What happens if life skills are taught in high school?
Oh, you mean if we decide A’s aren’t worth A’s in real life, and F’s actually mean you learn a valuable lesson you can grow from the future? Wild concept!
This article title alone says a lot: Teaching Life Skills in Schools May be as Important as Arithmetic and Reading. In case you’re not going to read it, we’ve summarized the main point for you here:
“What students learn in school can carry them far beyond the next class exam. While test-taking expertise is important, so too are tools they can apply after their education ends: financial literacy, technical know-how or even the chops to maintain and run a business. Classrooms are training centers, where students learn the ability to be scholars, of course, but also where they learn how to operate as citizens of the world.”
One report says the students who receive life skills education will have better chances of staying in a job once they land one. They will also be more successful business owners. Truly, the possibilities are infinite, but we don’t know them yet because this hasn’t yet been explored.
For now, we’ll let the numbers speak for themselves:
- 88% of young people, 94% of employers and 97% of teachers say life skills are as, if not more, important than academic skills.
- 53% of teachers believe life skills determine success far more than academic achievements, and 72% of teachers believe the school should increase focus on life skills.
- 13% of teachers know where to get information that supports life skill development.
- 75% of young people think life skills training would help them get a job, and 88% believe them to be as – if not more – important than good grades.
- Only 20% of students say school curriculum helps them with life skills.
- 94% of employers say life skills are as important as grades in determining student success, and 33% say they are more important.
- 68% of employers say high school graduates don’t have the right skills for the workplace. Just 52% of employers say college graduates have the right skills for the workplace.
Is anyone teaching life skills in their curriculum?
Thankfully, yes. So we guess we should drop the “we’re doomed” talk and tell you where the heck this is happening. Across the U.S. and even beyond, these classes are popping up every day.
P.S. We’re hoping this inspires some of you out there to get involved in these courses. Hit us up anytime to find out more or to express ideas of your own.
What do parents and students have to say about it?
- “Only recently have classes been added to teach students the fundamentals of living, and these classes take but a year of mediocre work and negligible learning.”
- “If a school system can prioritize something that not all of its students will use, it should certainly be able to prioritize something essential to living in modern society.”
- “I feel like school should be a place where I can learn about [other’s] culture and where they came from and them learn about mine. And, of course, you know, have your science and math, and learn how to write. But also not necessarily a culture shock, but a place to broaden your mind.”
- “I think the role of teachers and education in general is to help us progress as a society. Not only in our smarts or technology, but to help us progress as a human race: preparing us to tackle the issues that [our predecessors] couldn’t defeat.”
- “The curriculum sets the direction for our young people to gain the knowledge and life skills they need to become lifelong learners who are confident, connected and actively involved in the world.”
- “This means that in the development of their curriculum, schools provide learning experiences where students can develop a range of life skills.”
- “We teach some quite obscure things in schools that kids will never use again. Things like financial capabilities and drivers licenses would be really good.”
- “It’s still a mentality of learning to pass rather than learning to learn and learning to pass is not setting people up for life.”
- “Education that helps young people develop life skills has transformative potential.”
- “I think that there should be more classes for our students to learn important life skills. Things like taxes, how to ask for a mortgage, how to pay off a loan, what to do in case someone breaks in, all sorts of things.”
- “I agree in the future with our own children that they should teach adulthood in high school so that students will know what to expect when they live on their own.”
What does the curriculum look like?
- Timeline: Between one day to one month
- Subjects: Fixing your car, dressing well, getting insurance, knowing your legal rights, taking care of your finances, cooking, nailing interviews, sewing, performing minor first aid, the list goes on. See the specialties below.
- Basis of knowledge: Zero to none. You don’t have to be an expert on these subjects because we meet you at any skill level and take you to a moderate to advanced understanding.
- Spokespeople: The friendly faces you see explaining each of these subjects are experts in their respective fields and want the same for you.
- Age range: 6th grade to mid-30s, because we’re a fan of the lifelong student
Who is the face of this life skills curriculum?
While it varies, our favorite is anyone who’s passionate about the subject they’re teaching. Several of these programs have different instructors for each topic, which is perfect because the person who’s teaching you to sew a button back on your jeans is likely not as skilled with a knife in the kitchen as they are with a needle.
I mean, they could be after taking one of these courses. But you get what we mean – if someone is passionate and knowledgeable about a subject, students are going to listen.
And don’t be one of those bonehead students who’s too cool to listen to any authority figures. Your roommates, significant others, etc. etc. will laugh at you for not knowing how to do these things otherwise.
