I am not familiar with the current curriculum at our middle and high schools, but I believe there needs to be a course in daily fundamental life skills.
I work for a property management company that recently changed its payment policy; we now accept payment only in the form of a check or money order. It is a fiasco for us now that we no longer accept cash in our office. The majority of young adults we deal with do not know how to address an envelope properly, how to write checks or how to fill out a money order. Some do not even know how much their own rent is.
Since our new company policy took effect, much of what we see in the office and receive through the mail is comical. With all of the advances in technology and social media, we have forgotten to teach our youth essential life skills. We are falling short in preparing them with the nuts and bolts of everyday life. How is it that people in their mid 20s do not know how to address an envelope?
You would not believe the number of phone calls we receive at our office from parents calling on behalf of their adult children because they are uncomfortable making phone calls with questions, complaints or maintenance requests. The notion of verbal communication is frightening to our youth. Most of their communication is through emails, texts, Twitter and Facebook. They rarely pick up the phone to have conversations with friends; face-to-face communication is nearly obsolete.
We have tenants who move into their apartments and then go weeks without lights, gas or hot water because they neglected to call a utility company for service. It is not because they couldn’t afford it, they just didn’t take the initiative to do it. Tenants will call us because their lights don’t work, but never check their light bulbs or know how to change them. We get calls because water is going down drains slowly. Clean them! I find it hard to believe that they are living on their own – it’s disturbing.
When I went to school we had home economics and we were not only taught how to cook and sew, but also what consists of a nutritious meal. We were educated in planning meals for the week, and learned consumer skills (coupon clipping, shopping for sales) and how to budget household bills. We were informed about the importance of cleanliness and proper attire. We were taught how to address people in different situations. We also had business courses where we were taught the basics in letter writing, addressing business letters and envelopes and how to write and sign checks.
We also had weekly banking. Bank employees actually came to our elementary school to set up savings accounts for us. Every week we had to manage our accounts and fill out our bank slips and envelopes. We could deposit or withdraw our money.
I acknowledge that check writing is not as customary as it used to be, with the convenience of online banking and debit cards, but to some individuals, money orders are necessities. There are many individuals who do not have bank accounts and have to solely rely on purchasing money orders for all of their financial transactions. I understand this, but then let’s teach them how to fill out the forms.
Yes, our children are geniuses with their phones and computers, but let’s prepare them with the basics first, so that when we do send them off to college or out on their own, they can carry out everyday responsibilities for themselves.
Carrie Carney, a mother of three, lives in Buffalo.