Life skill programs are lacking––and parents need help teaching their children
Updated: Jun 4
Within the US education system, life skill programs are few and far between, often coming down to the parents to educate their children on the basics
Image source: The Gateway School
Where do life skills fit into our concept of education?
Life skills are essential concepts for every child to learn and develop, regardless of ability.
However, the American education system is still figuring out where teaching life skills fall in our education system and concept of education. This is especially true for those children who have learning challenges and need special attention to help develop these skills.
While there are currently some programs and classes available for developing life skills, they are not accessible to everyone, only a select few. What does that mean for students without access? What does that mean for children with difficulties?
Most schools like to focus heavily on reading, writing, and math, but what about the practical skills children and young adults will need in their future careers and adulthood? For example, who is to teach them about finances and money spending? Who is to teach them how to budget and save?
Of course, parents can help their children learn life skills such as budgeting. However, some parents aren’t always available to sit down and help teach their children because of work or other responsibilities. If the school system focused on teaching students practical skills such as how to cook and manage their money, students would be more likely to feel confident in their independence going into adulthood and their careers.
Support programs for teaching life skills do exist but are limited and understaffed.
Programs that support children with special needs and help them learn life skills exist. For example, The Gateway School teaches children with difficulties about the three major life skill areas: daily living, social skills, and occupational skills.
According to Gateway School, their program includes functional living skills instruction such as self-care, personal hygiene, laundry, cooking, and cleaning, social skills instruction through individual and group activities, and community-based instruction.
While these programs do exist, they are hard for children to get into and so few and far between.
Rural areas rarely see programs like such, which makes accessibility an essential factor in the concept of life skills being a part of nationwide education. In addition, programs which do exist are limited and often understaffed. As we look towards the future, we need to contemplate how we can make more room for life skills and educators on this subject.
Image source: Parenting Special Needs
Parents need help teaching life skills––they cannot do it alone.
It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure that they’re doing everything they can to benefit and further their child’s education and growth throughout their young adult lives. However, parents have other responsibilities, too––including working and putting food on the table. As a result, parents may not have the time they desire––or their child needs––to provide them with all the necessary information on some life skills.
Today, parents often feel they’re fighting an uphill battle to teach their children every necessary skill and tip they could use before they enter adulthood. It can be challenging for them to keep track of what skills their children already know and what skills they lack because the subjects may never have arisen–from filling out a tax form, budgeting, or networking. For this reason, parents need support from the education system just as much as their children do.