Chip Clip Ed: A Curriculum My Children Need

I opened the pantry this morning for “a little something” as Winnie the Pooh would say. As I dug through our snack shelf, searching for the almonds I’d clipped shut last night, I ran across a bag of pretzels, or should I say a bag that once held more than six stale pretzels, with a chip clip mid bag, holding on by its corner to one side of the bag only. It appeared to be there for ornamentation only. Oh, where to begin?

My children are smart — brilliant at times. They talked early and prolifically, mused about life and death and the meaning of both before kindergarten, fell deeply into subjects like Ancient Roman history and meteorology before the lost their first baby teeth, and generally show all the signs of being smart cookies. They can — and do — vacuum, dust, and sweep. Alas, it seems the more mundane practical life skills — the chip clip variety of skills — correlate poorly with high scores on IQ and achievement tests. As I enroll my older in advanced computer programming classes while musing on my younger’s need for more rigorous writing curriculum, I wonder how these children will survive in the world, or at least how they’ll ever have cereal that isn’t soggy before the milk hits it.

Here’s what I want: classes to teach them the basics of surviving and even thriving in the world. It’s a simple enough request, isn’t it? And should they partner later in life, it seems important that they master a few basic skills. Here’s what I want for them:

How to Keep Good Food From Going Bad:  After an opening exercise of rummaging through the back of the pantry for lonely chip clips and empty bags, beginners will attend sessions such as  “How to Use a Chip Clip” and “Folding Bags Within Boxes: It’s Not Just for Cereal.” Advanced topics would include “Matching Container Size to Leftovers,” “Successful Zipping of Food Bags,” and “Proper Storage of Unfinished Liquids.” Prerequisites: Ability to use a chip clip without self-injury. Or not. They seem to learn quickly.

Exploring the Concept of Empty: The concept of zero challenged great thinkers until about 2500 years ago, so it’s not surprising kids struggle with the practical aspect of zero: the empty container. Enroll now for sessions such as “When the Dredge of Milk Isn’t Even Enough for Mom’s Coffee,” “The Last Three Mini Wheats: An Early Morning Conundrum,” and “Depression and Anger: The Consequences of Disappointment When Picking Up the Empty Box”.

Beyond Empty: Remove, Recycle, Replace: Now that they can identify empty and the consequences of the concept, students in this advanced class learn about choosing the appropriate waste disposal method and replacement of key items, like toilet paper and tissue boxes. Extra credit is given for alerting the family procurer of items out of stock. Lecture titles include “Toilet Paper Planning: Saving Embarrassment and Maintaining Privacy,” “From Cupboard to Bin: Preparing Materials for Recycling,” and the ever-popular, “Empty Boxes Don’t Refill: A Study of the Replacement Process.”

Laundry Myths and Facts: No, there is no laundry fairy. Convince your child with stimulating and sense-intense topics like “Balled Socks and Jeans with Inside Out Legs Don’t Come Clean,” “Finders Keepers: Laundry as and Entrepreneurial Endeavor,” and “Washed Gum and Crayons Affect Us All.” Advanced students may move onto “Putting it Away” (syllabus below)

Putting it Away– Socks, Spoons, and More: Taught in the individual’s home, this course will show your child just where everything goes. This course covers everything, from  laundry (“Drawer or Hamper? How to Discern Where That Garment Goes”) to dishes (“Look Before You Load: Are Those Dishes Clean?” and the more advanced “Cupboards and Drawers: A Place for Everything”).  Special attention will be paid to returning chip clips to their proper place after use.  An interactive session on using hangers and closing drawers is included.

Where is It?: Children often lose what is in sight. This course addresses both ends of lost items — looking effectively and putting things where they belong. Attention to personal property is the focus in this follow-up to “Putting it Away.” Schoolwork, musical instruments, sports equipment, and other items are addressed in the session “Yes, There’s A Place for It.” For what does not get put away properly, we offer, “I Have to Look the Same Way You Do,” a course emphasizing the personal responsibility of the one who lost the item. “Search Strategies: Standing in the Middle of the Room is Not Searching” addresses challenging issues, such as  the last place one had the item, actually looking under that heap of papers on the table, and searching for more than 30 seconds before panicking.

