As an adult in my mid 20's, there is a boat load of things I'm still asking my parents about. Come tax season, I always have a million questions that I already asked the prior year. Then when my car died, it was time for me to make a decision on whether I could outright buy one or loan it. In that time, I had NO idea what I was getting myself into. I had so many questions it was all encompassing. It was in that moment that I wish I took a class in high school that went over all of these big life discussions and how to handle them. But that's when it hit me: there were never any classes teaching these kinds of life skills.
Instead of learning how to budget my finances, how to fix a flat tire, or what season to grow tomatoes in, I learned geometry (which I haven't used since school) and the elements of the periodic table. I'm not saying these things aren't important, but when it comes to real life skills — I'm never going to need to know that the element for gold is 'Au.' I need to know how to run a household, what mortgages are all about, and what kind of health insurance I need.
Here are 10 things we should have learned in school and 10 things our parents should teach us at home.
First, let's look at the 10 things schools should be teaching...
Taxes are one of those things all of us need to file. Once a year, businesses, individuals, and families need to file for the income they received the year prior. Most teens start working in the summer to start saving some money for gas or college. Many of them don't even think about taxes until once they're in college. However, they need to start dealing with it early on. Although most parents file their kids as their dependents, knowing how to do taxes is important for people of any age. Not learning how to file them when we're young definitely hurts us when we're adults.
19 Communication Skills
Learning how to communicate is vital (and yes, there's a difference between arguing, chit-chatting, and communicating). In the age of technology, it's more important than ever for kids to know how to communicate properly. Learning how to speak, ask questions, and listen properly is immensely important without looking at one's phone. Think about how many kids text while speaking these days. They say they're listening, but they're not fully present.
The art of conversation is special and is especially important during interviews and meetings for work. Even learning how to converse professionally via email is crucial.
Having these kinds of communication classes in high school will do even more for a young teen, so that when they go to college they're prepared.
Loans, taxes, savings — money makes the world go round. When we're kids and teens, our parents usually lend us some cash for the things we want to do. And since the money is coming in regularly, most of us don't learn how to manage money. Our parents lend us $20, and what do we do? We go to the movies, buy some popcorn, and a $11 movie ticket. POOF! There goes all the cash.
Learning to save early on would be super impactful for someone so young. There are days I wonder how much money I would have if I started saving earlier. If only I had a short class showing me how to save and what to save for!
17 Social Media Reflection
Living in the digital age is cool and everything, but what happens when our social media affects our life? Nowadays, many future employers check a person's social media account before interviewing or hiring them to make sure they're the clean image they're looking for. There are even students who were granted scholarships or admissions into schools who lost it all due to something inapt put on Twitter. Learning how to become a little wiser on the web—along with how to be safe on the web—would be an amazing class to teach kids at a young age.
Social media is such a big part of our world now, it would be silly to overlook something so impactful.
16 Healthy Relationships
Learning what a healthy relationship looks like is more than important. How we let someone treat us—and what we look for in a partner—can set the tone for the rest of our lives. Sure, many high schools have a health class that goes over "no means no," but what exactly is a healthy relationship? What's considered misuse of power these days? This is also very important when it comes to personal affection. Both boys and girls need to learn that they don't need to do anything that they don't want to. They have a voice and it's powerful. A class like this can also cover the ins and outs of social pressures and how to find your own acceptance.
Car insurance, life insurance, homeowner's insurance... what's the deal with insurance!? For something that's so important for someone's wellbeing, why is it that we don't learn these things in high school?
Owning a home is a hefty purchase that requires homeowners insurance; it covers losses, damages, and assets for a home.
When a person gets older, many start dabbling in life insurance, so that if something happened to them, their kids or spouse are taken care of. Car insurance is also a safety net for anyone who's responsible enough to drive and wants to be covered.
Regardless of the type, we have insurance for large purchases (even smaller technological devices) that need to be learned by all at a young age.
14 How To Negotiate
Learning to negotiate is an important skill. Some people seem to "have" it, while others need a little help in the right direction. But I personally think everyone could be good negotiators if they learn some of the basics.
You don't need to be a lawyer to learn how to negotiate. You're going to need to discuss terms when shopping for a house, a car — even haggling for fruit at a farmers market! Learning how to argue in a professional, understanding way is imperative to succeed. Later, young teens will need to negotiate for job offers or even arguments with a spouse.
Teens need to not only join the debate club but learn how to debate.
13 Mental Health
The topic of mental health is huge today. Kids seem more stressed than ever.
With the increase of bullying and the pressure to get into expensive schools, kids seem to have more anxiety than adults.
Teaching what mental health is and how to handle the pressures of teenage-hood is imperative. Our mental and emotional well-being affects our entire life. It's how we learn how to handle stress, how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about others. From childhood to young adulthood, learning about mental health from a young age could save the many lives of children who find their stressors too overbearing.
Although it's wonderful that many schools have health classes, focusing on mental health has never been more important.
12 Applying For Jobs
Learning how to apply for a job in high school could save young adults a ton of headaches when they're in college. I know many English students learn how to make a resume—which is amazing—but there needs to be an emphasis on how to interact with a fellow business professional. Young kids need to learn how to sell themselves and how to highlight their brightest features. Everything from what you wear, how to respond, and what makes you qualified should be taught in class. There should even be multiple role reversals instead of tests! Doing these run-throughs will also make going to a real job interview less alarming.
