The number of American homeschooled children grew by nearly 300,000 between 2007 and 2013, from 1.5 million to 1.77 million, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Homeschoolers now represent 3.4 percent of the school-age population.
For parents, homeschooling represents an opportunity to teach children not only academic subjects, but also vital life skills that aren’t necessarily emphasized in traditional curricula. Here are four areas where homeschooling parents can teach their children valuable real-life skills that fall outside traditional academic subjects.
Traditional education often does not emphasize practical money management skills, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s Consumer Financial Literacy Survey. Three out of five American adults do not have a budget in which they closely track their spending, 3 in 10 are not saving anything for retirement, and only 3 in 5 Americans would give themselves an A or a B in their knowledge of personal finance.
Parents.com contributor Anna Attkisson outlines some ways parents can teach young children about money at different ages. Pre-school-age children can play store and help parents clip and use coupons at real stores to learn the basics of shopping, saving and exchanging money.
Children ages 6 to 8 receiving an allowance can take a trip to the bank and learn how to deposit money into a savings account. Children 9 to 12 can help parents do comparison shopping by reading labels and prices, and can also help organize and run a yard sale. Such activities can be integrated into homeschool math courses.
Health and Wellness
Each day, more than one-third of American children ages 2 to 19 eat pizza, fried chicken, tacos, or fast food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meantime, 12.1 percent of these children receive 40 percent of more of their daily calories from fast food, and 10.7 percent receive 25 percent to 40 percent of their calorie intake from fast-food sources. Homeschooling parents can take greater steps to improve their children’s health by teaching good nutritional habits.
Homeschooling mother Marci Goodwin suggests a teaching exercise that uses the USDA’s My Plate graphic, which illustrates the principles of a balanced diet by classifying foods into the five major food groups. Goodwin has kids make a list of their favorite foods in each category and then plan healthy meals based on their selections, using the website’s serving size recommendations.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends children ages 6 to 17 engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, but only 27.1 percent of high school students meet this standard, according to the CDC. Homeschooling parents can help their kids develop healthier exercise habits by incorporating physical education into their children’s curriculum. Simple Home School contributor Sarah Small suggests several strategies for teaching physical education to home-school kids.
Get kids active by introducing backyard and playground games, such as tag, hopscotch and kickball. Put together a home workout by creating a list of cardio and strength-training exercises kids can do two or three times a week. Take 15-minute walks once a day. Send kids on bike-riding breaks. Use the Couch to 4K Running Plan to gradually introduce kids to distance running.
Young drivers who have not taken driver’s education classes are 75 percent more likely to get a traffic ticket, 16 percent more likely to get in an accident and 24 percent more likely to be involved in a fatal accident, according to a study by the Nebraska Prevention Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Parents of children who are too young to earn a learner’s permit can still take early opportunities to teach safe-driving principles, such as demonstrating how right of way works and the meaning of different traffic signs. Driving-Tests.org provides online tools for learning to read road signs and other regulations drivers must know. For older children, some states recognize approved parent-taught drivers’ education programs.