Life skills are an important part of youth development. We all want our children and mentees to be adequately prepared for the “real” world. Just telling stories about how you were raised or how things were “back in the day,” isn’t enough. Adults have a responsibility to teach and model life skills to children, even as early as toddlers, in order to set the stage for success.
Participating in the culture of home and family life is a fantastic way to introduce children and youth to life skills. For the purpose of this article I am defining the term, children, as those individuals up to the age of 14, and the term, youth, between the ages of 15 and 24. Both children and youth can benefit from home life by participating in household chores, meal planning and establishing family activities and traditions. Toddlers can learn how to clean up after play time. School-age children can help set and clear the table. Middle school children may learn to wash the dishes and care for younger siblings. Whatever family make up and lifestyle you have, the day to day activities will certainly provide good opportunities to teach life skills.
Maximizing Character has had the opportunity to teach life skills in school and community settings in order to help children and youth develop important life skills. Skills such as manners and etiquette, social skills, employability skills and self care have been our organization’s cornerstone of life skills.
We recently had the opportunity to help students develop life skills during Camp Launch at the College of William and Mary. Camp Launch is a two-week residential program for seventh- and eighth-grade students with enrichment and academic opportunities. The children are recruited from school districts around Virginia. They participate in with courses in STEM, writing, and personal development. Maximizing Character has had the pleasure of completing Week one of the personal development classes. Lessons included goal setting, banking and budgeting skills, learning how to manage a budget based on mock careers, salaries and family size and development of a self care plan. The camp participants also completed mock job applications and engaged in role playing interviews using 10 of the most popular interview questions.
During the camp’s personal development course, students also inquired about saving money, how to start businesses, and how businesses and nonprofit organizations compensate themselves and employees. The children wanted to learn more about essential life skills as well as their own career interests. It is imperative that the adults in their lives, be intentional about training and modeling these life skills. We often do not consider certain things or take them for granted. However, in an age where children and youth can easily look up and learn from the internet, television and social media, we want to be sure to equip them with the positive and impactful life lessons and skills they will need to succeed.