11 Self Defense
You don't need to watch the news to know that our world is a dark place. We no longer need to watch frightening things going down in other countries because they're happening in our own backyard. But what if they learned how to protect themselves by themselves... not with the help of spray?
Learning self-defense in gym class could do wonders for a person's confidence.
Never will they have to be in fear walking alone at night; they'll have the tools under their belt to handle an intruder and get out if the situation as safely as possible.
And these are the 10 things that should be taught at home...
10 Home: Manners
Most of us learn how to say "Bless you" after someone sneezes or to hold the door for someone behind us early on in life. In fact, most daycares and younger grades emphasize these manners so that kids can grow to be more compassionate young adults. And while it's wonderful that teachers teach these manners, it's also important that parents focus on these traits as well. The more they learn in school, parents should roll with what they're learning and continue it at home. Then, as they grow, having nice manners will be second nature.
You don't need to be running some kind of etiquette camp at home, but learning good manners will help a young adult in many situations.
9 Life Without Technology
Technology is great. We have the ability to search the Internet for our deepest questions. We're able to keep in contact with family members from out of state. We even have the option to spread our creativity through apps and blogs; technology is amazing! But do we rely on it a little too much? Absolutely. Our ancestors used to get around with actual maps. They used to be able to get home by following the stars for crying out loud! But these days we have kids who don't even know how to get to the mall. This is why more parents should take their kids camping; learn the way of the land. Learn to tell time by the sun dials or directions through campuses instead of using our phones for everything. Heck, this could be a weekend thing to get the whole family involved!
When I was in middle school, taking home economics was something every student had to do. From sewing to cooking to baking — we did it all. In fact, we couldn't pass the class unless we successfully made un-burnt cookies and sewed our own pajama pants (pajama pants that I later wore around school because I was so proud of myself).
But these days I'm pretty sure home economics is no longer a class, learning to cook and sew is no longer necessary, I suppose; which is why we need to rely on our parents.
This is why it would awesome if parents learned these things and passed them down to their kids. Cooking can be fun and easy to do. It can even be a bonding activity for the whole family!
7 How To Change A Tire
I'm not ashamed to say that I'm a 28-year-old woman who has no idea how to change a tire. My mom taught me when I was in high school but that was 10 years ago and I've (thankfully) never had to do it again. I would love to practice again one day, just so I'm prepared in case it happens in the future, but in the meantime I totally rely on my husband and AAA.
Teaching kids how to take care of their cars, change tires, and refill fluids is important once they start driving. Whenever there's an issue with their car, they'll know where to look and what to look out for.
6 How To Focus
I thankfully learned "how" to study in high school. I had an English teacher who thought it was imperative to teach students how to study properly, along with different ways to study.
But when I got to college, I noticed there were many students who had no idea how to study or where to start.
Teaching kids how to study from a young age can help set up good learning habits. They may even do better on tests in high school, which will in turn get them into better colleges, and so on. Studying seems like such an easy concept, but it's not the case for every child or teen, which is why parents should help them gain that perspective.
5 How To Lose
Dealing with failure is something everyone needs to learn. Although it would be nice, we're not all going to win everything we do. We're not always going to ace that test or get into that college we thought we'd get into. Likewise, we're not always going to make every team or club or job we try out for. Learning how to fail or lose with grace is meaningful and can make all the difference in a child's self confidence.
Learning how to lose is something teachers and coaches may harp on, but it's something parents can actually focus on at home.
4 First Aid
I don't think you need to learn how give someone liposuction, but it's probably crucial how to give the Heimlich maneuver, how to give a stitch, what to do with an open wound, and how to give CPR. These small safety maneuvers could be strong enough to save someone's life. After all, you never know when someone may choke on food or have an allergic reaction to something!
Many kids may learn how to do these things in school, but learning how to do these at home may be a little more comfortable. Kids will feel more comfortable asking their parents questions and can practice whenever they'd like instead of just waiting for class once a year.
3 Healthy Food Choices
It's sad to me that most foods on a children's menu are mostly fried foods: chicken fingers, French fries, personal pizzas... There's never any vegetable selections for them to choose from. If parents teach healthy eating habits early on in a child's life, not only will they be healthier, but they'll make healthier choices later on in life.
Children can learn healthy eating habits in school, but the earlier they start — the better. Kids will also eat cleaner if they see mom and dad doing the same thing.
Teaching kids how to eat healthy won't work well if mom and dad refuse to eat broccoli, too.
2 How To Manage A Home
Owning a home is a big responsibility. Aside from the financial aspects, there are also permits and smaller things you need to think of. Does your yard need a fence? Do you need to hire people to do the yard work or will you do it yourself? Will you need to worry about earthquake or tornado insurance? What about central heat and air? Owning a home is not the same as renting an apartment or living in college dorms. The earlier young adults can learn this — the better. Learning it at home will be much better since they can see all the things their parents do in their own surroundings. It's like a crash course at real life.
I love my local farmers markets and grocers. As a vegetarian, I take pride in trying different grains and vegetables, however, do I know how to grow my own? Not in the slightest. It sounds super easy (plant the seeds, give them water, and watch them grow), but every plant is different and thrives in different conditions.
If a parent teaches their child how to plant different crops and how to take care of plants, they'll be more compassionate towards nature or appreciate the foods that they're eating.
They may even enjoy eating more vegetables and fruits, knowing how much effort it takes to grow them!