At some point, your kids are going to outgrow the need for your help with their homework. With the kitchen sink full of dishes, bills to pay and to-do lists to conquer, chances are that’s just fine with you — especially if your kids are taking classes that weren’t even offered when you were in school.
But that doesn’t mean you don’t play a critical role in your children’s education in other ways. Here are five beyond-the-books life skills to teach your kids that they may not learn in school.
Use real-life examples to show where financial pitfalls occur. For example, those “No payments for a year” ads might make you skeptical, but to kids, it may it look like a good deal. Teach them how to read the fine-print details and to be on the hunt for those sneaky asterisks.
With college comes a deluge of credit card offers and if your child doesn’t understand the consequences of accumulating a large balance on a high interest-rate card, they could be paying down that debt well beyond their 20s.
If they miss an assignment or get up late, they’re not going to get fired from school — and you know that doesn’t relate well to the real world. So when they make a misstep, give them the real scoop about what it means to be late for work or to miss a deadline.
Sitting in detention is one thing — but missing out on bonuses and the corner office might hit home a little harder. Bad habits in the classroom can predict bad habits in the workplace.
Good manners count
If you’ve ever watched your kids goofing off at the mall, you probably know that good manners — and good grammar for that matter — often go by the wayside.
You don’t have to rain on their parade, but you can illustrate the differences between how they behave now with how they’ll need to behave in the future.
Take them to work with you when they have a day off from school, or attend a local school board or city council meeting so they can observe how adults communicate in a business setting.
Household chores aren’t optional
By college, your child should know how to wash clothes, cook up a quick meal — besides ramen noodles — and keep things in (relatively) good order.
You might even want to show them how to sew on a button and iron a shirt. Then let them take over for a weekend, while you sit back and enjoy the results.
Work on career skills
Have your child visit job sites on the Web and read job descriptions for careers that interest them.
Encourage your kids to think about their career goals and craft a résumé that includes teams they’ve played on, clubs they’ve belonged to or volunteer jobs they’ve held. This résumé can help immensely when your child is looking for that first summer job.
Your child may not think playing soccer relates to a dream of becoming a lawyer, but competition and teamwork are skills that translate from the field to the courtroom.