In my opinion, all high school aged kids should be forced to take an "Adulting class" that shows them how to balance a checkbook, read a credit score, register to vote, flip a breaker, unclog a toilet, change the oil on a car, and hide gifts from Santa.
— One million REOs (@CuriouslySmooth) December 27, 2019
Which schools teach life skills to their students?
- Why we like it: This is a choose-your-own adventure course, where students choose the skills they feel they are lacking in.
- Who it’s for: Seniors at Bullitt Central High School in Shepherdsville, Kentucky
- What it’s like: A one-day program swapped with algebra and literature
- What they teach: Paying bills, changing a tire, cooking, sewing, budgeting, depression
- What people are saying:
- “I think that the idea occurred to me, originally, I saw a Facebook post saying [students] needed a class in high school on taxes and cooking. This is a day they could pick and choose pieces they didn’t feel like they had gotten so far.”
- “This should be taught in every high school.”
- “About time this came back, it was called Home Economics. In today’s diverse makeup of families it would be a welcome addition.”
- “Why in the world is that not taught today? I mean, a special day called adulting to teach kids this stuff? Should be a required class credit.”
— Brad Hughes (@GYMObrad) December 16, 2018
- Why we like it: The lesson length makes these after-school sessions digestible and allows a small time commitment on the student’s part to be extremely effective.
- Who it’s for: Marshalltown High School’s after-school program participants
- What it’s like: Monthly 30-minute lessons on life skills that help navigate the real world
- What they teach: Social media, health and wellness, cooking and sewing, insurance, resume writing, simple car maintenance
- Why we like it: This focuses on all the successes that students have already had and – as a result – not given attention to other areas of their life. It builds on a standard of intelligence students inherently possess.
- Who it’s for: Students at UC Berkeley, by application only
- What it’s like: Taught by undergraduate students at the university, these people have experienced firsthand the skills they would like to improve on and bring in the right experts to do so.
- What they teach: Planning and cooking meals, balancing a budget, managing a schedule, navigating interpersonal relationships
- What people are saying:
- “Maybe it is our parents who aren’t teaching us these things we thought we should already know, but we don’t want to blame our parents for us being naive or ignorant. It’s our responsibility as college students to know that if we’re struggling in some aspect, there are resources out there for us.”
- “[These] super-serious, very hard-working young adults… have little of anything that might look like unstructured free time, known to be highly important for mental and emotional development. And, no, they’re not using what little free time they have to learn how to bake a cake or fix a dripping faucet.”
- Why we like it: This hands-on course allows students to experiment with tools needed to complete these skills, all while learning as they go.
- Who it’s for: Seniors at Fern Creek High School in Louisville, Kentucky
- What it’s like: Three days during the last week of high school in hands-on workshops
- What they teach: Financial skills, mental health, home, professional skills
- What people are saying:
- “A lot of our kids are going to go out and they’re going to move out, and they’re on their own. Now, hopefully they’re a little bit more prepared for that.”
- Why we like it: Even the smartest students in the country are eating up these classes and busting down the myth that if you’re smart in one way, you’re smart in all the ways.
- Who it’s for: Harvard students
- What it’s like: 1-2 hour free, not-for-credit classes with 12-40 students (filled to capacity)
- What they teach: Car care basics, wardrobe, health insurance, legal consulting
- What people are saying:
- “Thank you for doing this.”
- “It’s clear that everyone is having a blast in the cooking classes.”
- “In addition to learning some practical skills, it’s important to learn how to work with people across your organization.”
- Why we like it: The program creators chose the most hard-hitting life skills to teach, working with the students hands-on to develop their adulting abilities.
- Who it’s for: Seniors at Industrial High School in Vanderbilt, Texas
- What it’s like: Part of one day spent at hands-on learning stations
- What they teach: Finances, food safety, self defense
- What people are saying:
- “Many probably wish they had a program like this in high school, one that better prepares you for real world situations.”
- “These kids are no longer kids, they are graduating seniors and they are now adults.”
- “It was nice to get a solidarity, this is what happens and this is real life, and don’t forget to do this.”
- Why we like it: This program is taught across one entire school district – so it’s gotta be the most competent one in the country by now, right?
- Who it’s for: 6th – 12th grade students of Florence School District
- What it’s like: A post-testing-season workshop where students learn skills for their needs
- What they teach: Grilling, fishing, police info, car maintenance, sewing
- What people are saying:
- “[Students] always ask, ‘Why aren’t these skills taught at school, and we understand the importance of those skills,’ so this is giving us the opportunity to provide them with these skills.”
- “I was excited to come to school and have a new thing to do instead of the same old normal day.”
