Thanks to ScholarShare for sponsoring this post.
Does your child have the life skills he needs to be successful when he leaves home for college?
With such a strong focus on academics for high school students, sometimes we miss teaching our kids some basic skills that will help them thrive.
I had a college roommate who told me she didn’t know how to do dishes.
As I found out, the issue went way beyond dishes. After we had been living together for about 6 months she came and asked me where the cleaning supplies were kept. She had her own bathroom and apparently had not cleaned it during the entire time we had been living in that apartment.
I was shocked.
I had to sit her down and explain that the bathroom needed to be cleaned far more often than once every 6 months and that, also, I didn’t provide her with cleaning supplies. For those, she would need to go to the store and buy her own.
That first year away from home was a serious struggle for her (and for us as her roommates) and thinking back on it makes me realize that I want to make sure my kids have the life skills they need so they can focus on their academics once they leave home to go to college.
Here are some of the top 20 life skills that college students need to know before leaving home.
How to fight their own battles. I spoke with a college professor once who was shocked that after handing a student a paper with a poor grade on it she burst into tears and called her mother . . . right in the middle of the class. A few minutes later, she handed him the phone and said, “she wants to talk to you.”
Learning to fight your own battles is one of the most important lessons of adulthood. The sooner our kids learn this, the easier life will be.
How to wash laundry correctly. Dragging a big bag of laundry to the laundromat is a rite of passage for every college student. Knowing the basics will help prevent any laundry mishaps and costly mistakes.
I once turned an entire load of white clothing an unfortunate shade of yellow — replacing a full load of laundry can be rough on a college student’s budget. Go through the basics with your high school student and have him practice doing his own laundry so it will be second nature by the time he leaves for college.
How to handle money. Too many college students rack up credit card debt because they don’t know how to manage their own money or they aren’t thinking ahead to the future when they will have to pay that money back. Teach your high school student how to manage their own money and create a budget so she will know how to live within her means while she was away at school.
Most of us probably had friends in college who would spend money as fast as they earned it. Learning how to save money is a skill that will save your college student a lot of grief in the future. We start practicing this skill early by having our kids help save the money they will need to pay for college.
You can open a ScholarShare 529 plan for as little as $25 and get your child in the habit of saving money rather than spending.
How to clean. Cleaning is part of life and, unfortunately, it is something that has to be done. Without mom around to do it for her, your college student will need to know the basics of cleaning and maintaining a home. Start early by giving your child increasing responsibility for household chores as he grows so that by the time he leaves for college cleaning up after himself will be a habit.
How to handle basic home-repair. If your child is living on campus, chances our most of the repairs will be handled by the school but what happens if something goes wrong in the middle of the night or when the maintenance man is busy? It’s useful to be able to handle the basics, like how to plunge a toilet and how to spackle a hole in the wall.
How to handle basic car repairs. If your child will have a car while she is away at college, she needs to know the basics of taking care of it. Your child may not need to know how to change the oil herself but she should at least know when the car needs an oil change and where to go to get it done. Does your child know what to do or who to call if she has a flat tire? Does she know what to do if the check engine light comes on in the car? Cover basic repair issues that may come up while she is away at school.
How to cook basic meals. Cooking is a basic life skill that everyone should have. I went away to school knowing how to cook just a handful of really good recipes and I made those all the time. I was still a beginning cook but apparently I knew more than everyone else in my dorm because as soon as I started cooking, half the building would show up at my door. Make sure your child has half a dozen or so go-to recipes she can cook and knows the basics of knife safety and technique, safe food handling techniques, and how to follow a new recipe.
How to carry on a conversation. Conversation is a bit of a lost art, especially for kids who are digital natives and are more comfortable texting than carrying on a conversation in person. Make sure your child knows to make eye contact with people when speaking to them and can comfortably make small talk when meeting new people. The first impression we make on people is often a lasting one and during a stage of life when your child will be meeting new friends, professors, and potential employers, the ability to make a good first impression is essential.
How to handle an emergency situation. For younger kids, knowing that they need to call “911” in an emergency may be enough but once your child is college-aged he needs to know so much more. Make sure your child knows basic CPR (you never know when you are going to need it), basic first aid, the Heimlich Maneuver, how to put out a kitchen fire, what to do if he is ever in an active shooter situation, and who to contact for help.
How to balance work and fun. Too many adults have not mastered this (myself included half the time) but it is an important skill to have. College puts a lot of demands on kids and that can be stressful. Make sure your child knows that as important as it is to work hard, it is also important to find time for the things that help us relax. Often, a little bit of downtime can help us be more productive when we get back to working.
If your child has mastered some of these basic life skills, his college experience will be much more rewarding.
What life skills do you hope your child has by the time he leaves for college?
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