Schools need to teach more practical and useful life skills. This is a topic that has been discussed for many years now. Having students learn everything they can about their chosen subjects is helpful and teaches children how to learn and stick to a schedule, but is this enough?
The World Health Organisation defines life skills as: “A group of psychosocial competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions, solve problems, think critically and creatively, communicate effectively, build healthy relationships, empathize with others, and cope with and manage their lives in a healthy and responsible manner.” Teaching skills and information that is needed beyond the classroom might help students feel more motivated to learn. Once they know what they are learning will be used for the rest of their lives more students will feel inclined to try harder to master those skills and learn more effectively.
Some examples of life skills that could be taught and ways they can be taught include:
While sticking to a school schedule and meeting deadlines is a practical way of teaching these skills, this skill can be taught in more obvious ways. Life planning projects can help students understand how long certain tasks take in the real world like waking up on time, commuting, making dinner, making time to go shopping and planning out a week or a month of their real world life is a good way to enforce this skill.
Budget planning projects that require students to find jobs, budget lifestyle expenses, and find apartments using real estate sites will provide a very real look at what life will be like and how important it is to live within your means and keep to a budget. Teaching students how to do taxes in maths class, smart investment choices in finance classes and learning to identify scams is also a good way of helping students understand basic money management skills.
Teaching the importance of a clean and organised environment teaches students to be efficient at home and even in their future working spaces. Having students learn to cook, proper cleaning methods and practically doing them will teach students some essential skills. Students can also be taught how to repair, replace lightbulbs, basic plumbing, and DIY. Another aspect of housekeeping that could be covered is how to improve a house’s resale value through expansions and property upkeep.
This is a crucial skill that needs to be taught and reinforced every year. Proper communication skills, empathy, seeing things from other people’s perspectives and teaching respect will make a massive difference in the way kids talk to each other and think about their own actions.
Positive self-image development
In a world where bullying and cyber bullying are incredibly hard to escape, the development of positive self-image and building self-confidence is an invaluable skill. Projects where students describe themselves and identify their best traits is a good way of exploring their psyche and letting them see their own self-value.
Growth mindset and self-improvement
Having confidence in yourself is one thing but seeing where you need to develop in a positive light is an even rarer attribute people have theses days. Knowing how to improve yourself and in which areas you need improving can really change the course of a person’s life. Teacher feedback, team projects, EQ tests and psychology classes are good places to start establishing this level of self-awareness and promote the importance of growing and self-development.
Arguably the most important life skill that can be taught. During exam periods especially, students need to know how to achieve a healthy work-life balance, identify the causes of stress, understand the dangers of stress and working with students to find their ideal way of coping with stress and anxiety might be the most valuable thing students can learn.
Should more life skills be taught in school? Yes, absolutely. These are just a handful of examples of real ways to teach students real tangible skills that will help them more than most textbooks ever could. Teachers should include some of these life skills in their curriculums and talk to their schools about including more valuable life skills in their syllabuses.
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