In middle school, I took a life skills class. My two big takeaways came from two wildly different activities. First, and the reason I took the course, for two weeks we carried around a sandbag baby. I remember seeing the kids carrying them, and how they decorated them, and found baby clothes for them and thought it was fascinating. I learned from that, I did not want to have kids yet. A valuable lesson for a junior high kid to learn. Next, I learned about budgeting. I’m going to come back to in a minute. You’re going to want to try this with your own kids, and it’s way too long to cover in a quick introduction to an online life skills class.
(This post is sponsored by Mr. D math, I’ve been hearing great things about his classes for years, and now I FINALLY get to try his classes out for myself, or for my kids)
Why teach life skills?
You know what some of the biggest complaints of employers, or realities of life right now?
“Kids these days don’t know how to do basic things.” Jeff and I encountered this in college 20 years ago, and it’s why our kids have chores.
There’s a broader range of academic life skills I knew I needed to cover, and I KNOW it’s not my specialty. Balancing a budget (can we send Congress to learn this?, that’s a totally different topic), saving for retirement, time management, goal setting, college application writing (very important I learned at the homeschool convention last weekend), and so many more.
Life Skills Story Time
Several years ago I helped move a friend out of her apartment and back into her parents’ house. At one point I was riding with her Dad, and he said, “She didn’t understand how rent worked. She thought it was like paying a minimum payment on your credit card, and so she was evicted for lack of payment.”
This was a full grown adult, not a fresh out of high school kid. She was old enough to have graduated from college.
Learning Life Skills with Mr. D. Math
Life skills with Mr. D math is a semester-long high school class you can count for a half credit on your high school transcript. On the life skills class page, Mr. D. suggests classifying this class as leadership development.
I signed up Princess to take the life skills class first because she’s the one I think needs the most grounding and time to process ideas like this. I plan to send Superman through the class next, that should be an interesting discussion.
So far, here’s what I’ve heard from Princess:
- Mom, do you have a credit card? How do you use it?
- Mom, how are you saving for retirement?
- Mom, what stocks do you have?
- Mom, can you help me research stocks for an assignment?
I never thought I’d hear these questions from Princess. None of this is in an area she’s interested in, but she’s talking to me about it.
I’m really looking forward to how the boys react to this class. On my list of things to do in the next few weeks is sit down and plan a rough idea of high school, so I’ll have an idea then of when each kid will take it.
How the Mr. D life skills class works
Each week, we get an email with the login for the class, and Princess watches a live interactive lesson taught by Mr. D. During the class they discuss the lessons and what they did, and they are each given an assignment to complete over the week.
They upload their assignment to the class website (a process that is remarkably similar to many college classes now, from what I’ve heard), and are encouraged to interact with other students in the class.
Mr. D. goes in and grades their work before the next class and provides feedback. For the purposes of our homeschool, Princess then takes a screenshot of her grade and uploads it to Learnly for me to put into my grade book. She’s doing awesome at it, and I’m loving what she’s learning.
Totally unrelated to the Life Skills class
I just saw, there’s a Mr. D American Sign Language class. I’ll have to point that out to Princess because she was interested in learning sign language for her foreign language in high school…
My other memory of my life skills class
Even if you don’t take Mr. D.’s Life Skills class (but, really? Why wouldn’t you?), you can still try out what I had to do all those years ago in junior high.
Our teacher tasked us to set a budget for a month. We had to look in the newspaper, yes this was in the dark ages when you looked at a newspaper to find an apartment, and find an apartment. Then we had to talk to our parents about how much they spent on food each month to create a food budget. We slowly but surely walked through each element of a budget: a place to live, food, entertainment, clothing, all of that stuff.
I very specifically remember putting an entertainment budget of $100 a month. That was enough for horseback riding lessons each month, AND $20 left over. My Mom attempted to point out I might want to do something else, but I calmly replied, “Mom, that’s what the library is for. I’ll just ask for books and movies for Christmas presents.”
After I’d added it all up, we then had to figure out what was the minimum salary we needed to make. I remember figuring out I needed a minimum of $20 an hour to do everything I wanted. At the time that seemed like a huge sum of money, and I knew there was no way I’d get that much without a college degree. Which I suspect, was part of their goal. Get every kid to go to college.
I don’t remember how long that particular unit was, but I do know Mr. D.’s life skills class has its financial literacy section of the class four weeks long. It includes a special guest to talk about financing a car.
The final call on Mr. D Life Skills
She’s still in the middle of the class, but I’m loving the discussions Princess and I have had from it, so for that I’d say it’s a big win.