The following article was published
in the Residential Group Quarterly, Volume 2, No. 1, Spring 2000, a
newsletter published four times a year by the Child Welfare League of
Life Skills for the Millennium
Participation in modern
society and in the labor market is strongly linked to the capacity to
accumulate knowledge and to develop a broad range of skills. Being reared in
a nurturing environment and receiving a basic education equips most people
with this knowledge, but many at-risk youths find it difficult to adapt and
find themselves being excluded. Life skills training has long been a
fundamental part of treating such youth.
Florida-based Phillip Roy, Inc. has published a Life Skills curriculum
written for young adults (14-21 years of age) who are in need of independent
living skills. This Life Skills curriculum addresses the contemporary
problems of adjusting to a society that has structures and rules that need
to be understood and followed.
The curriculum has been adopted statewide in West Virginia and Iowa, in
Oklahoma juvenile residential facilities and Florida correctional
institutions, as well as in numerous agencies, schools, urban leagues, and
other facilities around the country.
The curriculum includes units in social skills, consumer skills, and
employability skills, along with a unit for students with special needs and
one for student issues.
We know that many students lack knowledge in certain areas. Many times
the students are unaware of what they do not know or will not admit to what
they do not know. We also know that in many programs, there are limited
resources with respect to time and money. Teachers may be assigned to
classes with little notice. Similarly, students may come and go from classes
without notice. Therefore teachers should have support material such as
lesson plans, pre/post tests, curriculum frameworks, certificates of
achievement, record-keeping books, and suggested teaching strategies.
Students come to life skills classes with unique backgrounds and life
experiences. Many of your students may have failed, or have had unsuccessful
experiences in other education or training programs. Some of the students
may never truly have had an opportunity to learn before. For many of your
students, this is their last chance to attend classes, because if they do
not succeed in your class, they are not coming back. Their presence in a
life skills class indicates that they want the tools to learn how to
function in today's world. They may be in your class for an hour, a week, or
longer, but you need to provide them with something they can use when they
leave the class. We have built into our materials methods from educators and
teachers throughout the country, which help adult students learn.