What is life skills instruction?
As teachers, we are expected to teach much more than academics. All teachers, not just special educators, help students learn life skills during the school day.
So, what are life skills? Most people initially think of basic living functions such as cleaning, hygiene, and cooking when they hear life skills. While these are skills that a qualified special educator needs to assist in, life skills include much more and can be taught in all classrooms!
According to Indeed, life skills are "any skills you need to manage the activities and challenges of everyday life effectively. Mastery and development of these skills can improve all areas of your life, from your work to your relationships. They allow you to handle almost everything better, from processing your emotions more effectively to interacting with others." Today we will briefly cover 7 life skills from Indeed and share ideas of how you might help instill these in your students.
Communication skills: Our students need to know how to communicate verbally, in writing, and through body language. We can explicitly teach our students how to write emails or letters and also what body language portrays other people. This can also help with language arts instruction.
Resiliency: Everyone has failures and we need to know how to push through them. Positive self-talk in the classroom is one way to help students when failures do arise. Phrases such as "failures are really just opportunities to grow" can help students in moments of disappointment.
Decision-making skills: Making decisions is a part of everyday life. All students, especially students with social/emotional disabilities, need to be taught crucial steps of decision-making. In addition to teaching skills such as weighing pros and cons, we can offer students choice in the classroom. Make sure that these choices are things that you can handle as a teacher, but allow the student room to have autonomy in the class.
Cooperation: This is a major skill in regards to making friends and advancing in employment. Providing team-building activities and group work can give students the chance to learn how to cooperate with others.
Ability to accept constructive criticism: Constructive criticism is a wonderful means to improving professionally, in personal relations, and in educational settings. The best way to help students learn to accept constructive criticism is to give it to your students as their teacher! Make sure to practice how you deliver constructive criticism to build up your students while providing correction.
Time-management skills: In order to stay self-disciplined and be accountable, time-management skills are vital. This is a difficult one to help instill in students in the classroom since the class schedule is determined by the staff of the school and the teacher. However, having a schedule posted and helping students take time to write down their homework assignments will help begin the process of being accountable with their time.
Technology skills: Last, but most certainly not least, is technical skills. In this day and age, knowing how to use a computer and cell phone are critical life skills. Don't be afraid to incorporate technology in your classroom! Show your students how to be a master of technology rather than letting technology control them.
These are just a few examples of critical life skills that we can help all of our students learn. Regardless of ability level, these are things our students can learn with help and explicit instruction.
Are you interested in teaching more life skills such as daily living? Check out our special education major here.