I have been really convicted lately about teaching my children life skills not just book work. This is something I don’t see promoted a ton in our homeschool community but I almost think it’s more important than academic prowess. And not to say that no one talks about it, but I find the conversation surrounding this to be minimal at best.
Recently I read a book (that I’m thinking of reviewing at some point) that really brought home the point of reminding our kids that one of our goals, as Christians, is to exercise “dominion for God’s glory.” What does this mean? Well, in the book of Genesis, God instructed Adam to keep the garden and to dress it. God didn’t tell him to learn how to read, or to study one career path and then only focus on that niche. He valued a good work ethic and stewardship (my pastor has been preaching on this topic and I think this blog post ties in).
Years ago, I remember hearing the phrase “Jack of All Trades” regarding men in our circles. Just meaning that they had enough knowledge to fix smaller issues, either around the house or with the car, etc. My dad is one of the best examples of this. I remember him getting a book on fixing toilets from the library. We rarely called a repairman for small fixes. He didn’t work on cars so much but anything around the house that needed work he figured out how to fix, or asked someone to show him how to fix it.
My mom also had her own set of skills. She baked, cooked, even sewed clothes (she made bridesmaid dresses for my cousin) and she even held an outside job doing typing work. To me, this embodied what Solomon’s mother was writing in Proverbs 31.
I’m not saying that academics are bad. What I’m saying, is that, in our culture, I think we’ve placed more emphasis on book work than on practical living. What is our purpose for homeschooling? Many are just “schooling at home”: following the public school’s idea of what school should look like. I have heard of far too many young women getting married who don’t know how to cook a meal, or clean a house.
People often laugh at me when they hear that I sew, make my own soap, taught myself to wood burn, made jewelry for a time, etc. I like learning. I’m a teacher at heart and teachers are only teachers when they continue to learn new things themselves. I realize not everyone is going to be on that wavelength, and that’s okay too. I just want to make it clear that I’m not calling out anyone’s spirituality based on how many crafts they can do! We each have our own unique skills that God has given us. But I think we’ve lost a lot of skills that our grandmothers and great grandmothers had just because we’ve decided they aren’t for us.
I think there is a point where we need to make sure that we’re imparting life skills to our kids. Whether we’re teaching them how to do laundry properly, how to cook (even if it’s just simple everyday meals), or how to take care of clothes to make them last.
If we truly believe that everything we own is the Lord’s (which we should if we’re Christians), then that translates over into taking care of the things we own AND not spending money needlessly. This is a tenet of financial freedom. Instead of throwing out pants that have a hole in the knee and buying new ones, cut them off and make shorts, or check out the myriad of tutorials online on how to darn or patch them. I did this with a pair of my son’s joggers this winter and he loved them more after I patched them then before. All I used was a simple piece of felt that matched the colour of his pants, a needle, and Dollar Store embroidery thread (that I keep on hand) and hand sewed it using a youtube video as my guide. Because I have scraps of felt hanging around from when I used to make quiet books, this literally cost me nothing. To buy him new pants (even second-hand) I’m looking at $10+.
Proverbs 31 talks about the virtuous woman using a spindle (inference here is making wool to sew with), making herself clothing of tapestry, silk, and purple (it’s not wrong to make yourself clothes that fit well and look nice), and also making fine linen and selling it to add to her husband’s income. She took great pride in fabrics and in how her family was dressed. Another verse says that her entire household was clothed with scarlet. It’s not wrong for women to want to look nice and I think the fact that more than one verse was dedicated to talking about her use of fabrics and clothing is an indication that a woman of strength and honour cares a lot about her appearance and how the world perceives her. Not to the point of making yourself into something you’re not, but to the point of showing people that you care about how you look. We represent the Lord every time we walk outside our front door and it’s important for us to teach our kids this fact while maintaining stewardship of our finances. In essence, this means we don’t go to the mall once a week.
Another point to ponder comes from one of my college teachers. She was often saying that you should spend money on quality pieces that can last you for years! The t-shirt at Walmart might only be $6 but if it wears out, fades, or stretches weirdly in a couple of months, you’re wasting money on something that will not last. If you spent $25 on a good-quality t-shirt, it could last you many seasons. (Ask me how I know!)
Home Ec is about more than just giving our kids a life skill. It’s about teaching them to be good stewards of the things God has given us. I’m planning to add to this little series on teaching life skills to our kids. And I hope it will be an encouragement to you as you navigate teaching your children the way the Lord instructed us to.
**To download the Scripture colouring page, right click on the picture and save to computer, then print.