When To Start Teaching Life Skills

Seth Godin recent shared his thoughts on key life skills that need to be taught in high school on his blog:

What’s high school for?
Perhaps we could endeavor to teach our future the following:

How to focus intently on a problem until it’s solved.
The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
How to read critically.
The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

I agree that these are important skills to learn but why do students need to start this learning in high school?

One life skill that we are trying to teach our boys is Can’t is not a word/ phrase that will lead you to success. Instead think or say – Boy, This Is Giving Me Some Trouble. Look at the situation from different perspectives and find a solution.

The other day my eldest son who is in grade 3 was doing his homework and he said he couldn’t do part of what was required – drawing pictures to illustrate his ideas. He said he couldn’t do it because he can’t draw. I sat down with him and said there is no such thing as “can’t” – you are simply having trouble and we need to figure out a solution. He told me he wasn’t allowed to have his parents help him. I replied I am not doing the work for you. Instead I am offering advice and suggestions. I suggested he trace pictures from the book. He is doing the work – I made the suggestion. Guess what? The pouting mouth turned right side up and he did the work himself. (Thank you to his teacher who is clearly instilling in her students that they need to do the work themselves.)

As a family we watch reality shows together – the oldies but the goodies – Survivor, The Amazing Race and Hell’s Kitchen. My husband and I believe that these programs will show our boys that if you work hard, you can succeed. (we also downplay the lying parts of Survivor- particularly Russell) Two years ago, one of the chefs on Hell’s Kitchen hurt his hand quite badly. My son who was 7 at the time said – he can’t go on. He only has one hand. Well, my husband and I explained that this opportunity was so important to the man that he likely wouldn’t give up. He would figure out how to keep going. If you are a fan of the show, you will remember that this candidate went all the way to the finals and won. Our son still remembers this and we occasionally will reference this situation when he is having a hard time with something.

With our family, life skills are taught whenever the opportunity arises. How about with you?


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