- “I’ve never changed a tire, I’ve never sewed, never done anything so it’s kind of nice to get a new experience and learn new things that you don’t really ever get taught how to do.”
- Why we like it: These students’ attention is captivated by instructors like a Marine Sergeant as they learn how to be prepared for “just about anything” as they graduate high school
- Who it’s for: Seniors at Baldwyn High School
- What it’s like: An all-day seminar with door prizes and a pizza send-off
- What they teach: How to write checks, dress a minor wound, navigate the insurance market, dress for an interview
- What people are saying:
- “Students may spend 13 years getting a foundation in a range of academic courses, but sometimes the basic skills fall through the cracks.”
- “Some students will attend college and some will join the workforce, but certain skills will come in handy whatever direction they go.”
- “You need to be prepared for just about anything and that is what the Marine Corps taught me, so I’m trying to teach them about some basic stuff.”
- Why we like it: This idea was suggested by someone on the city’s youth committee, and now the initiative can reach that entire city. Now that is leadership.
- Who it’s for: Young people in Onkaparinga
- What it’s like: A several-week-long pilot program
- What they teach: Cooking, managing your money, changing a tire
- What people are saying:
- “The response has been overwhelming. The program attracted huge interest on social media with a post reaching thousands of people on Facebook.”
- “The idea came from a young person on our Onkaparinga youth committee last year, who said it [would] be great to see a program that talked about all those things you need to learn.”
- “If we’re honest most of us would come out in a cold sweat at the thought of changing a flat tire, or making a roast from scratch, so being taught those sort of skills in school rather than when they happen seems to make sense.”
- Why we like it: This is another program in another country, proving the need for these skills in students around the world. There are several instructors, all of whom are passionate about their particular subject.
- Who it’s for: Seniors at E.J. Lajeunesse in Windsor
- What it’s like: A 100-student program covering an array of topics
- What they teach: Car and home maintenance, financial planning, sewing and laundry, cooking, mindfulness
- What people are saying:
- “It’s important to teach sewing skills… something that’s ‘starting to die off with our grandmothers.’”
- “Not all students are going to take shop and learn how to change a tire. Not all students are going to take an accounting course to learn personal finance.
- Why we like it: You’re kidding, right? An entire state dedicated to teaching students how to manage their personal finances? It’s actually a mandate here that all 14 specific standards are taught and teachers confirm students are knowledgeable in those subjects.
- Who it’s for: All Oklahoma students from grades 7 to 12
- What it’s like: Mandatory classes teaching 14 standards of saving, earning and investing
- What they teach: All finance topics, including bankruptcy, impacts of gambling and charitable giving
- What people are saying:
- “Oklahoma has some of the strongest standards in the country.”
- “We’re basically teaching them how to live on their own.”
- In the very near future, the students participating in the program will make major decisions regarding paying for higher education, establishing their own households and applying for credit, and those choices can have a lasting impact on their lives.”
What does “people being prepared for the real world” look like?
So you’re ready to kick this adulting thing up to the next level after reading this guide? That’s pretty much exactly what we wanted to happen. Hooray! Beyond this product, there are a number of resources you can consult to take the real world head-on.
Since we aren’t fans of waiting for The People In Charge to get their heads in the game, here are a few ideas:
- Interpersonal skills. If you don’t know something, ask the people around you who you trust. More than likely, they’ll be interested in sharing their insight (or lack thereof).
- Podcasts and websites. We’ll share a list of our favorites here. But really, the rules for life change all the time. We’re not talking about the ones it’s cool to now follow; we’re talking about things like student loan rates and updates to overall nutrition. Keeping up on podcasts and websites you enjoy, even when you feel you’ve got a good grasp on things, helps you stay in-the-know of life skills.
- Share the adulting love. If you’re talking to someone who doesn’t know something that you’ve learned from this guide, perhaps you should share this resource with them.
- Become a “benefits of life skills advocate.” Basically, this looks like sharing the adulting love on a larger level. See where administration is really struggling to provide value to their students? Talk to the school board, PTA or that struggling administration about how this guide can help. Not too confident discussing it? Drop us a line.
While we can’t see into the future, we do see that we’re not in this alone. The conversations around life skills education are heating up and we’re proud to work with a team of experts who are leading the charge. And we are beyond stoked to reach people like you who take learning for good into their own hands and strive for a better society.
Life skills are first and foremost preventative mental health skills that allow more young people to lead good, happy and meaningful lives. Teaching life skills supports students' personal growth, by providing knowledge, skills and social capital.
Building Healthy Relationships
A life skill program will teach young people to show empathy and distinguish between listening and hearing. Moreover, it will help them avoid miscommunication, overreacting, and misinterpretation. This will help them build healthy relationships with family and friends.
