Can your kids tell time without using their phone or other digital device?

Kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin Area camps learn to tell time.
Kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin Area camps learn to tell time.

I’ve written before about the fact that my kids, who are 12 and 15, do not have a signature because they never learned cursive. It’s just one of the skills that they don’t seem to have or don’t feel relevant to them.

Another big one is telling time using a clock that has the big hand and the little hand. Yes, they technically learned it in elementary school because, of course, it’s on the STAAR test. But, I have caught them starring at an analog clock and then quickly check their phone for the answer to the big question: What time is it?

Other than the watch on my wrist and their father’s wrist, our house has no analog clocks. Our cars don’t either, though if I’m feeling retro I could set my car clock to be analog. In their schools, I’ve noticed that they still have an analog clock on the wall, but many rooms also have the digital clock or the kids use their phones.

Sparked by a study that only 25 percent of local kids can tell time using an analog clock, taught about 200 kids in the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Austin Area that skill. also donated watches to the kids

This summer for my family has been all about learning life skills. We’re working on how to work the washing machine and dryer now that our children are expected to do their own laundry. We’ve also worked on the dishwasher and how to turn the oven on and off, and believe it or not, how to work a microwave (Yes, you can set the microwave to not just do 1 minute or 2 minutes!).

Some other skills I think they need before they head off to college in three to six years:

  1. How to write a check.
  2. How to use a debit card and the difference between debit and credit cards.
  3. How to have a budget and stick to it.
  4. How to cook at least five meals.
  5. How to shop for groceries and get the most for your money.
  6. How to have a signature.
  7. How to ask for directions if you’re lost.
  8. What over-the-counter medications to take if you have a headache, a fever, an upset stomach, too much snot.
  9. How to take your temperature and what is normal and what is a fever and what is just in between.
  10. When to go to the doctor versus the hospital versus take some Tylenol and get a good night’s sleep.
  11. How to drive a car.
  12. How to put gas in a car.
  13. What kind of maintenance a car needs.
  14. How to iron a shirt.
  15. How to read the label inside your clothes so you know if they needs to be dry cleaned.
  16. How to shave without cutting yourself.
  17. How to introduce yourself to a total stranger.
  18. How to protect yourself if you’re being followed.
  19. How to file taxes.
  20. How to talk to customer service representatives to get what you need.

What else do you think kids need to know before they head to college?

And if you’ve got a kid going to college in fall, I’ve got some great resources for you:

Make move from high school to college less stressful for parent, child

Have a kid heading off to college this fall? Read “Letting Go” and “Do Your Laundry”

And if you have one getting ready to go in the next four years, read this:

Start earlier than you think with college applications

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