Teaching Life Skills to Children

Teaching Life Skills to Children
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  • 0:00 Importance of Teaching…
  • 1:00 Modeling
  • 2:00 Explicit Instruction
  • 2:35 Social & Organizational Skills
  • 3:20 Cultural Sensitivity
  • 3:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

This engaging lesson addresses a very important part of growing up, learning life skills. This lesson will review what life skills are and give examples on teaching some of the important ones within the classroom.

Importance of Teaching Life Skills

Life skills are the strategies, techniques, and approaches all people use to survive and thrive in our everyday experience. Some of us acquire life skills without even thinking about it. We learn them from our parents and loved ones, we watch other people go about their daily routines, and we perfect our own skills by trial and error. For others of us, life skills might not come as easily. We might simply struggle to figure them out, or we might feel as though no one was ever patient enough to show us the way. Children, like adults, vary a great deal in their ability to pick up life skills. By teaching life skills in the classroom, we can help even the playing field and set children up for success in their own lives.

Valerie is a teacher who has observed that her seventh-grade students, though in many cases very smart, lack certain basic life skills, including things like being able to interact appropriately with others, handling money, and coping with stress. Certain actions, such as proper hygiene and safe play, are also considered life skills, and Valerie knows it is her job to help her students with these skills.

Modeling

Valerie understands that one of the most important ways she can teach life skills to her seventh graders is modeling her own behaviors. One thing she likes to do is think out loud when she feels she is practicing a particular life skill. For instance, when she is calculating the cost of a particular classroom material, Valerie might say to her class, 'I need to think about whether we can afford this! Here's what I do when I'm trying to budget.' She then performs the calculation and makes the decision with their help. When teaching life skills to children, it is important to remember that modeling the behaviors you are trying to teach will deliver fast results.

Even with less concrete life skills, modeling can go a long way. Valerie often goes through a brief yoga routine at the beginning of the class period. She tells her students that this is her way of centering and relieving stress or tension. She then asks her students what they do to relieve stress. In this way, Valerie models self-care as a life skill and also shows how open dialogue about life skills can be liberating and helpful.

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