A Plan for Teaching Common Sense

Here’s a snapshot of my Google Gadget (if you have a google homepage), that I updated this morning.
Around 10:15am, right after hanging up from talking to my eldest, who called to check on her Daddy after surgery (yes, he’s doing pretty well – a bit loopy and goofy, but his knee is relatively ok! Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes ya’ll 🙂 )
Current Status… coffee….check!….daylight…check!….ok…I think I’m awake or about to be
Lately I’m thinking… Ragweed/goldenrod is blooming and my sinuses are VERY AWARE!
Shout out to… Carol-I would love to get together! I’m feeling unplugged and need to reconnect
This is really interesting…Actual phone conversation- Me: “So, you and 10 of your closest friends made it to Destin ok?” (*sounds of boisterous people in the background laughing and talking loudly) Eldest: “Yes, we’re on the beach and I just got out of the ocean! The weather seems in favor of us staying … uh, Mom? Can I call ya’ll back? The sheriff just pulled up….”Oy.
The Soapbox: Is there ever a time in life when you stop worrying about your children? Passing into adulthood, which I always thought would be the magical key, seems to NOT have worked!
I have asked repeatedly, as each successive child moved through the different grade levels in school, why oh WHY don’t they offer a class on Common Sense?
It could begin in Elementary school with teaching outlandish concepts and classes such as
CS 101: Things you should pay attention to“.
They could teach things like:
Rain? Take an Umbrella ….
Go,Flush, and Wash Up….
Your Shirt is NOT a Kleenex …
Eat Neat -Things NOT to do at a Meal
Personal Hygiene – Why we have to bathe & brush our hair and teeth

Then as they moved up, they could tackle such complicated subjects as:
Anti-Antiperspirant and Deodorant –
The Right to Breathe Around You
Forecasting: If its cold, take a jacket
How to Keep up with your Stuff ..
Mr.Chaos and Ms. Drama are NOT your friends 
(or how to stay grounded in reality)
and the ever popular
    Its Not All about You – Empathy 101.
Graduation and diploma would be contingent on passing all of these, plus the higher level courses like:
Do What You’ve Been Asked and IT might be given Unto you
                                                           (a short course in responsibility)
The Real World’s Waiting: Are You Ready?
(what to do about college, income, and taxes) …
How to Stay out of Trouble (Strategies like call when you get there or leave, never go somewhere alone, and coming up with a ‘Plan B’ to get you out of situations you didn’t see coming) …
Paying Attention to The World Around You ( Awareness and Perceptions 101)
I seriously have asked each guidance counselor for the past 2 decades if they could perhaps come up with a class that taught common sense. My favorite response, thus far, was in 1997 when my eldest entered Middle School and was enrolled in the “enrichment” program. I posed the question to her teacher, “Ms. S”.
With a battle-weary look and a heavy sigh, she responded that I “was not the first parent to ask” and that while it was a good idea, in her experience, “there’d be no point. They either have it or they don’t and most of her kids never got it”.
As parents, the words and wisdom gained from having ‘been there’ are rarely, if ever, listened to. Well, at least the first 104 times! Maybe, just maybe, if some of these rather obvious concepts were being taught at school at the same time Mom and Dad were ragging Junior and Juniorette about them at home, the Nagtime (note: Oooo! New word!) could be reduced greatly.
Maybe. Who knows?
It could be that having to work their way through some of these universal situations in class-time, at home, and in real time could ‘train their brains’ (Behavior Modification 101) to think through situations before becoming involved in them completely, thereby saving them grief and their parents worry.
Its a theory, but it seems viable to me. Or is it just me?
Have a Awesome Labor Day weekend (for those in the States)!

10 Responses

  1. they also should have a course in “getting a clue” 🙂
    this is great stuff!

  2. you’re an ambitious one today, aren’t you…

  3. I was surfing the web looking for some advice on how to teach kids responsibility. I have two high achieving boys in 3rd and 6th grade who can’t figure out even the basics when it comes to common sense. The older one has almost put my eye out several times with the zipper of his coat while whipping his jacket around to put it on. Get the picture? Sort of like the walking Wacky Professor?

    I believe common sense is taught but I’m blue in the face trying to ‘teach’ those moments and there is a lot of ‘Nagtime’ in our house.

    I love your post and would love to send it to some of our teachers. Dealing with this issue works so much better with humor. Maybe I could suggest an enrichment class at our school!

    Thanks for your concern and humor!

    A year after writing this, after receiving your comment, I’m still seeing a need for it outside of parental influence! My son entered 10th grade this year and we have lost jackets and gym bags, forgotten homework, lost books…etc. The youngest, now in 8th grade, is doing the same things! The oldest is getting better (or maybe I just don’t hear about it!). Considering that she’s on the brink of turning 24 and is living on her own, one can only hope! 😉

  4. Is this for real? Do people see this as the responsibility of classroom teachers? When I was learning these particular skills my teacher’s name was ‘Mom’.

    And “Dad” too! 🙂
    “Real” is debatable – mostly it was sarcasm. I don’t think I really thought classroom teachers should teach this. But as the parents, we make sure our kids do their homework to reinforce the classroom teachings…I just thought it might be nice if there were options to reinforce the common sense that kids learn at home. 🙂

  5. I enjoyed this post. I guess my kids aren’t the only ones who are lacking in the common sense department. I wish I could find some exercises to enhance or develop their common sense skills. I agree that some kids are born with more than others, but there must be ways to improve what God gave them.
    Thanks for the thoughts. I hope your eldest didn’t get into too much trouble in Destin!

