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By Cindy West

Life Skills

Finding time in your homeschool day to teach handicrafts and life skills is a pillar of the Charlotte Mason method.

Handicrafts and life skills are things every child should learn, but many children don't. They're often so busy "doing school" they don't have the opportunity to truly cultivate these valuable, applicable life skills.

Even though I'm not naturally gifted in most handicrafts, I've been very proactive about offering my children opportunities to experience as many as possible. When 4-H offers a sewing class, we take it. When a friend arranges a trip to the local florist, we go. When our co-op has a woodworking competition, I've encouraged my children to join in. These opportunities have opened my children's eyes to experiences they would not have had otherwise. Whenever my children discover a handicraft that sticks, their enthusiasm pushes them to learn more or find other classes or people to help them.

Here are some examples of handicrafts you might consider introducing.

  • Sewing
  • Ceramics
  • Photography
  • Collage
  • Flower Crafts
  • Latch-hook
  • Knitting/Crocheting
  • Jewelry Making
  • Sculpting
  • Metalworking
  • Wood Burning
  • Rubber Stamping
  • Woodworking
  • Flower Arranging
  • Decoupage
  • Pottery
  • Cross-stitch
  • Gardening
  • Cake Decorating
  • Scrapbooking
  • Mosaics
  • Drawing/Painting

Along the same vein are life skills. These are things your children really should know before leaving home, but might not be covered in academic lessons. A short list of examples includes:

  • Cooking/Baking
  • Organizing
  • Plumbing/Electricity
  • Household Decorating
  • Mechanics
  • Computer Skills
  • Canning/Freezing
  • Caring for Animals
  • Household Chores
  • Lawncare/Landscaping
  • Building Projects

If you're like me, and you don't feel like a natural crafter, you might be eager for resources to help introduce handicrafts and life skills. Available resources may vary depending on where you life, but here are some of my family's favorites:

4-H
In my county, 4-H offers many wonderful classes like: sewing, cooking, basket making, art, crafts, horticulture, beginning electricity, service projects, livestock care, gun safety, and more!

County Extension Offices
We have taken advantage of several adult education programs, including: Landscaping 101, Garden Q&A's, and we're interested in the Jr. Master Gardener course. There are knitting, quilting and canning classes available, too.

Field Trips
Get together with a few friends and take turns scheduling informative field trips in your area. Plan a visit to a nearby florist, bakery, art studio, scrapbooking shop, veterinarian's office, farm, contractor's jobsite, an interior decorator's shop, or any business that handmakes products—from candles to soap to clothing.

Pay for classes
Whatever your child is interested in, there's a class or teacher somewhere!

Find family members or neighbors who love to teach a skill
My daughter learned to knit and crochet from her grandmothers and a sweet 90-year-old neighbor. Not only was the neighbor's knowledge a huge asset to us, but my daughter's visits brightened her day once a week, as well.

Get Dad involved
Dads generally have knowledge about various skills that are unique and priceless. Encourage Dad to invite the kids along as he goes about his "manly" business.

As for life skills, my children have worked alongside me at the house (and my husband on the farm) from the time they could walk. Household chores, gardening, canning, working cattle, fixing broken things, etc. are just normal and won't surprise my children when they start their own homes.

There's no way to provide a completely comprehensive list of resources for handicrafts and life skills since it depends on the interests of your children. However, the ones above have become treasured, well-worn helps in our family. Handicrafts and life skills are a beautiful way to enhance your homeschool opportunities and create unity as a family!

Cindy West is an eclectically Charlotte Mason mom of three who loves learning alongside her children. You can find her blogging at Our Journey Westward and find her nature study curriculum at Shining Dawn Books.

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