Why the School System is Failing Our Kids
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What do our children need to learn in school? Facts and data that they’ll memorize and then forget? Or life skills that’ll give them the confidence to thrive no matter where takes them?
Based on what is taught in school, the answer should be related to science, math, English, history, and so on. But this isn’t necessarily the case, as evidenced by a recent Reddit thread that asked, “What is something all kids should know by the time they are 18?”
Are Kids Learning Essential Skills in School?
The conversation highlighted topics such as financial literacy and self-sufficiency that are not taught in school, calling into question the role of schools and why 12 years of education are necessary.
So what can we do (as parents and as a society) to better prepare our children for real life?
What Should Kids Learn Before Graduating?
Do our youth need to memorize formulas and equations, or do they need to be able to understand how to interact with the constantly evolving world around them? Let’s review the basics.
Basic Survival Skills
To thrive as an independent human being, some essential basics will ensure safety, security, and self-sufficiency.
One Reddit user comments, “How to make basic meals for themselves, laundry, basics of cleaning, hygiene, basics of taxes (would have helped me a whole lot), how to change a tire in emergency, basic first aid.”
Along these same lines, another comment, “Basic hygiene.”
My personal favorite answer is this: “How to shop for necessities, cook, sew on a button/ repair a rip, balance a checkbook, prepare a budget, write a resume, hold a conversation with different groups, and how to advocate for themselves.”
I don’t know about you, but I did not learn even one of these skills in my school years.
Empathy and Social Skills
People skills, or the ability to successfully interact with others and understand different points of view, are often overlooked when discussing what is important for children to learn.
“Kindness and empathy. A desire to learn and grow.” one user comments.
Plus, empathy also applies to a child’s own self-worth. Thus, this next piece of advice is very useful for all ages: “Decision-making and how to forgive themselves if they make the wrong decisions.”
Related: Is Social Media Exploiting Our Kids?
As mentioned before, financial literacy is a must-have skill that should be taught in school.
Financial responsibility and managing money are important skills that need to be learned to ensure a secure future.
In reality, many kids don’t grasp how spending works, particularly using credit. Making this comment is timely, “[Learning] how compound interest works.”
This comment hits home, too: “If you spend all your money, then you have none left. My friend (32) didn’t learn this until his 3rd bankruptcy.”
A sense of direction in life, even if it changes over time, is a key part of living a purposeful life.
One user writes, “Get good at failing. It’s the best way to learn.”
Another user comments, “To actually aim at something (a goal). So many just wander around aimlessly and are unsure about every move they make, aim at something and work towards it. Don’t aim crazy high, realistic attainable goals. Once you start doing it, you gain momentum and you never feel lost or unsure.”
While we all have different ambitions and goals in life (big and small), having a plan and a desire to work towards something will make all the difference.
How to Help Kids Prepare for Real Life
So the question remains, do our kids learn these important lessons at school? It’s hard to tell. Ultimately, kids will learn these important skills from a mixture of school, extracurricular, peer, and parental influence.
Of course, we can’t just blame the school system for the disparities in life skills education. Parents and extracurricular activities also play an important role in teaching these important lessons. Yet, our kids spend a large chunk of their days at school, making it a key time to focus on these subjects.
So why don’t schools teach budgeting 101, basic hygiene, social acuity, and more? Outdated curriculums, overworked teachers, and lack of funding are likely contributing factors. No wonder the number of children being homeschooled is on the rise.
Changing the Educational Narrative
If we can start to open up the conversation and focus more on these real-life skills, we can ensure that our kids are prepared for the future. Plus, as parents, we can lead by example and take the time to discuss these important life skills with our kids.
See the full Reddit thread here.