Life skills I hope my children have…

Today’s address was inspired by two things – firstly a video I watch from time to time of a 30 year old rapper and performance artist known as Prince EA in which he takes on traditional education and education systems and secondly the stage I am in my personal life as a father where my children will, very soon, be leaving my home. Why I chose these two was because both of them ask questions about relevance. Prince EA questions what schools teach and whether products of the education system (ie you!) are ready for the working world, and my circumstances because as parents, I want my wife and me to have developed in my children the skills they need for the world they will face.

I can get philosophical at this stage and talk about how I want my children – both you and my own – to be nice to others, to be kind, loyal, helpful and caring human beings and how I want you to be able to think for yourself, but today I thought I would focus on more practical skills – things you need to be able to actually do!

Social media is full of lists – the 50 things you need to do to be successful, the 10 things you must avoid when interviewing for a job, the 5 things that make you a good husband and so on. This is my list of things I hope my own children will be able to do when they leave home and I hope you can tick these off as I go through them.

  1. You must be able to cook and by that I don’t mean warm up 2 minute noodles! You must be able to make a meal, not just for yourself but for guests as well. The meal must be balanced and nourishing, must include vegetables or a salad and must be tasty and nutritious. Enjoy making the meal and clean up afterwards – no matter how late the evening is. Waking up to dirty dishes is simply not on!
  2. You must be able to manage your finances. Do you spend money as you get it so that monthly allowances are finished before half the month has elapsed of do you plan for upcoming events? Do you keep some money aside – just in case? And do you have a savings plan? Those of you that know the advantages of compound interest will know that compound interest is your friend – provided you save for long enough. The richest people I know, those who retired early and comfortably, started saving early, so put money away when you can and force yourself to do it. Invest wisely if you can and if you cannot – seek advice from a trustworthy source or join the Business Club and make friends with those boys who are winning the JSE competition. Any way you can – put money away for the future and do so early.
  3. For the older boys – drive well and drive safely. Assume that everyone else on the road is a moron that is going to do unpredictable things. Anticipate early and watch for things before they happen. Take pride in your driving and be known by your friends as being a good driver. Learn how to overtake properly, use your indicators and maintain a good following distance. Be able to change a tyre – this sounds simple but it is a critical and valuable skill all of us will need at least once in our lives. And fill up your car’s tank before it gets to empty!
  4. Know how to clean a house – how to use a vacuum cleaner properly, how to mop and how to scrub and clean a toilet. You may feel these skills are beneath you but no-one likes a dirty house, certainly not your visitors!
  5. Know how to wash clothes, iron a shirt and sew on a button or sew a hem that has come out.
  6. Write properly – in full sentences and on paper. Say thank-you a lot and mean it but write that note if someone is celebrating a special day, or if someone has lost a loved one. Posting on Facebook or Instagram or in a chat group doesn’t count. Learn how to spell!!
  7. Look after your health – go to the dentist and the doctor if needs be and exercise as often as you can. Your body needs you to take control. Know what medical aid is and why at least a hospital plan is a good idea.
  8. Be able to talk to all people on relevant topics. Know what Brexit is, what the current exchange rates are and who the political parties are that will be contesting next week’s election. Know what the sports scores are and what issues are currently trending. Be interesting to be around and educate yourself.

As I went through those eight practical things: make a meal, manage your finances, drive a car, clean, launder, write, personal health and a wide range of knowledge, I hope you ticked off what you can already do and what you still have to learn. And I hope that you remember them!

They are not the definitive list by any means but they are a start. Finally – ask your teachers next lesson what they wish they had learned at your age and ask your parents tonight what they want you to be able to do. Build up your own list – write it down and tick off as you acquire the skill and our jobs as teachers and parents will be partially done!

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” -Ann Landers