    Ha! Thank you for the comment. Yes, the eldest didn’t get in too much trouble, just a “hey! You guys need to chill” from the nice sheriff.
    The common sense issues continue to plague her lil brother and sister though. So the beat goes on! 😉
    Wouldn’t trade the experiences for all the riches in the world though!

  6. Reading this was good, and the posts following. I have a 12 yr old boy and a 6 yr old boy. The 12 yr old is very smart, but his common sense and comprehension is shocking. My 12 yr old is actually my step son and I have only been living with him for 2 years. I fully believe that due to the way he was brought up is why he has no common sense. Every time he had a question, the answer was just given to him and he wasn’t expected to think for himself. An example of his lack of common sense: the other day I bought a digital timer to time “screen time” and 12yr old was looking at it and asked “what does the M and the S stand for?”. I didn’t answer, because I was thinking “are you kidding me?”, so my 6yr old said “Minutes and seconds”. When he asks me a question I don’t answer it, I make him think and work it out, and ask him questions. He also doesn’t ask the question in a way that tells me what he actually wants to know. It’s very frustrating!!! Thank God that he is a lovely sweet kind boy.

    Thanks for your comment! Each kiddo has their own challenges and good points – hang in there! It *does* get better! 😉

  7. I’m a parent to a 10 year old who was held back in the second grade because of her lack of common sense and understanding and still today My kid tends to get nagging from both home and school. I honestly think that common sense does start at home but should be reinforced at school. I remember when I was growing up, I had board games and toys that reconfigured(transformer, legos, barbie houses, litebrite, and thousands more etc.), toys that required imagination, and im sure some remember the pool table type game that used checkered shaped pieces with stoppers on the board for difficulty. Man those where the days, and after school programs had more interactive games and learning activities. My child has no clue and seems content not knowing.

    You know, I did to many of those things for my kids – Barbie houses, LiteBrites, Legos, Etch a Sketch, dress up clothes, boxes (yes, the plain cardboard kind!), Crayons, PlayDoh, etc… and I’ve always tried to encourage thinking outside of the box and coming up with creative solutions instead of stagnating in the problems. I’d like to think it helped some, but common sense is much harder to instill! Intuition is hard to teach, no?

  8. Yes, this should be taught in schools; a comment here and there like haven’t your mom ever told you… or your dad! Maybe as an extra-curricular activity that will look enticing —- take it b/c it will look good on your college application.
    Every day I just shake my head in disbelief!!

    I know, right?

  9. Common Sense… A number of years ago I worked in corrections with adult inmates and each day I was taken aback by my co-workers lack of regard for safety and lack of common sense in the workplace. During a very heated team meeting I brought up the obvious “the lack of common sense in the workplace puts all of us in danger” to which my co-worker responded “common sense is the least common of the senses.” She was a psychiatric nurse and throughout my years in corrections I learned alot about human behavior from her. Years later I researched “common sense” because my 13 year old has ZERO. He can repeat behaviors that get him grounded, literally a dozen times. He can leave without a jacket when he goes to school and call me at work because he is cold, and it was just as cold when he first stepped outside the door. My research taught me that children who do not have to think for themselves cannot develop common sense. For each choice there is a consequence, and for children who haven’t experienced hard consequences based on their choices have no need to develop common sense. Common sense is consequence based. The same applies to people who are in abusive relationships. We ask “why don’t you leave?” And the hard, ugly truth is because they do not know how to think for themselves regarding consequences. They are beaten for reasons that are not logical and therefore cannot be avoided by using common sense. Their thought patterns are distorted, they want to please the abuser so that he/she won’t act out violently instead of removing the batterer from their lives. when I first read this I was upset. I thought “I let my child think for himself” and felt almost like I was being accused of being a bad parent. But as I ingested it I realize every parent wants to shelter their children and I am no different. I grew up on the streets and do not ever want my child to experience anything like that, so I protect him. His lack of common sense is due to my lack of common sense. I shelter him at all cost so that he doesn’t experience the consequences I experienced. He doesn’t take a jacket o school because he knows that although I’ll grumble, I’ll leave work to get him a jacket. He misbehaves at home because he knows it’ll all be ok because his mother is on his side at the end of every day. Does common sense need to be taught in the classroom? I think we need to take responsibility for our actions before we blame others for lack of our actions. We are our childrens first and greatest teachers and we need to have enough faith in our teachings and in our children that we let them learn from their own consequnces, or mistakes as so many of us like to label them. Realistically, it’s only a mistake because WE would have done differently. Our children need to be free to learn on their own terms, and think for themselves, and be free of OUR mistakes.

  10. I absolutely agree and have felt this way for several years now, and for anyone who whines about this sort of program NOT being the schools/teachers responsibility-while teachers are RIDICULOUSLY underpaid-the fact the remains-they are just that-TEACHERS…on the other hand-ABSOLUTELY is this the responsibility of the parents to be teaching their kids-realistically & very unfortunately-ALOT do not know how-or are too self-consumed! So instead of raising a generation of kids who believe they are entitled, deserved, self-absorbed, live in their own bubble-they ARE the most important thing, dont care about learning because it’s too hard or takes too long (even with today’s technology), inconsiderate; I could continue-but hopefully point made…..why not come together and find a solution?! This IS our future-they are….from what i see now, i’m kinda hoping to either not be around too long to be too old-or things can be sort of reversed and kids are grateful, thankful, morals, considerate, empathetic, etc….hoping….

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