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  • justine441

Skills for Life

A conversation with the children’s Head teacher today inspired this post. She asked if we were following the school’s lockdown home curriculum on their website. I said honestly that we weren’t. We do dip in and out of it but we had struggled to access the online learning systems like Oak Academy. I explained the route we had taken and why (Pawprint badges; Guide badges; along with some formal work) but I said more than anything both children have learnt new skills useful to life.

At the start of lockdown Rosie was just starting to cook basic food like pizza or stirring pans. She can now confidently cook a range of family meals from lasagne to stuffed mushrooms or risotto to Chinese. She can also clear up afterwards too! That’s a huge change. She’s learnt other skills too in particular the importance of taking time to plan or prepare, whether it is for cooking or building something. She requested new wardrobes for her birthday and as part of that she had to accurately measure the available space and make tough decisions about what was reasonable to fit in there. She drew the room up to scale, and worked out quantities of items to order and the costings. She had to re-plan when we were unable to order our first choice of door size. She’s had to look for materials and read instructions. She’s had to learn how to handle and store tools safely. Above all, and this goes for both children, they have learnt to stop, to listen properly to instructions in order to be able to know what to do, and to complete a task successfully. They have learnt that if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and never to give up. Also that each of us are capable of achieving anything you want to do in life.

Rosie has learnt other skills such as checking the freezer door is properly shut (after it froze up); how to put on the dishwasher, how to make a decision about which washing cycle to use; how to make a bed beautifully; and how to tidy up.

Toby has been excellent at tidying up prior to meals and fed time. He loves nothing better than to have a duster in his hand and he was enthralled by the carpet washing machine. He knows when the cats need feeding, which food and how much and which bowl. He was already fab at sorting washing into lights and darks; but he now knows to put a washing capsule in, and a colour catcher last. He knows exactly what goes in the tumble dryer and what doesn’t. He had taken it upon himself to put the dry washing away as well. His bed is made every morning; he can empty the dishwasher successfully; and he’s learnt to shut the fridge if he goes into it for milk.

Both children have learnt gardening skills and we have tomatoes, onions and potatoes well on their way. Rosie has learnt other skills like how to pump up a bike tyre; how to fill and empty a paddling pool; how to weigh tricky items for posting; and rotating stocks of food by date order.

One big skill that Rosie has learnt is how to make a telephone call. I found it strange that an 11 year old didn’t know how to make or maintain a phone call, nor know the art of a two way conversation but we don’t phone people often. She’s learnt how to make a phone call; how to hold the telephone to her ear and mouth; how to ask polite introductory questions and listen to responses before asking the crux of the reason for the call (rather than just asking a direct question with no pleasantries). Also how to respond to a general question like ‘How are you?’ or ‘What have you been up to?’ with something relevant and interesting, and not simply ‘ok’ or ‘nothing much!’ Speaking to family on Alexa or on the phone has also encouraged Toby fo talk. His speech has really increased in quantity and quality through lockdown.

Both children have both learnt the art of patience and waiting. They have learnt teamwork and how working together gets things done more easily. They have learnt to look properly for items too. They have learnt patience, tolerance, kindness, thoughtfulness and how to share. They have learnt to help each other, but also to find their own space too.

I’m very proud of both children and how far each has developed in ways that formal education would never encourage or measure. I know both already have excellent life skills. First published 30.6.2020

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