This article delves into why imparting crucial life skills — such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and decision-making abilities — is becoming essential within our present educational system. It’s time for us to reassess what truly prepares students for not just college or career prospects but for real-world circumstances as well.
According to the World Health Organization, life skills are:
“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.”
While there’s no definitive list of life skills, here are some examples:
All-encompassing skills like these can’t be left to learn in the home setting alone — especially since kids often spend more time in school.
Imagine young people graduating from school with excellent scores but not knowing the first thing about coping with reality. What if they couldn't communicate effectively? Or couldn’t handle money issues and were always in debt?
It’s both alarming and all-too-common. That’s why parents and teachers alike should play an active role in preparing kids for the future.
Where the school is concerned, that means doing more than merely teaching algebra and biology. While no one can downplay the importance of good academics, it's just not enough without the necessary life skills.
Learning life skills helps young people understand who they are and what they want out of life.
Moreover, young people grow more aware of their own struggles and those of the people around them.
A study by the American Psychological Association found that teens’ average stress level was 5.8 (on a 10 point scale); much higher than the maximum healthy stress level for adults of 3.9.
By becoming aware of this, young people are better equipped to handle what they’re going through and recognize when they need help. This helps reduce incidences of bullying and violence.
The average high school student has oodles of real-life responsibilities to deal with. Between juggling homework, extracurriculars, and trying to maintain a social life — it can feel like too much sometimes.
Especially with evolving technology.
Once upon a time, impossibly perfect magazine models posed the biggest triggers of low self-esteem.
Until social media.
Now young people are bombarded with flawless pictures usually taken out of context. Couple this with the fear of missing out, and you have yourself a recipe for mental turmoil.
Not to mention the strain low self-esteem places on relationships with family, friends, and even romantic relationships. The bottom line, young people have a lot to deal with.
It’s no surprise that adolescent mental health issues have been steadily rising.
Learning through a holistic teaching approach that brings life skills to the classroom can help learners to feel more competent and prepared for the challenges life brings.
Take Jason from Lemon Grove, California. Struggling to find his place, he turned to bullying behaviors and began underperforming at school. But when the school started teaching students through Positive Action, it restored the young boy’s future. Here’s what he had to say:
Let Jason’s story become the norm in your school; contact Positive Action to learn more about a ready-made school curriculum that meets different learning styles.
Now, with that, let’s take a closer look at school curriculums.
Through school curriculums, there are other considerations one must take into account in teaching life skills that are essential in helping a young person develop. One of those is through a popular subject such as Math and economics, which can be used to improve financial literacy.
Math and economics classes don't generally teach students how to effectively manage money.
Many students finish high school not knowing how to manage credit cards, file taxes, or balance checkbooks.
And that's a significant concern given that young people have to make long-reaching financial decisions even before earning a college degree.
The majority have to take out student loans to get a college education. Credit card companies then target these college freshmen with free offers for signing up.
By the time they graduate, they are already knee-deep in debt in an uncertain job market.
Then there's the mortgage, 401K, and car financing. It’s so overwhelming.
According to the National Financial Educators Council, young people are worried about their financial future.
Learning how to manage money early will help kids navigate these complexities better.
Another way to help kids with navigating complexities, is to teach a child to foster healthy communication and interaction.
While everyone can communicate in the most basic sense, it takes real skill to be an effective communicator.
By learning communication skills, students learn to speak clearly and assertively, while respecting other people's opinions. What's more, they learn good listening skills and appropriate responses, including tolerance and open-mindedness.
As Steven R. Covey, author of the best-selling self-help book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, puts it, one habit of highly effective people is to "seek first to understand, then to be understood."
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. Not only that, but these skills will also help students to form healthy connections in the workplace and society.
It's easy to think of communication as common sense, but it's not really. That's why a good life skills program is crucial to set up students for success.
Life is a series of decisions — including big ones like who to spend your life with, whether to have kids, and what career path to choose.
And then there are the small ones like what to wear or what to have for dinner. No matter how small, every choice we make can have a potentially life-changing effect.
It’s important for students to learn how to make confident and well-informed decisions.
Sadly, most teenagers are ill-equipped to handle decision-making and succumb to the negative influence of peer pressure. For example, kids may choose to ditch class because the cool kids are doing so, regardless of their school work.
Teaching young people how to evaluate situations from both a logical and emotional perspective will improve their decision-making skills.
Young people are brimming with untapped potential. And they need dedicated skills that empower them to bring out the best in themselves.
The Positive Action program can help teachers, parents, and guardians set young people on the right path. We have a comprehensive curriculum and implementation training with resource kits for:
It’s a proven philosophy. Get in touch with Positive Action today for the curriculum and kits, training, and more. Positive Action will help you achieve the best outcomes — well-rounded, empowered, and educated young people.