Basic Life Skills: Introduction


There are a multitude of things we do each day that once learned we take for granted. Driving to work or knowing our way around town using public transportation, deciding what to eat and when to go to sleep, handling shopping, caring for our basic health care needs are things we deal with all the time. Thinking back, most of what we know about these things were either consciously or unconsciously learned in the process of growing up or discovered by trial and error.

We know that young people lacking basic life skills are at higher risk for substance abuse, mental health problems and self-harm. We also know that those lacking in these skills have a harder time adjusting to college life and therefore are more stressed in the transition and more likely to falter. While most of the things we consider to be basic life skills are learned outside of the classroom, we all need to consider how school curricula and activities might support, complement or reinforce the mastery of basic life skills.

There are numerous potential avenues for this. Health classes and physical education can potentially address healthy eating and the importance of adequate sleep for health and good performance. Students can learn about budgets in working on student clubs (this is also a great setting to learn about planning events and comparison shopping).

School administrators, parents and students can work together to find cooperative opportunities to share or combine community and school resources to help young people learn these skills. This is probably happening all the time at your school and you do not even realize that you are supporting your students’ emotional wellness. Read more about Basic Life Skills for Students and for Families.

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