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Most countries' school systems today are more concerned with preparing tests than with teaching the students themselves. As a result, these students can perform well on exams but leave the class unable to cope effectively with the pressures and challenges. When confronted with a dilemma or confusion, stepping into the world of a young adult can be perplexing and frightening. As a result, they become depressed, anxious, and unproductive in their jobs and other areas of their lives. This system should be able to help the student develop their future including how to interact with people in the society, in the work environment, be efficient in problem-solving and decision making. Life skills are essential for helping students to make satisfactory initial steps into the adult world and being able to live up to the expectations.
In a rapidly changing world, it is paramount that young adults keep up with the changes and develop skills that enable them to deal with daily life challenges, problem-solving, be productive and live independently in the society. These life skills require nurturance and careful development from a tender age when it is easier to learn something new while still young unlike when the years have advanced (Morgan).
Life skills range from personal and social skills, occupational skills, primarily based on finding and keeping an employment and practical skills or daily living skills such as washing, cooking, making and managing personal budget also called practical skills. (Parmar) Students can learn these skills more efficiently and effectively when they are integrated into the school curriculum and even in other extra curriculum activities. Life skills should, therefore, be taught in schools as a way of molding the student to be all rounded and flexible.
Incorporating Life Skills into School Curriculum
The primary component of any curriculum is to prepare students to become competent and responsible adult in the future and ensure a smooth transition in life. This transformation can only be successful if students are beneficiaries of a life skills curriculum. Because the time spent by students in school with their teachers is more compared to time spent with their parents or guardians, it is more reliable and practical to have a life skill curriculum than letting parents teach their children life skills.
A curriculum that promotes group work and discussions nurtures and develops the students’ skills in teamwork, communication, problem solving and interpersonal relations which are necessary for advancement in the work industries. Many employers today look for an individual who can handle the clients professionally and with excellent communication skills to efficiently pass relevant and useful information. A young adult who benefited from constant exposure to teamwork while in school will have a higher chance of qualifying, unlike the one who had no exposure. Schools also provide a better platform for the development of social and personal skills through interactions with others from diverse backgrounds. They can build strong and lasting relationships, acquire positive behavior and develop good moral values enabling them to be helpful in the society. (Wiedemann, Nana; Ager, Wendy; Suzanne, Ea; Brorson, Semine; Yirgen, Birgitte )
Teachers have a higher responsibility in teaching students to be good communicators by encouraging the students to engage and participate actively in debates, helping them express themselves and present their arguments. Hence such students would have no problems when it comes to explaining themselves before a panel during a job interview in the future.
Introduction of computer, music, arts and design and home Science classes in schools curriculum helps students to acquire knowledge and skills in these areas better equipping them for their future careers and responsibilities as adults. They will also gain the technical skills required to operate a computer or play a musical instrument such that when well nurtured and trained, they can become self-employed, independent and responsible member of the society. Through the home science classes, students can learn various home arts including cooking, decoration and house-keeping skills.
Integrating Life Skills into Extra-Curricular Activities
Extra-curricular activities are those done outside the regular classroom set up. These events are essential in developing the student’s talents and capabilities, at the same time help in acquiring new skills through learning and practice. Actual performance of a skill enhances its retention and the learning process, therefore, when schools give students the chance to do specific activities, they learn faster and better than through theories.
Assigning students activities such as cleaning the classroom, arranging the library, keeping the teacher’s desk neat or photocopying materials enables them to acquire the necessary skills including organizational skills. Participation of students in contests such as arts, drama, and singing improves their ability to interact and communicate with others and builds their self-confidence. Apart from classroom learning, the students also develop their talents and capabilities which they can transform later in life to become their career hence their source of living (Parmar).
Some people claim that parents should take the responsibility t teach their children life skills, however, busy schedules means that sufficient time for the training is unavailable. Likewise, parents may not possess the skill and training to impart the knowledge to the students. Schools solve this issue by ensuring all learners acquire this information. Young adults are facing diverse challenges which need solutions and without a proper foundation on problem-solving while in school, they are likely to be unable to resolve them efficiently. Hence life skills on behavior change and decent living are also essential for them, through programmes such as peer counseling and sex education as part of non-curricular activities. They should be able to understand their sexuality and the dangers of living irresponsibly. Young adults with proper knowledge and skills on these issues can be very productive in the society with the ability to face challenges boldly and find solutions to them, therefore standing out from a crowd. Encouraging and supporting students in the various school clubs nurtures their life skills including financial and stress management by sharing their experiences with other club members hence learning from one another.
Teaching life skills in school should begin from as early as primary to high school when the students are still very young hence it becomes easier to nurture these life skills. Because some students might not make it to high school or college, the life skills they would learn in either primary or high school should help them become responsible young adults in the society. Life skills education enables young adults to be well prepared for the world outside the classrooms, where they will have skills in effective communication, assertiveness yet polite, keeping their emotions in control, problem-solving and stress management.
When students are taught on life skills together with the regular school curriculum, it creates a generation of young adults who are active, confident and responsible who will benefit the society currently and in the future. Life skills are therefore very crucial in developing a nation in all its sectors through character building, and preservation of a societies norms and values and schools act as the best avenue for teaching students on life skills.
Morgan, Carol. "Why Don’t We Teach Life Skills in our Schools?" Huffpost, 4 December 2016, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-carol-morgan/why-dont-we-teach-life-sk_b_9662958.html. Accessed 9 November 2017.
Parmar, Reshef. "Life Skills." Life Skills Education, 6 January 2013, http://resheflsedu.blogspot.ug/2013/01/meaningtypes-history-of-life-skills.html. Accessed 9 November 2017.
Robert K. Throop, Marion B. Castellucci. Reaching Your Potential: Personal and Professional Development. Cengage Learning, 2010.
Wiedemann, Nana; Ager, Wendy; Suzanne, Ea; Brorson, Semine; Yirgen, Birgitte . Life Skills: Skills for Life. Copenhagen: Internationaal Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent Scoieties Reference Centre or Psychosocial Support, 2013. handbook.
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