Watercloset Wisdom: Does your child leave the bathroom a scene akin to the aftermath of a Category 5 hurricane? Do you need a Hazmat suit to enter? Whether you share a bathroom with your offspring or not, this course can help. “When Toothpaste Escapes” focuses on management of the tube, from cap replacement to sink (or floor) wiping for accidents. “Towel and Washcloth Management: Only You Can Prevent Mold and Mildew” and ” Close the Curtain Tight!” are public health and safety classes included in the curriculum. Boys may attend an additional session on apparatus control, seat placement, and flushing. Repeat attendees welcome.

I sense I’m not alone. Many of you are also raising smart kids who have difficulty applying mathematical, scientific, and psychological concepts to daily life despite (and I bet you keep checking, too) amazingly high test scores. That same child who can rescue you from your latest computer crash CAN learn to recycle the empty granola bar box. It just takes the right curriculum.


13 thoughts on “Chip Clip Ed: A Curriculum My Children Need

  1. I LOVE this curriculum!
    You need to add a “Switches, Buttons, and Dials: Turning it Off” sub section, to include “The Xbox: Heat Kills”, “If a Light is on In Your Bedroom and No One is There to Perceive it, Photons are Still Being Produced”, “TV Screen Burnout” and “Computer Electrostatic Dust Bunnies From He**”.
    Thanks for a great AM chortle!

  2. I am ROLLING with laughter. In my house, as part of “Washed Gum and Crayons…” there would need to be a day entirely devoted to shredded Kleenex. And when exploring the concept of empty, an advanced class dedicated to “How to Add Items to the Shopping List.”

  3. For “Beyond Empty” course, please add a lecture called “My deodorant is hurting me and I smell bad” that explains that deodorant wasn’t intended to be a one time purchase. Scraping the empty plastic container of deodorant against your armpits will not fight odors effectively and can cause injury. Hands on activities will include comparing a full and empty deodorant container to try to determine differences and looking at the list of active ingredients to determine if “empty plastic container” is listed. Advanced students will be permitted to explore questions such as “what is the difference between what something is and how it appears?”

  4. Paper of all types in the laundry needs addressing, certainly. And I’m thinking the course on electronic items could be part of a bigger environmental series including “Time Management Applied to Refrigerator and Freezer Use” and “Dressing for the Season: The Thermostat Doesn’t Budge Until All Are Properly Dressed.” The deodorant addition is duly noted, although certain local participants first need to understand that simply owning personal hygiene products is not sufficient for them to be effective.


  5. Love it! Especially When Toothpaste Escapes. I need one called It’s Raining Pencils and Pens to fine tune stationery-care and management. An advanced class on When the Dredge of Milk would be helpful for my adult clueless guy too. I actually started on Cupboards and Drawers yesterday. Supplemented it with Proper Uses of Dish Towel and Preventing Pantry Critters.

  6. Oh my goodness! YES! It can be so hard to cope with the reality of asynchronous learning. My heart goes out to you. Thank you.

  7. These are all so good — thanks for the chuckle! We need How To Tell Your Battery is Low and How To Charge Electronic Devices (before you need to leave the house).

  8. LOVE! We need..If one dish is on the counter, it’s not a free pass to forget about the dishwasher” and “The entire house is not your school desk.”
    Among others!
    My senior just freaked out the other day because I had “failed to teach her how to do the laundry” as if I haven’t been telling her for at least 10 years but she never cared. Now that she’s moving out to go to college, she has realized she hasn’t “been taught.”
    So great!

  9. I’m such a geezer I actually think this stuff is important. I think kids could learn a lot of stuff really quickly if they had to experience some consequences for irresponsible behaviour. Well, maybe with an exception for the toilet paper shortage…..

    • They are important skills, and I think why this post has resonated with folks is because these skills are crucial.It seems kids would pick up over time by living with those doing and by hearing explanations for why they are done, but not so much. Mine don’t seem to mind stale cereal or socks that don’t come clean, however, and you have to mind the natural consequences for these to be incorporated easily into routine. Thus the fun – perhaps formal classes would help.

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