“Education

The Best Places for Your Kids to Learn Real-Life Skills Online

Why not use quarantine as an opportunity to have your homeschoolers master woodworking or engine repair?

Take this time to learn how to sew. (Westend61/Getty Images)
smithsonianmag.com

There’s a lot of talk about whether schools should be teaching more “real life” skills: cooking, gardening, financial literacy. Well, if your kids are growing weary of online phonics lessons and Zoom math, perhaps you could entice them with one of the following kid-friendly streaming tutorials. By the time this is all over you can have your kids cooking dinner, fly fishing and even changing your car’s oil.

Virtual Learning Schedule (all times Eastern)

Cooking

1 p.m

Tie on those tiny aprons every weekday at 1 p.m. for cooking tutorials courtesy of food website Delish. Join editorial director Joanna Saltz and her kids on Instagram Live to learn how to make quarantine-friendly snacks like edible cookie dough (the key is toasting the flour to kill any nasty germs before mixing), apple chips, grilled cheese hot dogs, skillet brownies, and taco mac n’ cheese. Videos are saved online for 24 hours.

3 p.m.

We’ve mentioned it before, but three Michelin stars means it’s worth mentioning again: Italian chef Massimo Bottura’s 3 p.m. Kitchen Quarantine cooking class, also on Instagram Live. The offerings are a bit more grown-up—ragù, gelato, orange marmalade, artichokes—but no less fun, albeit for slightly older kids. Plus, Bottura’s upbeat attitude will raise your spirits like focaccia dough.

Sewing

2 p.m. (Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday)

Nimble-fingered teens can hop on YouTube or Twitch to join Sew Sew Live’s sewing community for a live tutorial on making a bowline sweater, drafting the pattern for a jean skirt, or sewing pants with a button fly. Who misses going shopping anyway?

Fishing

3:30 p.m. (Saturday)

fly fishing.jpg
(Ugly Bug Fly Shop)

Give a kid a fish, and they’ll eat for a day. Teach a kid to fish, and they’ll be out of your hair for two hours! Casper, Wyoming’s Ugly Bug Fly Shop will teach your kid to tie a fly fishing fly via “Homeschooled Fly Tying” on Facebook Live, each Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Just check the website for the materials you’ll need. Salmon for dinner, anyone?

Knot-Tying and Other Scouting Skills

1:30 p.m. (Saturday)

Scout Saturday live.jpg
(Scout Saturday Live)

A Los Angeles chapter of Scouts BSA, the co-ed scouting organization formerly known as Boy Scouts of America, hopes to keep kids "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent" with Scout Saturday Live. The weekly livestream has all sorts of projects and activities for intrepid Scouts (and Scout wannabes), from cooking to knot-tying to music. Find a list of materials to prepare ahead of time (think egg crates, tin cans and other around-the-house flotsam) on the website or Facebook page.

Woodworking and More

Times Vary

The 21st century has seen a resurgence of traditional “folk schools”—centers dedicated to teaching regional handicrafts and skills, from candle-making to boatbuilding to herbalism. The COVID-19 pandemic has led many of these schools to put their classes online, which means you don’t need to live in Alaska to learn how to bake bread at the Folk School of Fairbanks or reside near the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota to join a sweater-mending or stool-building workshop at the North House Folk School. Offerings are often all-ages (though are generally more appropriate for older kids and teens). Classes vary in price, but are sometimes free or pay-as-you-can. Check out the Folk School Alliance’s master list of schools and search for whatever interests your child.

Driving/Auto Repair

Times vary

BigRigTravels.jpg
(BigRigTravels)

Have a transportation-obsessed kiddo? Join long-haul trucker Steve as he criss-crosses America in his big rig, on BigRigTravels. Kids learn about all aspects of trucking, from mechanics (engine repair, parts of a truck) to geography (GPS, mapping, reading road signs) to meteorology (understanding local weather patterns), many of which will be useful even if they don’t end up as professional truckers. YouTube livestreams happen while Steve is waiting in line for gas or taking a break. And though truckers aren’t famous for clean language, BigRigTravels is proudly family-friendly and is used in public school classrooms.

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