To observe, enjoy and create in everyday life

Life School








Over the last number of years, our family has had a number of days we've labeled "Life School." These are times set aside with the intention of teaching our boys something that we want to ensure they know before leaving the home. Life School goes beyond doing simple household chores like vacuuming or putting dishes away. Many Life School times are simple, like teaching the boys how to properly iron or fold a shirt. And other nights are what I am not embarrassed to call a "guy" skill night...like snaking the drain in the bathtub. (Yes, maybe I should attend that Life School session. But so far I have not been in attendance... and no one has called me on it.) For the most part, all Life Schools are meant to help the boys be more responsible and self-reliant when they are on their own.

Some Life School nights start with a small skill and build to bigger ones. Cooking would be a good example of this. When the boys were quite young, I taught them how to scramble an egg, cook a package of ramen, or throw together some other simple food item. Now, at sixteen and eighteen, they each plan for and cook a full meal one night a week. I love when they cook dinner for us. Our younger boy, Alex, is quite adventurous in his cooking. Recently he made some fantastic gyros, and around Christmas time he took the time to make a delicious dinner of pork-filled bao. This week Jackson baked a batch of sugar cookies because he thought we needed a tasty cookie to go with our tea. Both boys have discovered that cooking and baking are fun hobbies, and they will be able to feed themselves something beyond a bowl of Top Ramen when they are living on their own.

Teaching the boys how to use various power tools or work beside Brandon in building and remodeling projects over the years has been another set of Life School "classes." In working alongside Brandon, one boy has discovered that while he can use tools, these are not his favorite type of projects. Our other son has learned that he really enjoys working with his hands and seeing a project go from a drawing on paper to a real life, useable object. He is now preparing to study Project Management next year at college. Exposing Jackson and Alex to these types of life skills has opened their eyes to the possibilities (or not) of future careers.

Our most recent Life School sessions have been centered around personal finance. Years ago my husband found Dave Ramsey's radio show while traveling the highways of Montana and Idaho on work trips. Dave Ramsey teaches listeners how to pay down their debts, make a plan for their money, and save for emergencies all with the idea of making a positive change in their families. There are books of his you can purchase or local classes you can attend to learn more about all of this. (this is not a sales pitch...just telling you what we did).

As a young couple following Ramsey's program, it was life changing. Brandon and I adopted many of Ramey's methods and have been consistent with them for almost 20 years now. But where would we be if we had started out debt free? If we began adulthood with no student loans or credit card debt? What if we had an understanding of how money worked, how to budget it, created sinking funds for future purchases instead of charging them and had set up a fund for emergencies? Think of the stress and misunderstandings we could have skipped.

With all of this in mind, our family has been sitting down every Wednesday night for the last couple of months to tackle the lessons in Foundations in Personal Finance: High School Edition. Our goal with these Life School sessions is to help our boys make sound decisions about their money and how they manage it. These are lessons we began to learn in our late twenties, but our boys are learning and applying them as teens. It's exciting to me that they will have this foundation to begin their adult lives. The conversations these lessons have led to have been an added bonus.

The thing about Life School though is that it doesn't have to be limited to kids. Even adults can participate. Is there a life skill you've always wanted to learn, like how to fix a broken appliance, change a car tire, or roast a chicken? Whatever it is, I encourage you to set a goal, find a resource or mentor and do it! We are never too old to learn something new. Taking the time and dedication to learn various life skills may save you money, time, or stress. It will certainly build your confidence. And, who knows, it may be life changing.

So... what would it be for you? What is a Life School session that you would set up for yourself?

 

6 comments:

  1. Hello Bekah! I think it is brilliant that you are teaching your sons about personal finance. Other lessons - like how to cook, use tools, change a tire, etc. - are definitely important, but I believe financial education / literacy is one of the most important gifts you can give to your children. By no means are my husband and I wealthy or financial gurus. And, many of our lessons were under the hard hand of experience. BUT, I learned how to budget from a young age sitting around the dining room table and watching my mother. I joke that there I learned how to pull a dime out of a nickel. While I've always been the best budgeter and kept the bills paid, learning how to build a savings and dig out of debt came later in life. I wish I would have understood those two branches of the money tree better. So again, applause for you and your husband and making financial education a priority!

    Cooking is another "you absolutely must need to know how to do this" life lesson. I remember a long time ago I worked with this incredibly smart statistician who was in her early 20s. She was terrified of cooking! To her, the thought of boiling water seemed like a risky kitchen endeavor. She was simply overwhelmed. Her daily meals were takeout or prepackaged - or something like a yogurt and banana. I told her, just follow the recipe. Start small. But she couldn't even bring herself to do that.

    By the way, your sons' kitchen creations sound awesome! I had to look up pork filled bao and oh my... that sounds so good! I think I'll have to look for a recipe and give it a try. Kudos to your sons for being adventurous! :-)

    I do not have children of my own, but had I traveled that path, I definitely would have focused on teaching critical thinking. I believe that's missing in a lot of classrooms and I certainly think that's fueling a lot of the problems we're witnessing in our everyday life right now. I would also introduce the idea of philosophy and the (in my opinion) necessity of listening to and considering other viewpoints and perceptions. This past December, I sent my great-niece Sophie "Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy" for Christmas. (Sophie turns 10 this coming week.) I wish for her the opportunity to learn and time to think.

    Life lessons... for me? Oh, I am sure there are many I should learn. From "letting go" of things I cannot control, to knitting. (Why oh why do I stink at knitting?) But in the short term, I'll just keep working at honing my gardening skills and putting up food. That is something that I believe is really necessary and will certainly serve this household well. :-)

    Well, that's quite the ramble I left you! LOL! I do love reading about GREAT parenting, Bekah. Kudos to you and your hubby! Hope your family is doing well and staying healthy! XO!

