Wondering what basic life skills you need to function as an adult? Here are 10 practical, functional, important life skills that we wish were taught in school.
School and University are where we usually learn and prepare ourselves to become a professional in the field of our choice. However, where many schools and universities fail is in teaching life skills that students need to survive as adults.
These include basic life skills like emotional intelligence, practical life skills like money management and functional life skills like basic survival skills. This life skills list includes important life skills to learn in school and at home.
Even if schools and universities don’t include these life skills activities as part of a life skills curriculum, parents and kids can use this life skills checklist as a guide to learn important life skills lessons.
10 Important Life Skills That Should Be Taught In School
Teaching life skills to kids is important to help them function as an adult. Wondering what basic life skills you need to function as an adult? This list of important life skills includes the practical life skills and functional life skills you need for adulting today.
1. Being a life-long learner
Many experienced professionals admit to having thought they knew lots of things coming out fresh from university, only to reflect years later and conclude that they actually knew practically nothing about anything.
Learning is unending. There’s lots of knowledge you only gain through time and experience. You’ve got to, at all times, be open to learning so you can continuously develop your personal self and your professional expertise.
Allow yourself to be like a sponge. Don’t exit the University feeling all-knowing just because you’ve always had straight ‘A’s and graduated at the top of your class, doesn’t mean everything will keep falling into place without any further effort to better yourself.
There are many people who realise, halfway through their careers, that they would much rather be doing something else. If you’re a young girl or woman in India, you can access free career counselling online to learn about more suitable careers and learn new skills online.
There are many life skills you can teach yourself, such as cooking a healthy meal or doing the laundry, even if it’s from watching free YouTube videos. With the information revolution and the internet, there’s really no excuse to not learn what you need to know.
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2. How to develop grit & resilience
Back in 2013, Angela Lee Duckworth, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania conducted her research on non-cognitive traits which contributes to a person’s rate of success.
According to her TED talk summary, she believes that ‘grit’ or passion and perseverance toward a long-term goal, among other things, are great predictors of success. Schools might need to consider adding some character development exercises within courses to help students become more goal-oriented.
They could also start teaching life skills such as how to use feedback as means to improve and develop, as well as mental health tips to deal with failure and disappointments in a healthy way.
- How to always be happy no matter what
- How to find your passion and live a life with purpose
- Effective stress-management tips to reduce stress
- How mindfulness meditation can heal your body and mind
- The 9 life skills every woman needs to be happy
- How to let go of someone you love
- How to deal with grief and loss
3. How to promote yourself
Overall confidence is not something that can be taught like algebra, but it can be developed and hacked for certain situations, such as when applying for jobs or pitching an idea to a panel.
However, the art of selling yourself is not something that is often taught at university. This is why freelancers and aspiring entrepreneurs – especially those who are younger and less experienced – often find themselves feeling awkward about putting a dollar value on their talents and services.
Even titled professionals in several fields feel the same when negotiating rates with a company or as consultants.
4. Effective communication skills
Poor communication skills in the workplace can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings, whereas clear communication and interpersonal skills can help you advance in your career.
No matter which industry you are in, good oral and written communication is a major key to being effective and successful. Many talented professionals don’t ascend the ladder simply because they are awful communicators.
These free online courses with certificates will help you learn perfectly spoken English and important communication skills while studying online for free.
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5. Professional & social etiquette
You may not necessarily be a bad person, but people may assume that you’re a big a-hole, for lacking basic business etiquette and displaying unprofessional behaviour.
These could be seemingly inconsequential things, like not thanking someone for their time after a correspondence, not knowing the right clothes to wear for an occasion, or simply not knowing how to write an email with the appropriate tone.
A lot of men get into trouble today because they don’t know how to respect women in the workplace and in social situations. It’s essential to teach both, boys and girls, social etiquette skills for maintaining and respecting personal space, practising good personal hygiene, and demonstrating good table manners.
