Students are leaving school before you know it. One minute they’re handing in assignments, and the next you’re handing out diplomas. If you’re a teacher or a parent (or both), you know that’s no exaggeration. Leaving school is a big deal for students, and it’s both an ending and a beginning. It takes some meaningful life skills to put them in the best place for achieving their goals. After all, the key to success is preparation.
We’ve talked about the skills and mindsets students can benefit from having after leaving school. In reality, the bigger their toolboxes are the better. The life skills we’re talking about here are things we don’t always consider in the curriculum.
Knowing the following things can improve the quality of a student’s life in many ways. We’ll go through each one and define some key points that are part of it. The points are not comprehensive lists; they merely offer suggestions for starting. Teachers will encourage students to expand their learning as much a possible, and these areas are no different.
Many of these life skills are unconscious things kids grew up with, while others take some serious application and work to learn. The point is they are all learnable and incredibly useful.
1. Building Relationships
The personal and professional relationships students build need constant attention. All relationships come with unique challenges. Learning how to handle them fosters relationships that are healthy and beneficial.
Skills include: Collaboration skills, communication skills, listening skills, giving/accepting feedback, conflict resolution, self management, and stress management.
2. Financial Literacy
Managing money is a skill that any student leaving school must have. It’s not often given much attention, however. A study done in 2012 indicated that only about 17% of teens know how to handle money. Another study performed around the same time indicated that financial literacy was an area of interest for over 80% of teens in high school. So the interest in it is definitely there.
Skills include: Saving and investing, tax preparation skills, keeping good financial records, budgeting, banking, and credit knowledge.
3. Renter’s Rights and Responsibilities
Any renter knows about the things that can go wrong with apartments. It’s crucial for any student renting their first apartment to be fully aware of their rights and responsibilities. Knowledge is protection, in this case.
Skills Include: Familiarity with applicable landlord/tenancy guidelines, how to properly inspect an apartment, emergency procedures, legal protection/obligations as a renter, shopping for and buying renter’s insurance.
4. Basic Home Skills
Not everybody loves cooking, cleaning, and maintenance. Nevertheless, they are good things to learn and practice. They can keep you healthy and save you money. This also extends into the essentials of home ownership. That’s both a tremendous responsibility and a noteworthy accomplishment.
Skills include: Cooking and cleaning, household maintenance upkeep, lot maintenance/gardening, and legal/financial obligations to home owning.
5. Social Skills
Unless you’re a recluse, you know much of our lives are spent interacting with others. The ability to do this effectively means being able to talk to and relate to others.
Skills include: Respecting people’s boundaries and protecting your own, conversational skills, self-esteem and confidence, awareness of body language and other non-verbal communication, taking care of yourself and others in public places, and interacting with authority figures like police/emergency personnel etc.
6. Job Hunting Skills
No life literacy skills list would be complete without mentioning this one. That’s because chances are students will be using them a lot. It’s not uncommon to see career changes happen at least 5–6 times in the average person’s life.
According to Workopolis, 51% of people stay with their jobs for no more than 2 years. In addition, only 30% of people stay in a job for over 4 years. The working world is changing fast. Make sure students can keep up with the trends.
Skills include: Goal setting, sourcing job opportunities, communication skills, interview skills, social media skills, problem solving, time management, resume formatting/updating, and building a portfolio.
7. Personal Health and Wellness
In his book Sly Moves, Hollywood action star and movie director Sylvester Stallone declares a sobering truth: all the money and success in the world are meaningless without personal health. “If you don’t have your health,” he claims, “you’ve got nothing.” It follows that our only true wealth is our health.
When we are healthy, life is more enjoyable. We remain adaptable and resilient in the face of challenge. We are able to pursue opportunities with greater gusto and efficiency. Personal health and wellness are the cornerstones of true success—they are the real wealth.
Skills include: Proper nutrition, proper exercise, proper rest, basic hygiene, mental and emotional health, first aid knowledge, disease prevention, positive visualization, meditation, work-life balance, hobbies, and other creative pursuits.
Students enjoy school so they can enjoy life and we can guide them toward the life skills to make that possible. The more they know, the more prepared they will be to handle life’s obstacles. That’s what they learn for, and why you teach them. But what you teach them matters just as much, so don’t stop at the curriculum. Give them the best reasons to be lifelong learners.