Benefits for society
The more we develop life skills individually, the more these affect and benefit the world in which we live: Recognising cultural awareness and citizenship makes international cooperation easier. Respecting diversity allows creativity and imagination to flourish developing a more tolerant society.
Life skills can include the ability to manage your emotions, your health, your finances, your relationships, your school performance, etc. – and your ability to master these things has a direct impact on how you feel about yourself, your emotional balance, your physical health and your independence.
Lack of funding. Many schools struggle to get enough money to teach what's already on the curriculum. Lack of time. Even if there are cooking and sewing classes in schools, there's very little time available for them each week.
Schools focus on academic knowledge and teach students to memorize information, and gives them extremely low chances to learn critical life skills. Schools focus on preparing them for universities, but not for jobs and real life. It doesn't teach them how to manage money, how to negotiate, how to communicate.
The big three foundational pillars of life skills education are communication, decision making, and goal setting. Others include academic supplements such as developing teamwork, time management, and study skills.
"What School Doesn't Teach You" by Nihit Mohan is a book on self-help genre. Schools are an educational institutions designed to provide learning environment for the students under the guidance of the teacher.
Managing Time. Possibly the most important skill for young adults to master as they become increasingly independent is time management. When parenting children and teens, it's natural to fall into the habit of creating a calendar for them and enforcing appropriate times for school, sleep, appointments, and recreation.
One of the most important life skills, anyone can develop is the skill of communication in a clear and convincing way in front of others. Communication skills are the abilities a person uses when providing and receiving different types of information.
- Focus and Self-Control.
- Making Connections.
- Critical Thinking.
- Taking on Challenges.
- Self-Directed, Engaged Learning.
- Focus on your interpersonal skills. Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples.
- Keep learning.
- Hire a life coach.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Develop and practice self-awareness.
This skill helps children analyze and evaluate information to guide their beliefs, decisions and actions. Children need critical thinking to make sense of the world around them and to solve problems.
Maintaining basic hygiene
Maintaining personal hygiene include basic life skills like how to use a toilet, wash hands properly, eat with etiquettes, ironing your clothes etc.
Although schools do expose students to valuable skills such as perseverance, responsibility, and social skills, they do not account for the skills used in day-to-day life.
Adulthood is a reality that everyone must enter, but few can manage. Unfortunately, the school system fails to prepare students for adulting, causing an insecurity among young adults. In my experience, the high school curriculum focuses primarily on academic success.
Schools help you get into a college. They do not prepare you for the life ahead of you, and so many students and fresh graduates have trouble saving money and even paying their bills. Schools focus on teaching theories and concepts and do not focus on teaching students how to react in practical situations.
Life Skills is designed to increase student knowledge and skills necessary for everyday living. The course emphasizes goal-setting, decision making and problem solving, communication, healthy lifestyles and relationships, nutrition, personal safety, citizenship and consumerism.
- 5 Things You Cannot Teach People.
- Common sense. I'm not sure where common sense comes from, but some people have it and some just don't. ...
- Confidence. ...
- Experience. ...
- Anything they don't want to learn. ...
- ANYTHING…if they think they know it all.
- Communication and interpersonal skills. ...
- Decision-making and problem-solving. ...
- Creative thinking and critical thinking. ...
- Self-awareness and empathy, which are two key parts of emotional intelligence. ...
- Assertiveness and equanimity, or self-control.
noun. an institution where instruction is given, especially to persons under college age: The children are at school. an institution for instruction in a particular skill or field. a college or university.
- Listening and communication skills.
- Knowing how and where to meet other people.
- Resolving conflicts.
- Putting forward your best self on social media.
- Making meaningful connections with others in real life.
- Increasing emotional intelligence and soft skills.
These life skills include problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills, decision-making, creative thinking, interpersonal relationship skills, self awareness building skills, empathy and coping with stress skills.
Life skills provide the foundation upon which children learn to make decisions, regulate their own behaviour, meet complex challenges and take responsibility for their actions. The new curriculum (DBE, 2012) describes life skills as a subject that is pivotal to the holistic development of learners.
For younger students, you might teach adaptive skills such as proper hand washing, bathroom procedures, oral hygiene, etc. Social skills would include sharing, taking turns, making friends, personal space, etc. For older students, you might also teach life skills such as laundering, ironing, cooking, and cleaning.
Life skills Education is a new mantra of education, that is incorporated in the school curriculum with the aim of the development of educational support services, like social work, school health, specialized education, vocational, general guidance, counseling and psychological services.