Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Teaching New Dogs Old Tricks

Old Tricks for New Dogs?
Teaching 21st Century Students 20th, 19th, and 18th Century Skills

by Mikey Smith, M.Ed

A major catchphrase in education today is the term "Twenty-First Century Skills." These abilities include skills that will better prepare our students to take on challenges the future holds and include concepts like problem-solving, working collaboratively, integrating technology and media literacy. While no one is saying that these skills are not important and vital to our childrens' futures, what about the skills that are getting left behind? Classes like shop, home economics, keyboarding and the like are nowhere to be found on many school curriculum maps. But just because these skills are no longer being taught in schools does not mean that our students don't need to know them for the future. Here are a few 18th, 19th and 20th century skills that would probably be a good idea for your child to learn.

Budgeting & Banking Basics
Americans are in more debt now than ever, and much of that debt belongs to young people. As a matter of fact, a 2013 Ohio State University study found that young adults are racking up credit card debt at a more rapid rate than other age groups, and that they're slower at paying it off. It is even predicted that many new college graduates and other young adults will NEVER pay off their debts. Many kids and even young adults have no concept of the value of a dollar or how finances work. Why not give your kid insight into how to create a budget, how to save money and how to determine whether or not to make a purchase? Some lessons in fiscal responsibility today might help your child become a wiser consumer and avoid debt later.

Cooking Basics
Many parents cringe at the idea of giving their children sharp objects like knives or access to potentially dangerous appliances like an oven or stove. But there is no reason to think that most kids can't manage to make some basic meals that do not come out of a can or the microwave.

Still not convinced? Consider the childhood obesity epidemic, which continues to grow (no pun intended) despite myriad healthy-eating initiatives in schools and in the media. Even First Lady Michelle Obama's passionate commitment to creating healthier options for kids in schools isn't helping obesity rates. A spring 2014 study released by the CDC states that the total childhood obesity rate has remained a solid 17% over the past few years; however, the number of children and teens who are extremely obese increased from 3.8% to 5.9% between 1999 and 2012. Those with the most severe form of obesity - equal to an adult with a body mass index of 40 - increased from 0.9% to 2.1%. Yikes!

One key to healthier eating (and healthier lifestyles) is cooking at home, and involving kids in the process of planning and creating healthy meals. Of course it is important to teach kids how to cook safely, but even the youngest kids are capable of helping out with dinner preparation (who can't tear lettuce for salads?). Older kids can create their own menus and really get involved in the kitchen as well. What's more, cooking right now is a huge trend. There are tons of websites, magazines and even television shows aimed at young chefs, including Master Chef Junior, a cooking competition among kids aged 8 -13. Cooking as a family will not only foster more healthy eating habits but can also help bring your family together.

Writing Thank You Notes
Well-written expressions of gratitude are not just for your grandma, even in this digital age of texting and tweeting. Learning the art of carefully composed correspondence can help your child later in life with everything from composing intelligible emails to crafting that ever -important thank you note for an important interview. Consider this statistic from a 2013 study of 100 profiles on the career networking website LinkedIn: over a 10-year period, professionals who received one to four promotions made 45 percent more grammatical errors than did professionals who were promoted six to nine times.

While writing thank you notes and composing other pieces of correspondence might not turn your child into a prize-winning author, it will help him practice writing skills, and hone his ability to express his feelings coherently and sincerely.

Deciphering Laundry Symbols
This is a biggie and not just because it can save you tons of time and energy. Okay, saving you a lot of time and energy does have a lot to do with it, but laundry symbols are nearly universal and most children are capable of operating washing machines and dryers. While you probably don't want to have your 10-year-old washing your silk work shirts, a load of towels, undies, jeans and socks is perfectly appropriate. Washing (and folding!) clothes is a life skill that is always relevant and can help foster a sense of accomplishment and responsibility in children. As with many good habits, the earlier training is started, the more ingrained it will become over time.

While some middle and high schools offer this course as an elective, many do not, even though they often require most schoolwork to be typed. Additionally, in some states students as young as third grade will soon be require to input their answers on state and other standardized tests via a computer keyboard - even short answer and essay responses.

Although most kids are far more technologically savvy than their parents, research shows that most of them don't really know how to type in an efficient manner - they're all thumbs. Many of them have learned personalized hunt and peck strategies to help speed up their typing, but most of them do not know the "Home Row" of a keyboard from a hole in the ground. Encouraging your child to master the keyboard sooner rather than later will help them out not only now but in the future as more and more educational and professional opportunities require more and more keyboard savvy.

Sewing (at least a button) and Basic Household Repairs
This may seem like a stretch, especially to mothers of elementary school boys, but bear with me.  Practicing motions such as those needed to thread a needle, hammer a nail, use a screwdriver, etc. help develop fine motor skills and hand - eye coordination. Mastering new skills can also improve a child's confidence and self-esteem and help him feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done.


Raising the Bar offers many classes that teach "old school" skills with engaging, hands on "new school" classes. Check out the classes below for more information!

Young Men in Training - Grades 4th - 7th

Young Ladies in Training - Grades 4th - 7th

Keyboard Kids, JR - Grades 2nd - 5th

Keyboard Kids, SR - Grades 5th - 9th

What's Cookin'? JR - Grades 2nd - 5th

What's Cookin'? SR - Grades 5th - 9th

1 comment:

  1. Love these skill concepts! But even more so that our kids can be a part of our family team with these too!