Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
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.
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.
At the same time, Valerie does not believe that all life skills can be taught via modeling. One example of this has to do with health and hygiene. Because she does not live with her students, she cannot model every meal she eats, so instead she builds time into her class to instruct about healthy choices. Each year with her seventh graders, a time comes when she decides it is appropriate to talk with them frankly about using deodorant and caring for their changing bodies. Though many standardized curricula emphasize academic instruction to the exclusion of life skills, Valerie knows that many of her students need her to deviate from pure academics from time to time.
Social and Organizational Skills
Valerie thinks that social and organizational skills are key to living a happy and successful life. These skills can be hard to teach through modeling and explicit instruction, though. Valerie tries to remain alert over the course of the year to the social conflicts and challenges her students are encountering. She leaves some time each week for role plays and class meetings addressing these social issues so that students can help each other work them out, and sometimes she asks the school social worker to visit to give input and support.
Organizational skills, too, must be taught gradually as students mature. Valerie helps her students develop time and space management skills that they can apply to specific projects and tasks, and she hopes that over time her students will internalize the diversity of strategies she offers.
Valerie knows that there is no one way to live life that is right or superior. In teaching life skills, then, she tries to remain sensitive to the fact that her way of doing things is not necessarily the best or only way - particularly when teaching a group of diverse learners. Valerie asks her students to share their own answers to sticky life situations so that they can learn from each other. Valerie has been pleasantly surprised by how much she has learned from her students and their families!
Life skills are the strategies, techniques, and approaches all people use to survive and thrive in our everyday experience. Learning life skills is essential to keeping healthy, safe, and happy. Teachers can teach the many skills every day within their classroom by modeling certain behaviors and by providing activities to allow children to learn certain skills. Teaching students about life skills will assist them in making good choices and attending to conflicts and problems that will inevitably arise.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack