Archery, swimming lessons and knot-tying may not be happening this summer, but how about egg-boiling, thank-you note-writing and screwdrivers 101? Common sense camp is now in session!
Oona Hanson, an educator and parent coach, thought her own kids could use a little more on the life skills front. With their usual summer camps on hold, she and her husband decided to use June Newman’s guide “How to Be a Person” as inspiration for teaching their kids the basics they might not be learning in other parts of their lives.
As she documented in a blog post, Hanson wanted her kids, ages 12 and 17, to enter the adult world comfortable in the knowledge that they knew how to survive, so she and her husband designed an eight-week course, covering one topic each week: Kitchen Confidence, Do It Yourself, House Cleaning and Laundry, Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Personal Finance, City Savvy, Social Skills and Anti-Racism.
Schools can only do so much, especially under the current circumstances. With common core standards to thoroughly cover each year, home economics and shop class are usually pushed aside. Kitchen skills, operating an ATM and the right way to use a hammer are not the focus. With lives much busier, parents might not remember to take a moment to teach a lesson on how to start a load of laundry. Now that we’ve got time, though, we as parents can use this opportunity to catch up on basics.
Hanson’s plan was to use Newman’s book as a jumping-off point, and then supplement with other sources, including books, movies and websites. For knife skills in the Kitchen Confidence week, her kids had hands-on time in the kitchen and then watched the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” to study knife skills. Cooking dinner for four was that week’s exam.
It won’t be all work. Hanson made up official shirts and promises s’mores and tie-dying and even lanyard-making crafts, plus time for rest, creativity, screen time and, equally important, boredom. Hanson states that her “overall goal is to help our kids develop conscientiousness, confidence and empathy.”
I, too, have bought Newman’s book and hope to follow along with her camp plan. Maybe I might even learn from the curriculum, too (I really don’t feel confident in my button-sewing abilities, TBH). I hope that my kids will be excited and receptive to learning these secrets of the adult world and not think of them as a chore (because, really, some of them are literal chores). If we don’t get through all eight weeks of learning, that is fine, because learning is a lifetime process. But, hopefully, they’ll know enough to feel confident as they inch closer to being grown-ups.