have breakthroughs. There’s tremendous truth to this, yet not enough strategies, skills, and programs are implemented in our schools to teach our youth about failure being a given, how to react when it comes, and how to build on their failures.
Finally, a degree isn’t enough without survival skills. There are essential survival skills they never teach in school or when you are in dire straits. First Aid, CPR, swimming, how to light a fire, read a compass, make smoke signals, read topography, and changing a car tire all to name a few. At any moment, you never know when you or someone around you will suddenly be in trouble, yet being self-sufficient in a life and death situation is a platform of knowledge most people lack.
In summary, spend some time with your child, teaching him/her the basic life hacks! Otherwise, he/she is just a graduate with technical knowledge without survival skills.
The writer is a Language Consultant