Essential Non-Academic Skills To Teach Our Children

What would you consider to be essential non-academic skills for your child to learn?

I posed this question to a few Facebook groups and made a master list of all the responses. (And, of course, added my own.) After eliminating repeats and a few suggestions that were just kind of out in left field, I began to see recurring themes.

I organized the list into six main categories: self-care and emotional intelligence, personal and community safety, communication skills, critical thinking, maintaining a household, and financial management. Many could easily overlap; I tried to put them where they made the most sense to me.

{I should add here that my use of "non-academic" is not meant to imply these skills cannot (or should not) be taught in school. Clearly things like writing (language arts), first aid (health) and government (civics) are covered in most folks' K-12 journey. It's more of a shorthand for indicating these qualities would be ideal for everyone to have as adults, without regard to formal schooling. However, Essential Skills To Teach Our Children Irrespective of Level of Education, Chosen Field of Study or Career, or Lifestyle just didn't have the same ring to it.}

Self-Care and Emotional Intelligence
  • setting personal boundaries
  • respecting the personal boundaries of others
  • basic understanding of human psychology
  • how to read body language and social cues
  • managing emotions
  • appropriate ways to de-stress
  • how to win (and lose) gracefully
  • prioritizing responsibilities/goals
  • taking charge of your own health (including preventative care)
  • sexual education

Personal and Community Safety

  • how to stand up for oneself
  • ability to de-escalate conflicts
  • water safety (not necessarily swimming skills)
  • transportation navigation and safety (walking, biking, driving, public)
  • what to do in an emergency
  • basic first aid knowledge
  • privacy (online and in real life)
  • staying safe when home alone
  • awareness of surroundings
  • recognizing signs of abuse/control/bullying

Communication Skills

  • basic social manners/etiquette
  • speaking clearly (in person and over the phone)
  • listening to understand
  • empathy
  • basic mediation skills
  • being well-read
  • effective writing ability 
  • computer skills (including typing)
  • applying/interviewing for a job
  • Internet navigation and safety
  • appropriate use of social media
  • how to negotiate

Critical Thinking

  • scientific literacy (including evaluating sources of information)
  • basic understanding of government and politics
  • real world problem solving
  • how to read documents (including contracts and leases)
  • making a realistic assessment of one's abilities and limitations
  • understanding cultural and religious references
  • how to spot a scam

Maintaining a Household

  • home and kitchen safety
  • minor home repairs (including how to find outside resources)
  • lawn/garden care
  • how to buy and maintain a vehicle (not necessarily doing the maintenance yourself)
  • how to move in/out of a home (including signing a lease)
  • setting up utilities (including evaluating providers and rates)
  • updating personal documents (e.g., will, power of attorney, insurance, license, passport)
  • grocery shopping
  • cooking
  • cleaning/laundry
  • sewing on a button/stitching small tear
  • baby/child care
  • basic understanding of child development

Financial Management

  • creating a budget
  • how credit works
  • understanding mortgages and loans
  • calculating interest
  • paying bills on time (including setting up automatic payments)
  • long-term planning and investing
  • basic understanding of economics
  • taxes (how to file your own or find resources)

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