Beyond the 3 R’s

row of students

Besides the usual reading, ‘writing, and ‘arithmetic, I’m all for teaching our kids alterative paths of learning that will serve them for life, and not only to shine on standardized tests.

Taken one of my favorite blog posts, from the site Zen Habits, about forming life skills, I’d like to share ten ways both parent and teacher can help your child flourish this school year and beyond without textbooks:

1. Frugality.  No, you can’t “have it all,” and frankly, don’t need to. Teach about being content with what’s already  in your life, and treating all things with care and appreciation.

2. Critical thinking. This is something that is a  forgotten art, due to so much info overload, and the mantra of supplying the “right answer”. Let them explore the whys beyond the whats, and don’t be afraid to have them ask questions.

3. Charity. Learning to share one’s money and times is so important in becoming  a well-rounded humanitarian. Giving to others and to worthwhile causes strengthens character, and a sense of connectedness to others.

4.Compassion. “Walk a mile in my shoes” is not merely an oft-heard saying, but true. When we can develop the habit of empathy for others, the urge to put others down, or be inconsiderate is less likely

 5. Reading. Not just for book reports only, reading can open doors to ideas and experiences that can’t be found on the computer or TV screen. Let kids see us reading for the pure joy of it,, and they’ll pick up the habit.

6. Motivating oneself. Setting and achieving goals is how one moves forward. When our kids learn how to set their own sights for a desired outcome, they are better equipped to use their inherent creative powers.

7. Listening. It’s one thing to be constantly talking, but there’s another aspect to that—keep quiet and listen to the other person. Just because one is quiet doe not mean you’re only waiting to get your own point in. Listening is as important as talking to someone. That’s how dialogues are formed.

8. Paying bills. Meeting financial obligations, no matter how small, develops trustworthiness, and also, the being aware of reasoning behind creating those bills in the first place. Being n debt is not a given, but a choice that far too many of us have gotten ourselves into.

9. Anti-competition. Now that’s a hard one, as being No. 1 always seems to be desired, and at times, necessary, to have success in life. As adults, we too, need to step back from so much competitiveness, and focus more on teamwork and cooperation.

10. Finding a purpose. Teach our kids that they are here for a reason, to make a difference on this planet, to enrich the lives of others. They are not accidents of life, and need to be constantly reminded of their originality, and how to put it to use wisely. In doing that with the young ones, we also reinforce  that we are here to create lasting contributions and relationships.


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