I’m a middle school counselor, educator, and parent of teens. Both at home and at school I observe essential skills kids lack in the age of technology . Here are five essential skills kids still need to know that schools and cultures aren’t teaching anymore.
- Knowing their street address and a parent’s phone number. Each year, sixth graders I teach have to fill out a form with their address and parent’s phone number. Over half of the students don’t know their mailing or street address. Kids need to be able to tell someone where they live and know how to get in touch with a parent in case of an emergency apart from speed dial on their cell phone.
- Knowing how to sign their name and write in cursive. Most schools are omitting cursive writing from their curriculums because keyboards are “all that’s needed.” However, kids don’t know how to sign their names! Even if fingerprint images will be their signature in the future, a personalized signature is a safety and identity issue. On the sentimental side, I wonder if my kids and grandkids will be able to read letters and cards I’ll send to them in future years. Will they be able to read other important papers written in traditional cursive writing? Generations of kids who don’t know how to read or write in cursive are becoming more ignorant rather than tech savvy.
- Knowing how to read a map or follow driving directions without GPS. Have you had a Google map mis-hap? I have. Kids need to know how to get places if they don’t have GPS technology. They need to be safe and survival-worthy if they have nothing telling them which way to turn. I want my kids and adults in future generations know where they are!
- Knowing how to count back change. Have you ever been at a cashier counter waiting for a manager to explain to the cashier how much money should be given back because the computer has malfunctioned? This should be a non-negotiable skill for teens to learn.
- Having common sense when driving a car. The newest cars are equipped with video and audio technology letting a driver see behind them. It notifies them if they’re about to hit something. While it’s a great feature, these tools deprive a driver of learning common-sense skills like using peripheral vision and side mirrors.
- Knowing how to tell time on a traditional wall clock. I spent a lot of time helping a sixth grader tell time because he didn’t know how to – he’s faked it all these years, embarrassed because he didn’t know how to read time on a traditional clock. He’s not the only one.
We need to make sure essential skills are not extinct for future generations. These are just a few skills I think are important – what skills do you think are important? Do you think there is merit in these skills? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
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