Monday, April 27, 2009

Mommy Can I Help You Balance Your Checkbook? The School of Life


I remember being in college when I took my first marriage and family class. I loved learning the tips and about the psychology, but why did it take it so long for our educational system to offer me these classes? If we are trying to teach our children to grow up to be productive members of society, then why wait to teach them life skills in their early twenties? Are we scared to teach classes on running a household, how to manage our checkbooks or how to have a successful relationship? Or do we not have enough time to teach it all.

I started off in college with an undeclared major. I knew at the age of eighteen, I needed to take some classes before I decided what career I was going to have for the rest of my life. I cannot tell you the looks that I got from the school guidance counselor and adults, when I told them my decision to still think about my major.

Two years into school, I declared my major as psychology and then specialized a year later with a Child and Family Studies degree. After taking psychology classes and participating in an internship I just ‘knew’ that I wanted to specialize in working with children and families.

At a holiday party, adults asked me what my major was and I was able to say, “Ah yes, I am now a child and family studies major.” “Oh you’re going to have a wonderful marriage then!” was the usual reply.

That wasn’t why I was taking those classes, but just like I needed science, math, art and a language to be taught a well-rounded education, I felt that psychology classes should be mandatory to me as well.

If I had been taught at an early age in school the necessary life skills like raising children, paying bills, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, stocks, marriage and accepting people with different backgrounds then maybe I could have decided my major much earlier on.

Do we assume that children are being taught these life skills at home? And what if this doesn't happen? What if the parent’s assume their children are being taught these skills at school? Trust me, I have met some of those adults. These adults almost broke down when they realized that they would have to pay their own bills, run their own home and somehow keep their marriage afloat.

Now imagine two sixth graders discussing their upcoming quiz on paying bills after taking the bills class in school.

Susie “OK I have $100 in my bank account, but I have two bills coming. One for PG&E for $40 and the other for my health insurance for $30, how much money will I have left over?”

Katie “Don’t forget to leave some money aside for the groceries. Maybe we should set aside $130 for the month for bills.”

Wouldn’t it also benefit everyone and our society if we taught our children, say in the fifth grade about accepting others who are different to us? These classes could be about learning that there is a lot to learn from someone that is different. Different cultures, religion and sexual orientation makes each person unique and special. To me this is class in school that I would have loved to take.

So the next time you are about to do the chore that you most hate, balancing your checkbook, try to think of it as a learning exercise for your child. My suggestion is that you call little ‘Johnny or Susie’ over, give them a fake checkbook to follow along in crayon and teach them this life skill. Plus if you make it fun maybe they won’t hate balancing the checkbook they way that I do ☺

I will announce the two winners of the Happy Birthday to Me Guest Blogger Giveaway on Wednesday April 29th so you still have time to enter. Good luck! Please comment on this post and tell me another skill you would like to taught in school or advice you may have.

17 comments:

Sotorrific Twins said...

The checkbook thing is a big one. I worked with high school special needs students this past summer and it was really eye opening. Many of these stduents are not college bound and the ironic thing is, they have far less "life-skills" than those kids going to college. They will have to get jobs and start paying bills well before those college kids who get an extra +4 years of being "kids" We had to teach them things like, how to fill out a check, how to fill out an application for a job, how to estimate your monthly bills and monthly income, etc.

pj said...

Money mgmt is of the utmost importance for kids. I know that robert kobyisai (sp) of rich dad poor dad fame has a great game that actually gets in debth about managing money for kids and adults.

Laura said...

Sotorrific Twins: What an amazing experience and thank you for sharing. I also worked with a girl who was 18 but mentally about 14 and realized that our time together would be about life skills. How to make change, keep a job, ride a bus etc. Having these skills taught in school would have really helped her.

Laura said...

pj: Hiya. I will check this book out. I know that we should never assume that children already know everything and continue to teach them like the blank slates that they are. Thanx pj for your comment as well.

Char said...

the checkbook one is major... I wish that school would instill more common sense things. I know many smart people without a bit of common sense.

Jules said...

Personal finance, personal finance, personal finance.....

Laura said...

Char: true true. Book smart and common sense are two totally different things. Thans Char.

Jules: I hear you!!

Donna Maria said...

I was all set to comment on your post Laura, when I read Sotorrific Twins.... How do I start? I don't know if you know but our eldest son BJ is autistic . He is able to do many things but speech and appropriate behaviour are just two things that we are still working on. BJ will never drive a car, get married or have children. He will never have a "real" job and I suspect that he will always live with me and Andy.... One of the most important things to Andy and myself and to many special needs parents is that they are taught "Life Skills". Crossing the street safely, shopping at a supermarket, banking, and just generally coping in society and hoping that people treat him with the respect that they deserve. We have never put to high of an expectaion on BJ, I think that is a way for us not to be too disappointed if things don't go exactly to plan. His education is very important to us but his suvival in this world is more....We are very proud of our son. Even the joy of seeing him brush his teeth by himself for the first time left me on a high for the rest of the day. So I would like to think moving 300kms from a much loved town where ALL our family live and leaving close friends and familar places for both our boys then placing him a school where he will get all these things and more was one of the best choices we have ever made...
So I would like to think that I am installing in both my boys the importance of "Life Skills"...even if one has special needs. Xx

K @ Blog Goggles said...

That's so interesting. I guess I don't really remember ever learning much about money (at least, not in school). You make some great points.

Laura said...

Donna Maria: Thank you for being so open and sharing with us your life and some of your heartache. How wonderful is your family and no I didn't know about your son. Hoping for the best for your child and keeping in mind the appropriate boundaries is a wonderful skill to have. You are very special and you have touched me today. Thank you!

BlondieLox said...

i tagged you on my blog. :)

Fashion Moment said...

Thank you for your comment. Fantastic blog!

FM~FP

Carte Blanche said...

Hey I think you are dead on. I don't remember having any classes discussing any kind of relationships, money management, or even home economics. I wish I had been taught to sew and be more creative at a younger age. Thanks for commenting on my blog. Love yours.

Carte Blanche
www.lecarteblanche.blogspot.com

samiam4eva06 said...

Hey there! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm so excited to continue reading yours!! Hopefully we'll get to know each other pretty well!

Laura said...

Blondie-lox: Thank you so much for the tag and I tag you for the guest blogger giveaway post :)

Fashion Moment: Right back at ya! Stop by anytime.

Carte Blanche: I know right although I do remember taking sewing in 8th grade but trying to make a pillow and hemming pants are two totally different things.

Desert Rat said...

I LOVE IT...Exactly teach them in grade school both finance and appreciating cultures and embracing differences. We are teaching my son at home all about finace...he is 12 and works for his dad at home by choice and he does chores which he is responsible for and gets paid for both and has a bank account. culture we teach him because we have too many cultures around him but I wish they taught him both in school as well.

Laura said...

Desert Rat: I love that your son is working with your husband. Which reminds me of how my little brother use to tell my father to put his office shoes on. Thanx for your comment.