“Mom!” my son called to me from the living room. “Does the stamp go on the left or the right?” That might’ve been cute if my son were six—but he’s a teenager! Why didn’t he learn (or why didn’t I teach him) how to address an envelope? But that’s not the only thing.
Here are 10 old-school things the kids today don’t know how to use or do that could help them as learners and lifers. Depending on how old you are, you might not even know how to do some of them! A few have obvious benefits, like being able to mail a letter, but others have hidden perks. Which one do you want your kids to learn first?
There are teenagers who can’t read or write in cursive. Writing in cursive improves fine motor skills, teaches patience, and lets artistic kids express themselves easily.
2. Lite Brite
Here’s another one for fine motor skills and creativity. (The pieces are small, so it’s not for little, little kids.)
As much as our kids want to use an app to study, flashcards work. The beauty is their ease and their independence value. And if you opt for homemade cards, they also require actual writing, which research says increases brainpower.
4. Telling Time
Some kids can’t tell time on a “real” analog clock. Reading a clock with hands sharpens a child’s math skills and musical rhythm. But heads-up! If you want to convince your kids of the importance of learning how to read a clock, you should avoid any lame TikTok jokes. They’ll fall flat—trust me.
5. Folded Maps
One of the things the kids today don’t know how to use that is probably the most fun is a paper map. Let them trace roads, rivers, and routes, or buy a map for your next road trip and let them navigate while you drive. Maps develop spatial reasoning without the distraction of online navigating.
6. Mailing a Letter
This is a basic skill every child should know—mine included because while it’s OK to ask your mom where the stamp goes, it’s not a good look when you ask a teacher or employer.
7. Pick-Up Sticks
They teach dexterity, determination, and how to deal with disappointment. And any time we can show our kids they can have fun with a pile of sticks is a parenting win.
8. Audio Stories
Most kids have heard of podcasts. Go old school with old-time radio shows. You might think kids will be turned off by low-tech, but listening to dramatizations fuels a kid’s imagination.
9. Ask a Human
Challenge your kids to come to you with questions, instead of using technology (Of course, you might have to check online for the answer!). Or take the extra step and visit an expert to ask him or her in person. As convenient as it is for our kids to be able to use Google or Alexa to get an answer, human-to-human interactions build a child’s empathy skills.
As convenient as it is for our kids to be able to use Google or Alexa to get an answer, human-to-human interactions build a child’s empathy skills.
10. Using a Dictionary
Go old school once in a while when your kids need to look up a word. A dictionary is great for alphabetical order practice and stumbling upon strange but real words.
How do you go old-school at your house?