Education for Happy Kids – a list of stuff they should learn, do and develop

Main Philosophy for Education

Results Oriented

Look at the desired results you hope for each of your children and then-work backwards, figuring out how to get those desired results- how to help your child accomplish their goals. How they get the results is less important than that they get the results.

Do what works

Don’t get stuck in a certain mindset or program. The programs and curriculum out there are meant to help your child, not you to help the program. If your school is not working, try something else. If homeschool isn’t working, try something else. In this day and age, you’ve got a lot of options. Do some research, make some decisions and adjust as necessary, but focus on your end goal.

For Example – Every kid is different.  Every person has their strengths and weaknesses.  It is important to help your child develop their strengths and shore up their weaknesses, while also realizing that some of your goals may not be realistic or helpful for every child.  My oldest child is an amazing artist.  She has composed music and has an album out, but math was really hard.  I spent a lot of time with her on math so that she would be able to reach a good level, but she is a music major and will never take calculus and I had to accept that.  It doesn’t make her lesser, she is doing things I couldn’t have done, even though I loved calculus.  She is a great person and she is developing her strength and skill in art and music as an adult.  Goal accomplished!

Some years my kids have gone to public school full time or part time. Some years they have homeschooled completely. Some years they have used online classes with a teacher to keep them accountable. Some years they worked completely independently. Some years, I had to do a lot more with them. Every year is different, as well as every kid. One size fits all approaches just aren’t going to work as well as determining what will work best for you.

Keep your eye on the goal- these are the goals we have developed for our children:

Goals for Each Child:

  • Good people who know and love God
  • Good self identity, Confident
  • Kind and willing to help others
  • Have a good academic foundation 
  • Ability to learn and accomplish their goals
  • Resilient, Strong people

Character Development

Much of this work happens and definitely begins when the children are very young- learning to be patient, to wait their turn, to do their work, to keep at it.

It takes extra work and patience to follow through on consequences and to teach and guide the children in the way they should act and the things they should do when they are young.  But that time spent while they are young will pay off in huge dividends when they are older.  It is so much easier to learn the right way to be from the beginning rather than developing bad habits which must be unlearned when one is older.

Another aspect of character development that should not be overlooked is how important challenges and obstacles in life are. Don’t be afraid to give your kids real challenges, to encourage them to get out of their comfort zone, to do things that are hard. We all have challenges and part of having a good character is to be able to meet those challenges with integrity and the willingness to meet them by assessing the situation honestly and finding ways to change ourselves and/or the situation in order for it to turn out well. It is important to build resilience, to gain confidence and experience. Keep pride in check and truly understand the amount of effort and work to accomplish worthy undertakings.

Character development also happens as they are learning other skills and developing other aspects of their life.  It happens as they interact with others, and as they are challenged and overcome their challenges.  Also, they need to develop empathy and love for others.  This is accomplished very well in a family.

Character Traits Worth Developing

  • Resiliency
  • All the scout motto traits – Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.
  • Perserverance
  • Humility
  • Courageous
  • Happy

Some Activities which Help Character Development 

  • Service
  • Nature
  • Good Literature
  • Life Challenges, overcoming weaknesses
  • Activities- sports, music, scouts
  • Challenges, hardships in general
  • Chores, Work


Religion teaches us about God and morality. Learning about such things gives us purpose and helps us live better lives and be better people. Religion can give us perspective and help us look at our lives with a long term perspective. Being part of a church also gives us more opportunities to interact with others and to serve and be served. Having a good religious community is very important, as is learning and doing the personal religious observances which help us draw nearer to God.

  • Pray
  • Love
  • Learn their religion
  • Go to church
  • Read and memorize scriptures
  • Sing hymns 


Foundational Skills

  • Reading— know how to read well- the world is at their feet when they can read
  • Writing —-Handwriting, Spelling
  • Arithmetic— Numbers, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division,  Fractions, Shapes, Percentages, Ratios, Story Problems, Measurement

College Ready/ Well Educated

  • Math — Get all the way through Calculus or Algebra 2 for the ACT/ SAT
  • English –  Read, Learn grammar, punctuation and spelling, Be able to write well
  • Literature – Read a variety of good books, classics
  • History Ancient History – Egypt, Rome, Greece, Israel, India, China, Africa, Americas, Modern History, US History,  European History, China and Russia History, Middle East, World War 1 and 2, Native American, Aztec, Maya, Inca History, African History 
  • Science– Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Earth Science
  • Foreign Language Greek, Latin, modern language- Spanish and/ or French

Music, Art, Travel


  • Play a musical instrument
  • Learn to read music
  • Appreciate all kinds of music
  • Attend performances


  • Art History
  • Appreciate and enjoy different forms of art
  • Learn to draw
  • Explore different art mediums
  • Develop creativity
  • Go to museums


  • Field trips nearby
  • Longer Trips farther away
  • Learn about cultures, food, histories

Skills and Knowledge for the Modern World


  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Accounting
  • Real Estate
  • Investing


  • Computers
  • Programming
  • Social Media
  • Apps


  • Government
  • Economic Systems
  • Politics
  • Money

Self Development

  • Personality Types
  • Self Development
  • Social Skills
  • Goal Setting
  • Planning/ Organizing
  • Basic Psychology
  • Time Management

Life Skills

  • Cooking
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Grooming
  • Cleaning
  • Gardening
  • Husbandry
  • First Aid
  • Outdoor Skills
  • Sewing
  • Money Management

Have fun

Enjoy your kids- don’t lose sight of what it means to be alive to experience the world to live and to grow. Life is meant to be joyful. If you aren’t feeling it, then something needs to give- take a break or do something different. But enjoy the journey, learn along with your kids and have fun with it all! Kids are fun- everything is new and as they discover new things, you will rediscover with them. Be playful and enjoy the journey. Raising kids is hard, it is a lot of responsibility, but they really do grow fast, so make sure you enjoy the ride!


I know this list may seem overwhelming. The reality is that you may not be able to do everything on this list. But I do think that with careful planning and time management, you will be able to do a lot. And depending on your child’s preferences, strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to help them cover the material that will be of most benefit to them. The most important thing academically for kids is to be able to read, write and do basic math. Then they have the tools for learning more on their own.

It is also good to remember that the kids have 18 years to do all this. They won’t do everything every year. They may focus on different aspects in different years. They my delve deeply into some subjects and not deeply at all into others. As they grow, you will find areas of weakness on which they need to improve. One of my sons has done years of vision therapy. That wasn’t on this list, but we have certainly learned a lot about the eyes and the brain through the process, and his character has been developed through it also. And his siblings have a greater appreciation for it as well. And who knew there was a whole line of work and schools for such a thing?

Ultimately, the kids should develop of love of learning and of challenging themselves. They should love God and seek to serve Him. They should love others and be able to work well with others. They should be at least familiar with the various aspects of life and have compassion for those around them. They should not be afraid of any subject or think they couldn’t do it if they really wanted to or had the opportunity.

In upcoming blog posts, I will be exploring each of the areas further and listing my favorite curricula for the different topics. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter if you want an email notification as I get those posts published!

Thanks for reading- I hope this was helpful!!

Is there anything you would add to this list? I’d love to hear it!


Amber is the mother of 8 kids ages 19 - 6 including 6 boys in a row and a set of twins. She has a lot of experience with homeschooling, parenting, getting kids to do their chores, cleaning and keeping it all organized. She currently lives in France with the 6 boys- the oldest is on a mission for their church in Tahiti, and the next daughter is headed to college in January!