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Teaching Life Skills that go Beyond the Classroom

Every school has set skills they teach their students. But many schools have stopped teaching life skills, leaving our young students inept when they leave our classrooms. 

To combat young adults with lackluster skills, let's review life skills you can incorporate into your lessons that go beyond the classroom. 

Pre-K & Kindergarten Skills

1. Incorporate Literacy with Play

Of course, pre-k and kindergarten teachers should start developing literacy and language skills right away. These students need to learn how to talk, read, and write to meet the basics of future learning. But our young students don't need to sit at their desks all day. Play is a huge tool when teaching literacy and other essential skills. 

Play restaurant with your class and have your students read menus, write orders, and talk to other students. You could even invite parents to participate in this classroom restaurant. 

2. Encourage Leadership

It's never too early to nurture leadership skills in learners, and young students love to volunteer to help. Rotate classroom tasks such as snack helpers, trash pickup, homework collection, etc. Each task will give the student a sense of responsibility while giving them "power" to aid their classmates. 

3. Become Global Citizens

Teach your young students what it means to be a global citizen, a member of the larger world. Teach students to appreciate different cultures, countries, and family units.

You can teach global citizenship through social studies lessons and global curriculum themes. But the best teaching maybe by inviting community members or parents with varying backgrounds to share about their life.

Elementary & Middle School Skills

1. Time Management

Younger-aged students may struggle with time management. Provide opportunities to teach deadlines, how to divide tasks into manageable chunks, keep calendars, set alarms, block time for homework, etc. 

Don't forget to encourage time to play, eat, and sleep as young students still need to be kids. 

2. Communication Skills

Many of us connect communication skills with academics and language arts. However, teachers need to go further than merely teaching literary analysis or vocabulary. Try to dig into these applications; as they help students become better communicators.

For example:

  • Have students learned to disagree and persuade without getting emotional or physical?
  • Can students write professional emails?
  • Do your students know how to ask for help politely?
  • Have your students learned how to greet, introduce and say goodbye politely?

3. Social-Emotional Skills

Try to use various tools to help your students understand their inner motivations. Have you ever used TruSpark assessment? This is a fantastic online sorting app that uses personal stories as a basis for highlighting three core motivations (out of 19).

TruSpark helps you identify and appreciate a student's unique traits. Ultimately, students can interpret their differences (from other individuals) as gifts. Through Truspark, students acquire a lens through which they can interpret conflict and avoid misunderstandings.

High School Skills

1. Teach Critical Thinking

Don't merely teach your students to memorize facts; instead, adopt an inquiry-based approach. Encourage discovery by combining playful exploration, questioning, teacher-guided investigations, instruction, and discussion.

Some schools utilize multisensory learning experiences to introduce new information and situations to help students use critical thinking and see outside their own "world."

2. Household and Automotive Life Skills

Teach your students household and automotive lessons as these are essential life skills that will benefit them in the real world!

Examples of lessons include:

  • Sewing: Repair a loose button or torn seam.
  • Tools: Identify and use each tool correctly, including a hammer, screwdriver, and pliers.
  • Automotive: Identify low tire pressure and how to add the correct amount of air. Identify how to pump gas, check and fill car fluids, and properly change a tire.
  • Safety: Teach the proper protocol for what to do after a car accident.
  • Culinary: Teach meal planning, meal budgeting, and how to craft simple dishes from scratch.

Other essential skills may include how to do your laundry, washing dishes, and cleaning the bathroom. Advanced skills may consist of CPR training, babysitting, and parallel parking. While these skills are necessary, they may not be ideal for teaching in the classroom without the correct tools. 

3. Money Management Skills

While many older students know how to spend money online, on their phones, and in person, they may lack money management skills. Money management skills may include: 

  • Saving
  • Budgeting
  • Spending
  • Charitable giving
  • Credit rating and use of credit cards
  • Filing income tax returns
  • Handling mortgages and loans

Written by John O. Ndar
Education World Contributor
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