Based on my life experiences as a mom, grandma, and educator, I believe life skills are more important than academics. This is especially true during times of great stress, chaos, and confusion in the world. Continue reading to learn how I have come to this conclusion. You will learn about many critical life skills your children can acquire while at home with you.
You should also read Education is Key to Success: But What Does That Mean? to learn more about how and why life experiences are so important for education.
I often can’t figure out which hat I am wearing at any given time. I have MOM thoughts, GRANDMA thoughts, EDUCATOR thoughts, LIFE EXPERIENCE thoughts, and many more.
Sometimes I have them all at once and they don’t necessarily align – then my brain holds scattered thoughts and conflict. But I am always certain of one thing! Everyone needs essential life skills!
Teach Your Child Essential Life Skills
During this worldwide pandemic, my thoughts are aligned in two critical areas:
DO NOT STRESS ABOUT YOUR CHILD FALLING BEHIND IN SCHOOL. I can say this as a mom, grandma, and educator. Your child will catch up in academics.
AND, ESSENTIAL LIFE SKILLS ARE MORE IMPORTANT RIGHT NOW. You must be modeling and teaching your child compassion, teamwork, patience, emotional regulation, and other essential life skills rather than focusing on academic instruction – especially if it is creating turmoil and distress for your child and your family.
You may even want to consider creating a Calm Corner or Emotional Escape Room in your home to support your child’s growth in the area of emotional regulation during this challenging time.
Essential Life Skills for ALL
When I was teaching in a deeply disadvantaged elementary school community in the nineties, I often had friendly debate with colleagues about the importance of homework.
You see, my students were coming from homes where they often did not have dinner. They could be woken from sleep during any night by gunfire or their parents could be arrested as they watched in horror.
There were also students who only knew a lifestyle of abuse and neglect or they may not have had parents or adults in their home on any given night. Very few of my students slept in a bed. I knew their realities because I visited the families in their homes. We read the stories in the newspaper each morning and heard them on the news.
It was horrible to listen to my 7-8 year old students share their fears with me. They were doing the BEST they could do given their circumstances. And sadly, most did not have adults in their lives who taught them essential life skills or coping skills to know how to manage.
As an educator, I did not want my students to be burdened with the responsibility of school work at home when they had real life challenges to face each night. Thus, I did not complicate their lives with homework.
Struggles for Parents
During the years when I was teaching and my two children were in school, I certainly understood the stress that working parents felt as they tried to manage daily routines and responsibilities while also providing support for school work at home. At times, it seemed we were giving up quality family time, recreational activities, and peace of mind due to school work.
Children should be able to play outside, run through the woods, spend quality time exploring together, and develop friendships. Our limited family time at home was being replaced by school work.
It was very stressful to find a balance of work and school and family.
As a mom, I hated that my children were missing out on normal life experiences I had as a child because I was working. And I did not want other working parents to stress about school work at home because it can damage relationships and put stress on everyone!
THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING IN HOMES TODAY BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC AND THE CHALLENGES FACING SCHOOL SYSTEMS. Everyone is struggling with emotional regulation and compassion.
Stuggles for Grandparents, Too
When I became a grandmother, I watched my own children and their spouses struggle with time and the responsibilities of the world.
With each generation, the world has become more stressful, more active, more complicated, and more people suffer from mental health challenges. I hate seeing my grandchildren in a position where they are dealing with the stresses of the world.
They will face a lifetime of grown-up stresses when they are no longer under their parents’ roof. They should be creating memories with grandparents who won’t be around forever. Those memories are priceless.
Plus, children learn essential life skills and coping skills directly from families who value time together and emotional security.
Thus, as a grandmother, I do not want my grandchildren dealing with the stresses of the current pandemic.
They should have nothing but a sense of security, love, and strength provided by their parents and grandparents. They should be witnessing adults who are modeling important life skills that will help them navigate the challenges of life in their adults years.
But parents are struggling with financial stressors, job challenges, health concerns, and more – ALL while trying to deal with the complications of helping children figure out how to LEARN in the strange and unfamiliar situation of distance learning.
This is unhealthy for ALL.
What SHOULD Parents Do?
So how do all my experiences and hats lead me to advise parents NOT TO STRESS ABOUT YOUR CHILD FALLING BEHIND IN SCHOOL during this time?
Instead of stressing about your child falling behind in school, REMEMBER ESSENTIAL LIFE SKILLS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACADEMICS RIGHT NOW and consider these alternatives:
Your child can learn coping skills from you during this time.
Your child can learn teamwork from you during this time.
Your child can learn compassion from you during this time.
Your child can learn emotional regulation from you during this time.
Your child can learn patience from you during this time.
Your child can learn tolerance from you during this time.
Your child can learn acceptance from you during this time.
Your child can learn about HOPE from you during this time.
And your child can learn STRENGTH from you during this time.
Remember, your child is watching how you handle anxiety during this difficult time in our history. Teach them how to adapt to life challenges.
You can communicate with their teachers; support whatever web-based/distance learning is arranged by your district; be patient with your school system because this is all new to them; stay in a routine and provide structure at home; provide your children with love, compassion, empathy, and patience; but do not stress about your child falling behind in school.
They are going to return to school when this is over and they will go on being kids! In twenty years, the academic learning they missed during this pandemic will not matter – but the life skills you model and teach them will be essential to their lives.
As you are doing the best you can do, just remember LIFE SKILLS are more important than academics right now and you and your family should focus on emotional regulation, teamwork, coping skills, LOVE, and other IMPORTANT LIFE SKILLS.
Love to ALL! ~ Susan
If you want more information about why and how life skills are critical to your child’s overall development as an individual, check out this article from AskEduCareer… it’s loaded with great information: 10 Essential Life Skills You Must Learn.