Enhanced – read by the author
The Family Man title
with Todd Wilson
Life Skills are REAL SCHOOL
A father teaches his son how to change a flat tire as they both smile at each other
I don’t know who it was that dissected learning, but they really made a mess of things. Back in the old days, learning was learning. It didn’t matter if it was learning to bake bread, shoe a camel, or count by fives. Everyone called it learning.

But at some point, someone divided learning into categories: academics skills and life skills… or real school and not real school. Today, children spend most of their time learning academic skills, and then if they have a few extra minutes, life skills are squeezed in as extracurricular activities (read: NOT REAL SCHOOL).

But life skills carry just as much weight as academic skills… and maybe even more. I’d much rather break down in my car with a guy who can fix the engine than a lawyer who can only help me if I’ve been “injured in an accident.”

Give me a guy who can do plumbing or electrical over a guy who has memorized Pi to the 100th digit any day. Life skills are REAL SCHOOL and can be counted in the same way as math skills, language arts skills, and geography skills.

“Your children are watching you as you interact with them, your wife, and others. These LIFE skills are infinitely more valuable than knowing where Turkey is on a map, how to divide fractions, or how a direct object is used in a sentence.”
And here’s where you come in, Dad. You get to teach them. Now don’t get all worried and start to panic. I’m not talking about textbooks, diagrams, and pop quizzes. It’s more of a “when you rise up and when you lie down, and when you walk along the path” kind of thing.

The truth is every dad needs to teach his sons and daughters life skills, and you can count it as real school. I’m not going to write out a list of skills that your sons and daughters need to know because you already know them. They are the things you do all the time. But instead of doing them by yourself, you need to involve your children as you do them.

I know that sounds like a pain. Alone, you can get the job done five times quicker than with them tagging along. In fact, I know some pretty capable dads who have incapable kids because they never allowed their kids to work beside them. It was just easier to do it themselves.

Here’s how it looks:
You have to change the oil in your car. You either change it yourself or you take it to a place that can change it for you. Either way, involve your kids. If you take it to a place, explain why you choose that option, how often you have the oil changed, and why you picked this company to do it.

If you change it yourself, then show them how to jack up the car—everyone should know how to do that. Show them how to find the oil filter, drain the pan, install the new filter, add the new oil, and read a dipstick.

That will be way more handy in life than how to use the Pythagorean theorem. The same applies to everything you do. When you have a hole to dig, have them dig it with you. When you have something to build, have them build it with you. When you clean out the garage, have them clean it with you. When you wash the car, have them wash alongside you. When you need to buy something on Amazon, show them how to search for the best deal. You get the idea.

The best part is that you can count it as school. No kidding. It’s not just a life skill; it’s school!

But there are some other life skills that are even more important than building, changing, or fixing things. These life skills bring happiness or sorrow, joy or heartbreak, healing or death. And you teach them every day… 365 days out of the year.

Here is a sampling:
  • How to be kind to your spouse when he or she isn’t kind to you.
  • How to trust God when the world seems to be falling apart.
  • How to give to someone in need when you have needs yourself.
  • How to show unconditional love when your children say they hate you.
  • How to serve others when you’d rather serve yourself.
  • How to ask forgiveness when you’ve wronged someone.
  • How to offer forgiveness even if someone doesn’t say they’re sorry.
  • How to be gentle when you feel like roaring.
  • How to pray when you feel like freaking out.
  • How to stay married when it’s so easy to go your separate ways.
  • How to pick family by giving up your video games, golf day, or me-time.
  • How to elevate life skills to the same level as academic skills.
And you can bet your Pythagorean theorem
that you can COUNT IT. AND YOU SHOULD!
A digital signature mark of Todd Wilson
Todd Wilson headshot

odd Wilson, author of Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe and Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom, is a dad, writer, conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and gut-honest realness have made him a favorite speaker at homeschool conventions across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. Todd and his wife Debbie homeschool their eight children in northern Indiana and travel around America in the Familyman Mobile. You can visit Familyman Ministries at: www.familymanweb.com.