Life 101

It’s September and by now students, teachers and even parents are absorbed in school. And most seniors are thinking about what they need to know by the time they graduate – and what will come next.

Clearly, proficiency in science, math, history, reading and writing is critical. No one should graduate from high school without basic mastery of these subjects.

But proficiency in academics isn’t enough. Young adults need to know much more when they walk out of their high school for the last time. And teaching the basics of living falls primarily on parents.

It’s a parent’s job to give their child the tools to live as successful, independent, contributing members of society. We are busy and a lot of life has become second nature. It’s easy to forget that these basics weren’t taught in Goodnight Moon. This is your reminder.

Here’s a checklist of a few (not all) things adults need to know:

  • Finances—how to write a check, make a budget, save money, and make a bank deposit and withdrawal
  • What credit and debit cards are and how they should be used. Plus how interest and interest rates work, and how to pay bills.
  • Taxes and insurance—at least the basics on what, why, and when.
  • Cooking—how to follow a recipe, how to boil, broil, bake, roast, fry, and sauté, as well as the effect of each on health.
  • Basic nutrition—foods that often contain fat, carbohydrates, protein and fiber and why we should care about them.
  • Illness—the importance of preventative care. What is considered a fever, how to treat one and when to seek medical attention. Symptoms that should never be ignored and those that require a doctor or ER visit, or even a 911 call. How to care for colds, cramps, stomach pain, vomiting, body aches, burns, and cuts.
  • Medicine—Which medicines are for pain, colds, allergies, and stomach illnesses. Generic and brand names of basic medicines. What medicines to avoid, and how to take any medicines with care.
  • Safety—in public, at night, at events at home, in cars, while texting and otherwise using mobile devices.
  • Cleaning— Bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. Products to use, vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, making beds.
  • Laundry—how to do it, what not to do, how often to wash sheets, towels, jeans. How to fold and iron.
  • Automobile care— changing oil and other preventative tasks, getting gas, changing a tire, following driving rules.
  • Basic etiquette—table setting and silverware use, napkin use, dinner conversation, passing food, shaking hands, making eye contact, saying prayers before meals (including meals shared by people of different religious beliefs).
  • Religion—basic beliefs and differences in major religions, etiquette at religious services of different denominations.
  • Memorize your social security number.
  • Memorize at least one phone number (family, neighbor, friend) besides your own in case of a “no phone” emergency.

If you (or your almost-adult) goes into the world knowing these basics of life then you have successfully taught the often-overlooked course called “life lessons.”