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    1. We've had a few teens over at our house who have yet to learn how to cook up a box of mac n cheese. It really makes me worry for them as adults! Although maybe they will keep the restaurant industry and meal prep kit industry in business???

      But I agree with your 100%. Regardless if you know how to cook a meal, change a tire or grow a plant, knowing the ins and outs of how money works and how you can make it work for you is so, so important. It's unfortunate that it doesn't get taught in all its fullness when kids are younger. Think of how strong of a country we would have! It's not about having a ton of money. It's about knowing what you have and deciding how to appropriately spend and save (so living within our limits...not often the fun/easy choice). And its not really all about money either. Paying attention to your money, budgeting each month, and saving for future expenses, all of these help strengthen family relationships, build communication, bolsters one's independence, eliminates some anxiety and so much more. I am not a numbers person. Ask my husband...when we started down this path, balancing the checkbook was such a chore for me! I dreaded the idea of moving beyond that. But, I am sold now. What a difference it has made in our marriage. We are now on the same page when it comes to our household money, and that one thing spills over into so many other areas. Ok. Stepping off my soapbox ;)

      And, onto another one! Critical thinking. Whew, yes! This is something we talk with our boys about often. Questioning what you read, what you hear. What are the sources, are they reliable? How did this person arrive at this conclusion? If you don't agree, why? If you both disagree with one another, what is at the root of the issue? Often you both are wanting to see the same thing happen/exist/etc, but you see a different path to get there. So how do you meet in the middle? Is it possible in this instance? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Over, and over, and over. We think debate class should be brought back as required coursework. It would really challenge students to look at all sides of an issue for understanding.

      There is so much to Life School, isn't there?!? Your learning to let go of things that are out of your control is right up there with patience for me. I figure patience is a life long skill to work on...I'm a work in progress :) I would love to knit well, but I can't seem to pull it off. I understand how to knit, but my hands do not always want to comply. I keep falling back on crochet instead. Maybe it's because crochet is what I was taught first? But there are so many cool knit patterns out there! I need crochet to make a come back in a big way. Then I would be set. I love seeing what you and your husband are able to grow on your property and preserve! It's commendable what you both do! I wish you an abundant growing season ahead.

      Hope your week is off to a great start!
      Bekah

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  2. I enjoyed this post, we homeschool and incorporate life school as well. Our girls know how to iron, plant a garden, cook, mend, wash clothes, and they are learning to manage their money. I like to use tools for DIY projects they are learning to use the basic with me. They have help me paint walls and baseboards as well. I think children need to learn things like this before they move out. Have a Blessed week!!

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    1. I bet your girls enjoy learning these things right alongside you! I often find when a child's (or in my case, teen's) hands are busy, they are open to talking about things on their mind. It's been a great way to get conversations going as well as learning a new skill. Plus, you're building memories with them.
      Have you started any seeds yet for the upcoming growing season? We need to have some land cleared, graded and then fenced all before I can put a garden in at our new place. The work should be started soon, but I am not going to try and stress over getting a garden in this year. I will grow some things in pots and then make big plans for next year :)
      Hope you and your family are well.

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  3. This is great Bekah! I wish my parents had taught me these things when I was a kid. I think that homeschooling gives you more opportunities to work 'real life' situations into your curriculum. Plus you are a maker and doer so that helps you get creative in the things you teach your boys. Anyway, most of the things I've learned have been as an adult and I'm totally self taught. Some things I'm better at than others. I love Dave Ramsey. I think he makes a lot of sense. Sometimes when I'm thinking about spending money on something (such as the new camera) I often think "What would Dave say about this". And I know he would not approve of the spending the money on the camera considering we are still carrying some consumer debt (that I have a plan to pay off this year. But still, I know he wouldn't approve the purchase).

    So kudos to you and your husband for teaching these life skills. I still have lots that I want to learn!!

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    1. Yes, asking "What would Dave say" can make or break some decisions! I always think of of Ramsey's plan to get out of debt as similar to being on a diet. There are very hard and fast rules, and if you follow them to the letter...you get results faster. But, life happens sometimes. In the diet example, you attend a birthday party and your hands down favorite dessert is served. Can you pass it up, sure. Can you choose to have a small piece and not allow that to completely knock you off your path, absolutely. Working on your financial freedom would be no different. Did you find a great deal on a camera, yep. Could you have chosen to save up and pay cash, sure. Will having chosen to buy it now throw you off your course to paying off debt this year...probably not. We get to choose the intensity and the pace at which we reach our goals. But we won't meet our goals (whether they be financial or health or whatever) if we are not consistently moving toward them, checking ourselves and our decisions, with a little treat or two along the way :)
      It looks as if you are really enjoying your new camera! I'm glad you found one. I'm tempted sometimes to buy one, but it hasn't made it up there on my priority list of things-I-must-have. Maybe one of these days. Photography is such a great skill/hobby to learn!

      Hope your week is going well.

      PS Our boys are not homeschooled (well, COVID has changed that a bit...they've been distance learning for the last year). So they are the lucky recipients of extra 'homework' when it comes to courses like Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance. We have been setting aside one night a week to work through the course together, talk about it, take the quizzes, etc. They don't complain though. Our oldest, a senior in high school this year, had asked to learn more about personal finances before he left for college. Now the other life school times, like learning to unclog a drain, there may have been some grumbling :) But, now they know!

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