We’re minimalist parents and homeschooled our four children in a small mobile then an old fixer-upper house. Home maintenance and repair was integral to our homeschooling. Often schools teach impractical disciplines, like algebra, that students will never use. They don’t teach applications and real-world connections. Kids promptly forget material that has no bearing in their lives. I taught practical skills interactively. Now our kids are self-reliant, productive and sensible. They budget, save and care for themselves. Here are ways to teach these skills to kids.
DIY. My husband works maintenance and there’s little he can’t repair. Our vehicles have rarely seen garages. Since they were babies, kids watched then began to actively participate. They’ve seen how we save money learned to do likewise. One son is now a certified EMS mechanic. Both repair their own vehicles and possessions. Oldest son just saved $770 on garage fees replacing a damaged rocker panel. He maintains the cooperative housing unit he shares, too.
Start early. Set baby’s stroller near where you’re working. Have toddlers hold flashlights and parts. Kids can corral materials (those wretched screws and washers that get lost). Have children fetch tools. These teach vocabulary, sequencing and organization. Have children assist more and more as they’re able.
Child-size activities. Invest in child-sized, real tools, utensils and implements. Do family projects using them. Keep a step stool handy and set up work areas near you so kids can watch, experiment and help.
Teach as you go. Explain what you are doing and why. Show how systems work together. Whatever you’re doing–painting, repairing, organizing, gardening, laundry, cooking, cleaning–keep up a steady conversation with kids, even babies. Ask and answer questions.
Model and imitate. Doing is better learning than seeing and hearing . Demonstrate safety, tool handling, planning, design. L et kids try for themselves. Quiz and correct mistakes. When replacing siding screws, the kids–5,4 and 2–assisted. I can still see the stair step row of heads working together, each happily wielding his tiny screwdriver, doing his part.
Learn together. We learned a lot by trial and error. The kids learned with us. When doing something new, involve kids. Discuss options, brainstorm, elicit feedback and validate ideas. Try ideas. If they fail, discuss what you learned. Use feedback to springboard to other ideas. This process-learning teaches higher order thinking skills: analysis, application, synthesis, evaluation.