Small Legacies: 5 Lessons We Should Teach Our Children - Small Legacies

Small Legacies: 5 Lessons We Should Teach Our Children

By Kendra Johnson

I am a mom of 3 little boys and it’s a lot of pressure to know that as their parent, I am their primary teacher in life. I taught elementary and middle school and still I feel the slight panic knowing how important my job as a parent and teacher is. 

As a classroom teacher, I had a set curriculum to follow. I would help each student discover their potential academically and meet the yearly curriculum goals. But teaching academics, and teaching life lessons are totally different ball games. There’s no easy to follow outline for the life lessons I need to teach my boys. 

At Jake and Jack we’re all about teaching our littles how to be their best selves. We are working to raise our kids in a way to help them grow into independent, functioning adults one day. So for this blog, I’m putting my teacher hat on. I’m reflecting on the 5 most important lessons I want to teach my children. 


1. Kindness

Reflect on your experiences in this life. How many times have you been made to feel unworthy or sad, or like you weren’t wanted? What if every single parent taught their children the value of kindness? Kindness to friends, kindness to teachers, kindness to strangers, and most importantly, kindness to those we don’t get along with. 

Imagine how our community would flourish if every parent made it their purpose to foster kindness in their children. That’s a legacy worth leaving. 


2. The Value of Hard Work

Oh how I wish I had a winning lottery ticket or a fairy godmother to make my dreams come true. But I know that isn’t reality. One thing I’m learning is that no matter what my “work” is, it takes dedication. I need physical stamina to load groceries into people’s trunks until 10pm on weekends, I need patience to help resolve the tenth fight between Shane and Seth over the red marker, and I need focus to get my lesson plans done on time. 

Teaching the value of hard work is something that takes time. How you teach this may be through household chores, volunteer work in the community, or having your kids get a part time job when they are old enough. 

Hard work matters because it’s how we build confidence in who we are. When I work hard, I feel proud of myself and the work I’ve done.  As parents, we roll up our sleeves and get the work done. We shouldn’t just make our kids work hard around the house or get a job. We should be intentional about teaching our kids why hard work matters. 

I’d love to hear why you think hard work matters. Comment below with your thoughts! 


3. Financial Literacy

There are many different schools of thought on how to be smart with money, but at its very core, we need to teach our children how to budget—how to give, how to save, and how to spend wisely. 

With my kids, we talk about these three categories from very early on using our Jake and Jack banks that Amanda made for us. Do you have a bank for your kids? How often do you actually talk about the act of saving and WHY we do it? 

How often do you intentionally demonstrate giving? I know I need to be more intentional about this one. One habit I’m trying to get into is getting the kids more involved in gift giving on holidays and birthdays for friends and family.

If you need tips on how to talk to your kids about money, I highly recommend Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and Rachel Cruze. 


4. Caring About the Earth

You probably remember lessons in school about the importance of recycling and the harm of littering. But do you remember understanding why it was important? Being so widely relevant today, sustainability and the conservation of natural resources are essential concepts, and in order to give our children a meaningful, contextual understanding of them, we need to address them at an age-appropriate level. 

How do we do this? Start by trying to get outside as a family. So often, we spend our entire weekend indoors staring at screens. Not only does that negatively influence our children’s development, but it can lead to a disconnect in our appreciation of our environment as a whole. 

It’s so hard to find quality time together as a family. I recommend setting a goal for quality time outside together. Aim for a family walk once a week. It doesn’t have to be an all day hike for it to make an impact. Then work your way up to more outdoor adventures as you are able. Even the smallest amount of time outdoors can be greatly beneficial to your health and sense of connection. 


5. Finding Meaning in Life

Finding passion and purpose in life is one of the greatest joys we can experience as people. And if we are supported in doing so early on, we can find meaning in every day. 

We can help our children find meaning in their life by really listening to them. When they are excited about something, let them run with it. Support their hobbies, their passions, and their interests. These small encouragements from you will help them find joy and meaning in their life when things get tough. 

 Another way we can help our children find their purpose is by demonstrating our knowledge of our own purpose—not only as parents but as independent people. It's okay to be more than just mom and by letting our children see that, we grant them permission to embrace all that they are too.

What are some of the important life lessons you are teaching your children? Please share them with us! Comment below what you think is most important for us to teach our kids. 


Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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