Whether our children attend a public school, private school, or a home school, their education must include more than just academics. As parents we need to teach our children “life” skills. While having book smarts is good, having humility and integrity is better. Here are ten things to teach our children that aren’t academic. To keep from being too long, this will be the first of two posts, covering 5 suggestions each.
1. Teach them how to answer the phone and take a message.
With the household phone becoming a thing of the past, this skill is becoming trickier to teach, but children still need to know how to answer a regular phone or a cell phone when needed. Teaching them simple phrases such as “Hello, this is Mommy’s phone; this is Julie speaking” enables children to practice phone courtesy and interaction with adults. I have a friend who has taught her children to answer the phone like this: “Hello, Smith residence. This is Mary speaking, how may I help you?” Now that’s how you answer a phone!
Good phone skills should also include learning how to take a message. Teach your child to write down the caller’s name, phone number and reason for the call. By doing this they will learn responsibility and gain confidence talking to someone over the phone.
2. Teach them how to call someone on the phone.
This obviously has many of the same benefits as #1: Calling other people teaches children to be more comfortable conversing with adults they have never met. It also teaches them how to speak politely and appropriately when they make a phone call. Children may be taught to say something like, “Hello Mr./Mrs. Smith. This is Bobby Jones. Is Jason available to come to the phone?” If Jason is not available then they could respond with, “Then would you please let him know I called?” And then finish with a “Thank you very much.”
Often, before making a phone call, we would sit down with our child and role-play the potential conversation. That way, when our child made the actual phone call they felt a little more comfortable with what to expect.
We occasionally asked our children to call businesses for information, such as their operating hours. Truth be told, they never really liked doing it; it definitely put them out of their comfort zone when they were young. But living out of your comfort zone for short periods of time is not a bad thing. It seemed to help our kids overcome their fears of talking to a stranger on the phone.