Since many schools have closed for a couple weeks and kids are at home, I know there are parents who are looking for activities to keep those kids occupied.

And in the last couple days many companies and offices are also asking their employees to stay at home so it’s the perfect time to interact with your children and teach them some important things.

I’ve come up with a few things parents might take the time to make sure their kids learn about — if age appropriate.

We can’t expect our teachers to impart every single bit of information our kids need to know. So here are just a few things we should be teaching our kids ...

1. Manners — “Yes ma’am” and “yes sir” are almost lost today. They’re relics of the past. I know it may seem old fashioned to do so, but train your children to be polite and mannerly and above all else, to have respect for YOU and for other adults. Even if you have to spank some manners into ‘em. It will serve them well the rest of their lives.

2. Our national parks — Sadly, most of our kids will never get to experience the beauty and wonder of places such as Yellowstone, The Everglades or even The Great Smoky Mountains. Instead, we’ve gotten them too used to believing that Disney or Panama City Beach are the only places worth of a family vacation. But it would be wonderful if, in addition to those destinations, our children grew up looking forward to the great natural places we still have left. There are 62 national parks across the country. And they are filled with some of the most breathtaking scenery and wildlife in the world. Teach your children to love the natural world and to appreciate our national parks.

3. World geography — It always amazes me how people of all ages seem to be completely oblivious that there is a world outside our country. The people and cultures of different countries can be fascinating and we can learn so much from them. Plus, things that happen thousands of miles away affect us on a daily basis. It’s good to know the difference between Brazil and Bolivia or that not every person of Asian descent is Chinese. Appreciate other cultures and other customs. Many of our kids will never travel to distant lands, but we have the resources to teach them about even the most remote parts of our world.

4. The importance of turn signals.

5. Good music — Whatever you deem to be good music, share that with your children. Music today is so much different than when we were growing up. Some of it is great, but some of it is trash. Share good songwriting with your kids. Share great melodies and great harmonies and good story songs with them. Help them appreciate a time when music wasn’t made on a laptop. Teach them about the pioneers, the trailblazers in various genres of music.

6. The proper age to ride in a buggy at the grocery store — there’s a cut-off age. Middle-schoolers don’t need to be pushed around in a shopping cart even if they pitch a fit.

7. History — Whether it’s local history, American history or world history, talk to your kids about some of the people and events that have shaped the world. I have a friend (who shall remain nameless) who works for the Floyd County Schools system and who thought Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was named for country star Alan Jackson; yes the same Alan Jackson who went way down yonder on the Chattahoochee. And a neighbor of mine had no idea who John Wilkes Booth was.

8. What a turn lane is for and how to use it.

9. To be kind to animals — Show your kids, through example, what it is to be kind of animals. If they learn to be gentle and kind to even the smallest of God’s creatures, they may grow up to extend that kindness to all others.

10. How to unplug — Technology is a marvelous thing. But it can overwhelm us. Teach your children that they can’t spend their entire day staring at a glowing rectangle. There’s a time to play on their mobile devices and a time to watch television. But there’s also a time to do chores and to play outside and to interact with friends and family without using their phones. We live in a world where it seems impossible to escape technology. But we can take little breaks from it.

11. How to change a flat tire.

12. Credit card companies, phone companies and cable companies are the devil.

13. Basic food preparation — I am incapable of cooking anything and it’s pathetic. I realize that. Teach your kids how to prepare basic meals and to know their way around a kitchen.

14. How to catch a fish.

15. The joy of reading a great book.

16. Building something with their own two hands — Whether it’s a small art or craft project or something much bigger that you can work on together, show your kids how cool it is to create or build something.

17. The best place in your town to get a biscuit — Never underestimate the ability of a good biscuit to start the day off right.

18. How to pack a cooler — I don’t care who you are. Packing a cooler is an art and kids need to learn from an early age the proper cooler packing techniques. When you’re trying to fit food, drinks, snacks, ice and other items in the same container, it takes a pro to make sure things are where they should be. One of the best cooler packers I’ve ever known is my friend Barry Owen from Rockmart. Years of packing coolers for family outings and sporting events have made him a master. A perfectly packed cooler is a beautiful thing to behold.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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