As we reach the end of 2020, I’m sure we all can agree that this school year has been far from normal. Whether your kids have returned to in-person classes or moved to remote learning, we have all experienced the different learning styles the pandemic has introduced us to. As a family, this time spent in the unknown is a great opportunity to learn from each other. It could be something as silly as a TikTok dance your kids are obsessed with or something more fundamental like how to balance a checkbook. This unprecedented time together can create a perfect storm for valuable life lessons to be learned. Consider delving into the areas highlighted below as a way to jumpstart some family learning.
Basic Life Skills
This time together can give you the perfect chance to run through some basic life skills with your kids (and even your spouse). From sewing to first aid, even cooking or laundry, spending time navigating these skills together can not only benefit each of you individually but the family as a whole. Teaching your older kids the family’s secret sauce recipe or showing your preteens the hack you learned for folding a fitted sheet allows them to take up new responsibilities in the home. It also gives them a better understanding of how they will be able to handle life once they are outside of your four walls.
Money is easily spent and rather hard to save. Regardless if your kids are in elementary school or they are off at college, finding time to talk about spending and saving habits is important. For your younger kids, starting off with understanding the basics of wants and needs, a piggy bank to store their allowance, and an understanding of incentives will help them create a better relationship with money. For your older kids in high school, and even in college, it’s important to be transparent with them about your own financial situation. Typically, this helps to give them real-world examples of how money can affect things. Going over credit card bills or showing them your bank statements will allow them to ask questions and learn first-hand about finances. Small learning experiences like this can lead to some great questions like: What exactly is a credit score? How do you save to buy a car? What is a mortgage and how to get approved for one? What happens if I make a late payment to a bill? These conversations can be incredibly helpful for your kids when they are ready to set out on their own and handle the real-life implications of their money.
Mental health is becoming a cornerstone topic during these unprecedented times. Isolation, depression, and anxiety are all on the rise during the pandemic. Speaking openly and honestly with your kids about mental health and the importance of checking in on oneself will help strengthen your relationships and reinforce positive coping skills. Consider implementing a technology blackout window during the day to limit everyone’s screen time and social media use to give their brains a break. During that time you may try to encourage your family to try an activity together that will benefit everyone’s mental health like a painting or host your own art show.
This is an area from which every member of the family can learn. Having discussions about the things each of you find important, what brings joy to your days, what you find valuable in relationships and in life, and the strong convictions you may have as a person, are all things that can teach you about each other and yourselves. Enriching these bonds will create a stronger family unit and one created from deep understanding. Consider having a family spotlight night. Essentially, you would dedicate one night a week to a different person in which you explore the things they like, their favorite foods, their favorite music or movies, their favorite family activity, etc. Young or old, big or small, you each have a value set that might differ from those around you and it’s important to explore those areas to form a better understanding of who you all are as people. Not just a mom, a son, a daughter, a dad, but as a person.
Oftentimes you’ll hear from young students that they wish they were able to spend more time learning about these types of real-life topics in school. Being at home provides the perfect opportunity to focus on important life lessons like these. Learning isn’t something that happens just inside the confines of the classroom. Our entire lives we are learning new things in all-new ways. Using this time as a family to learn from and with each other can make this world of unknowns a bit more bearable.