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Monday, February 27, 2023

Teaching Soft Skills to Homeschoolers

Teaching Soft Skills to Homeschoolers

Homeschooling is a challenge as we balance to teaching hard and soft skills. Hard skills are specific abilities, or capabilities, that an individual can possess and demonstrate in a measured way.

Soft skills are non-technical skills that are how you work and interact with others. Unlike hard skills, they are not necessarily something you'll learn in a course, like literary analysis or coding. Instead, they reflect your communication style, work ethic, and work style.

My 15-year-old son loves Tinker CAD, which is the younger version of CAD (Computer Aided Design). He wants to go into a job that includes this type of design. He is learning the hard skills of CAD that will most likely be useless in his future employment.  I value this learning time highly, and yet he is grounded from it for two weeks. Let me explain:

He turned in an English paper that was almost unreadable, I would even call it lazy writing. Before you say lazy is an objective word, remember that I know what he is capable of in regard to writing. He has had three weeks to complete the paper or ask questions about anything confused him. I have years of evidence what his writing work looks like when he makes it priority. It is the laziest writing he has ever turned in, written in an hour. This wasn't an instruction problem; it was a problem work ethic and work style.  

After initial frustrations, I wasn't sure how to give him a consequence other than just a bad grade.  Upon further investigation I discovered he was rushing through writing to get to Tinker CAD. 

I know my son will most likely use the hard skills he learns in CAD is his future career more than hard skills of writing research papers, BUT time management is a skill he will need in his future. The soft skills of work ethic will keep in in good graces of his future employer. Learning to communicate that you might need extra support when an assignment is confusing and putting his best effort even into something he doesn't value are skills we must all learn to be successful in life.

Soft skills are just as important, sometimes more important, than the hard skills we are teaching through homeschool assignments. We have done a disservice to our children when we only focus on hard skills they enjoy at the expense of the soft skills of work ethic, communication, and problem-solving.

Homeschool teachers, don't get so focused on teaching hard skills that we forget the soft skills our kids are learning, or not learning.

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