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It is nearing the end of summer and for most homeschooling families that means making plans to start a new school year. Just like so many of you, we are looking for curriculum, resources and tools for homeschooling middle school subjects.
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of our favorites for the traditional subjects like history, geography, science, and language arts. But we wanted to begin our series with a subject many people don’t think about including in their homeschooling middle school plans — Life Skills!
We have been very intentional about teaching life skills to our children. We believe life skills includes the knowledge and skills they will need as they become more independent BEYOND just the academics — things like learning & thinking skills, etiquette, money management, cooking, etc. Below are a few of our favorite tools including curriculum, books and online resources.
We hope this might give you some fun and easy ideas for incorporating life skills lessons into your homeschool too!
Etiquette Intermediate by The Etiquette Factory – Did you know kids don’t automatically know how to use good manners? They actually have to be taught these skills! I can joke about this because I am the mom of two boys and I spend EVERY day reminding and guiding my guys to use their manners.
I found the Etiquette Intermediate program several years ago at our local homeschool convention and I couldn’t wait to use it with my boys. When I told my friends about the program they wanted in on the action. Within a week we started a co-op so the kids could learn etiquette together. They had a BLAST! The lessons in this program are short and designed to be CHILD-LED (yes, brilliant!). The kids enjoyed learning from each other and practicing their new skills with their friends.
We are still using this program and plan to move on the Etiquette Masters: For Teens later this year. You can find my more detailed review of Etiquette Intermediate at Curriculum Choice (an awesome site with tons of homeschool curriculum reviews that Megan and I contribute to regularly).
I Own It! Building Character Through Personal Accountability by Kristen Lindeen – We have used this 10 lesson guide to help our children learn personal accountability. That may seem like a tall task for pre-teens and teens, but with this guide our kids used stories, case studies and (their favorite) “Readers Theater” role play activities to learn about making excellent choices, getting stuff done, being accountable and more.
I Own It! is based on the book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John G. Miller which parents/teachers are encouraged to read before leading the “I Own It!” program. QBQ! is a quick but powerful read and it is something we refer back to often for inspiration and encouragement.
The Art of Argument/Teacher’s Edition by Classical Academic Press – My kids were at the age where they were noticing advertisements all around them, and they were starting to believe many of them! We used this curriculum to generate discussions about “logical fallacies” and help them learn how to ask good questions and evaluate the messages they hear with clarity and reason.
20 types of fallacies are introduced in this guide (I had NO idea there were so many!). When I first looked over the guide I thought it might be a bit too detailed for my kids, but they LOVED it and have retained much of what we covered thanks to the creative and funny fake advertisements used as examples.
Lemonade to Leadership by Bonnie Drew – Do your kids have an idea for starting their own business? We used the Lemonade to Leadership program with our co-op over the summer and the kids LOVED it! The program not only gave kids the encouragement they needed to start their own small businesses but it also clearly explained many important business topics like writing a business plan, record keeping, marketing and more.
While we were using this program our kids started several creative businesses – pet care, all-natural doggie treats, eBay reseller, and cakes in a jar. The information in this program requires minimal prep from the parents which is always a nice thing!
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens – I added this to my son’s summer reading list. So far he has given the book two thumbs up — he really likes that is it written directly to kids his age and he says it has given him a lot to think about and work on. Some of the important topics covered include being proactive, setting goals, and working well with others.
Parenting the QBQ Way by John G. Miller – Megan has enjoyed using this book with her family. It has helped her and her husband be more intentional in their parenting by asking better questions of their children.
George Washington’s Rules to Live By: How to Sit, Stand, Smile, and Be Cool! A Good Manners Guide From the Father of Our Country – Our kids love to study history so this has been a great way to incorporate manners and lessons from the father of our country! They think this book is a hysterical twist on teaching manners. The graphics are a bit dramatic but they give us plenty to talk about so we think that is a good thing.
Sewing School 2: Lessons in Machine Sewing; 20 Projects Kids Will Love to Make – Megan’s girls enjoy sewing and this book has given them plenty of ideas for building their sewing machine skills. The 20 projects included offer child friendly directions so kids can work independently.
Three Inspiring Books to Encourage Your Athlete Our friends at Starts at Eight have found three books with inspiring messages for your teen athletes!
Hands-on Learning Activities
Bridge Builder Instant Challenge – Logic for Kids by Homeschool Creations – This is a fun hands-on activity to help kids learn to work together as a team. We are going to try this at one of our upcoming co-op meetings!
Honoring Our Flag by Eva Varga – With this post we learn how to honor our flag with hands-one activities and we also learned more about the flag of Norway. Although we haven’t had an opportunity to actually travel to Norway, we have fun exploring the Norwegian culture when we visit Epcot so this has special meaning for us!
Make a Sequence Sandwich! by Education.com – Help your children learn the important skill of sequencing by deciphering directions for sandwich making (they will also get to eat at the end of this activity which is always a plus!). We have used this with a number of activities such as making microwave popcorn, putting laundry in the washing machine, and more.
Spring Cleaning Science by Education.com – Combine a science lesson with a little house cleaning. This is a clever activity — we give our kids a chance to compare home-made cleaners to store bought products and have them identify which is more effective AND we end up with a cleaner house in the process!
From our Education Possible Archives:
- Map Reading Skills for Kids
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Flag Etiquette
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Food Shopping
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Goal Setting
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: How to Tie a Necktie
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Managing Schedules
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Money Management
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Sewing
- Teaching Kids Life Skills: Thank You Notes
- Teaching Kids to Cook ~ Epcot Food & Wine
- Teaching My Kids About Meal Planning Was “Easy as Pie”
Here are additional clever ideas for teaching life skills from our homeschool/blogging friends:
8 Basic Life Skills to Teach Teens Before They Move Out by Education.com – How to manage credit, how to get help, how to network, and more.
6 Life Skills for Teenagers by Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers – Filing out a job application, interview skills, leaving a tip, and more.
4 Ways to be a Fitter Family by Jen Dunlap – Simple tips to get your family on the path to fitness – together!
Teaching Values through Service and Leadership by Our Journey Westward – Serving others and taking on new leadership skills are very hands-on life skills perfect for middle school students.
Weekly Homeschool Planning Meeting with Multiple Ages by Hodgepodge – Building the habit of planning is a gift we can give our children. We’ve found that starting a child with his /her own planner in 5th grade and using it through middle school is a great way to promote independent learning.
Genealogy for Kids by Milk and Cookies – Genealogy can benefit children by connecting them to their roots, teaching valuable real life skills, bringing history alive and more!
The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Sewing in Your Homeschool by BlogSheWrote – This homeschool mom shares her tips and resources for teaching kids about sewing.
Plan a Family Vacation by Fortuigence – Encourage children to fine-tune their persuasive writing and organizational skills as they plan the next family vacation!
From our Education Possible Archives:
- 5 Ways Kids Can Preserve Travel Memories
- Brainstorming Tips and Tools for Middle School Students
- Building Life Skills with FIRST LEGO League (FLL)
- Fun With Writing for Teens: How to Write an Online Product Review
- How to Develop Social Skills Without Socialization
- How to Help Your Kids Become a Family History Reporter
- How to Help Your Teen Study Smarter
- Practical Lessons Kids are Learning from Minecraft
- What Our Kids Can Learn From Famous Inventors – The Benefits of Making Mistakes
For even more ideas, be sure to follow our Life Skills for Kids Pinterest Board!