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- How to spot abusive behaviour signs in relationships
6. Time management skills
Time itself cannot be managed since we all get seven days a week and 168 hours in those seven days. This cannot be increased or changed in any way. However, what we can change, improve and manage is ourselves.
Time management is actually becoming management of ourselves or “self-management.” We now know that it’s not the amount of time we have that’s important; it’s how effectively we use that time that makes the difference.
Successful people have exactly the same amount of time in the day as each of us. The only difference is they use their time differently – more effectively. Time management principles and techniques are usually quite simple to learn.
How you make the most out of your time is vital. At any workplace, you are always working around a limited time frame. In business, the amount of profit gained is highly dependent on how efficiently a task is accomplished.
Having the ability to analyze, rank, and prioritize your list of everything that requires your time and energy can be very handy in creating more and greater opportunities.
7. Leadership skills & teamwork
At work, goals and responsibilities aren’t meant to be handled solo and delegating tasks as well as team play are necessities. It facilitates the flow of work, making it quicker to accomplish and more effective overall, even if it isn’t currently within your personal skill set.
Attempting to do the work all by themselves is a very common mistake among many young professionals. The reason teamwork can be challenging is that you constantly have to deal with people with views, methods, ideas that may be different from yours.
It means you need to invest in building positive relationships that will allow each member to benefit from common goals. It also means having to understand that each one of you has a responsibility to others and that each of your actions will affect others, too.
Leading a team of people is even trickier. Managing people and dealing with people, in general, is a tough thing to balance, because as much as you would want to be liked by your teammates, you also want to be an effective leader, and avoid hiring people who are inefficient and incapable of pulling their own weight.
Though team play is incorporated in most schoolwork activities, and lots of school activities allow opportunities for one to lead, working together with others isn’t something that comes naturally for most people, and teamwork techniques are often not formally covered in one’s curriculum.
8. Networking skills
Forging connections with people and building relationships create value and is another key ingredient to your professional success. Although it’s easy to meet people, especially with all the social tools we have online, the University is a great venue to start.
Being an essential part of a network requires you to be equally valuable to others. Your personality and your character come into greater play than just your technical skills and knowledge, so you have to be genuine with people.
Be interested in their lives and be open with yours as well, and soon you will realize that the true benefits of having a great network of people expand beyond just work and business.
9. Money management skills
Even before you have any significant amount for investment, becoming financially literate can help you develop better business savvy and teach you proper strategies for managing your income.
Learning good spending habits and making smart investments are all part of good money management. This will give you security and peace of mind, help you avoid unnecessary expenses or losses, and ensure your time is used wisely.
Good money management also affects your personal development, as learning early on how to better utilize your money and resources will help you build financial independence and create a secure future for yourself.
Many financial experts agree that the biggest mistake parents can make with teaching their kids money management is not to allow their children to have control over their money early on.
Of course, parents should be prepared for mistakes and some growing pains when they first begin to teach their children the concepts of how to manage money.
But it is far better to allow your children to learn from mistakes involving small amounts of money than later in life when the same mistakes can prove financially disastrous.
10. Basic survival skills
Modern living has made us dependent on everything from electricity to running water and the internet. But what if something goes wrong with any of these systems?
Basic survival skills and emergency preparedness skills are essential for learning how to access life-saving items like food, shelter, and water in an emergency.
Unfortunately, most of us are just left to learn these things on our own or are assumed to have learned them somewhere. If you participate in adventure activities such as hiking and trekking, you may already have learned some of these skills.
The truth is, it would help if you actually do get some formal exposure to practical survival skills: urban emergencies such as dealing with a broken-down car, reporting an emergency, doing first aid or CPR, or listing and collecting supplies for various scenarios.
One way to learn survival skills is to become a volunteer and help out during emergency situations. Another way is by joining a youth volunteer training program that teaches basic survival skills or watching survival training videos on YouTube.
Hopefully, as life skills curriculums and ways of learning develop, we will see more concrete ways to incorporate this life skills list of basic life skills, life skills lessons, and life skills activities in school and university programs in the future.
Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.