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15 Important Life Skills Every Child Should Learn Before Graduating

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Education should go beyond being a mere ritual in an individual’s life journey. While mastering mathematical concepts and deciphering variables like X and Y are crucial for academic success, they alone do not fully prepare a child for life’s diverse challenges.

Genuine education should empower individuals to navigate the demands of professional workplaces and the complexities of daily life. Practical skills like budgeting and cooking are often ignored in place of theory that don’t necessarily translate to real life. While parents should be teaching their children some of these basic skills at home, unfortunately they are short on time due to the time they spend at school (plus, the mountains of homework and extracurriculars they are expected to keep up with after).

As we navigate the complexities of adulthood, we require a broader skill set than simply knowing American history. Here are some essential life skills that children should be taught in school but often aren’t.

1. Basic Cooking Skills

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The number of people who can’t cook to save their lives is appalling. A 2023 survey shows that more than half of Americans struggle with even basic recipes. Unfortunately, many are used to take-out or ramen after moving away from their mother’s dinner tables, which is not very healthy.

If more schools offered some basic cooking skills, many adults would live more independent lives. Cooking basic meals is important for building healthy eating habits in addition to saving money.

2. How to Survive Outdoors

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If students leave school and go into the woods today without food or Google Maps, chances are very high that they won’t last very long. While chances are low these days that a child will be stranded in the wild, a few basic skills can be life saving if they get lost in the woods or stranded with a flat tire in the middle of nowhere.

Depending on where a child lives, they could benefit from learning how to make fires, detect edible plants and berries, react in an emergency, and why tucking your pants in your socks is a great outdoors idea to reduce the risk of Lyme disease from ticks.

3. Mental Tenacity

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Psychology Today shares that there has been a dramatic increase in mental health disorders amongst children since 2010, including depression, anxiety, and suicide. It is no coincidence that this rise occurred at the same time when screen time became more prevalent, leading to social comparisons, trolling, and affected sleep patterns.

Teaching mindfulness, gratitude, and building awareness for mental health would be a great addition to schools. Adding education about the risks of modern technology and how to strike a balance would also be a major helper to help kids build resilience for life’s difficulties.

4. Financial Management

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Many people struggle financially, not because they don’t make enough money but because they don’t have the financial know-how to make their money work for them. Financial literacy is key to starting life as a young adult without money stress and growing debt. A survey shared 74% of Americans felt they’d be in a better financial situation if they’d learned about finances in high school.

Lessons on budgeting, investing, saving, and living within your means would greatly benefit everyone.

5. Honesty

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The world today could do with a little more honesty, and this virtue should start in school, especially by not cheating in your exams. These days, children don’t always face consequences for their bad behaviors or cheating ways because the teacher’s aren’t allowed to call them out (due to gentle school policies).

Unforunately, children who learn they can get away with a lot can grow into adults who lie and cheat in and out of situations. Teaching some of life’s basic virtues could help make this world a better place.

6. Basic Repairs

Handcrafting concept. Toddler boy on busy face plays with hammer tool at home in workshop
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Lving in an apartment or dorm can be a wake up call for young adults, realizing they don’t know how to do basic handy work. Independent living means you don’t have to call the plumber whenever your shower head leaks.

It’s OK if you can’t build your front porch from scratch, but everyone should be able to change a light bulb, car tire, and know how unclog the toilet. Where’s a class for that?

7. Basic Cleaning of Personal Space

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What’s the point of having a degree if you keep stepping over dirty socks on the stairs, having a growing pile of dirty dishes, and sleeping in an unmade bed day in and day out?

While you can get paid help for some household chores, the ability to clean up after yourself should be ingrained right from kindergarten. Teaching children to do laundry, wash dishes, and ingraining the benefits of keeping a space tidy are beneficial.

8. Caring For The Environment

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Anytime you see trash flying out of a moving car, you wonder, “Where did this one go to school?” This planet is keeping us alive, and we’re not doing a very good job of keeping it alive.

Schools need to emphasize the importance of caring for the environment. Environmentally harmful behavior such as littering, irresponsible disposal of non-biodegradable material, and cutting down trees should be discouraged. Thankfully, this awareness has been growing in some schools.

9. Building Relationships

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Social capital is one of the most significant human resources. Building relationships takes skills and time, and school is one of the best places to develop these skills.

Having a tribe of your own will help you greatly in life, and there’s no better place to learn this than in school. Aside from making friends at school, specific lessons on nurturing relationships and being more accepting of other’s would be a great addition.

10. First Aid and Life-Saving Skills

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Knowing what to do in an emergency can save a life, and everyone should be equipped with the skills to save lives.

It’d be fantastic if basic first aid skills, such as the Heimlich maneuver, nosebleeding first aid, and epilepsy first aid, were taught in school. Often, only families with members prone to such emergencies know what to do in emergencies.

Nevertheless, something like choking can happen even to the best of us.

11. Negotiation Skills

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Life is one colossal negotiation; at any one time, you’re negotiating for something, whether you see it overtly or not. The art of convincing people isn’t just reserved for salespeople and lawyers.

The ability to express yourself and convince others (and yourself) is an invaluable skill. It should be taught in school, and not just for those students that decide to join the debate team.

12. How To Grow Crops

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Many children today think food comes from the grocery section in the supermarket. Ask them what a cabbage plant looks like, and they’ll be shocked that it is a plant.

While this may be a tad exaggerated, learning to grow something is an excellent skill. It teaches patience and helps them appreciate hard work and wait for things to mature. Plus, there are immense benefits to getting our hands in the dirt and spending time outside. Some schools now have outdoor gardens, but more should follow suit.

13. Proper Nutrition

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Are peas proteins? Are tomatoes fruits or vegetables? Do we really need to drink 8 glasses of water daily? How long can I live on a lemonade diet?

These questions may seem trivial, but knowing what proper nutrition looks like will help you take good care of yourself. A lack of basic nutrition knowledge can have long-term health affects that don’t catch up to these students until much later in life. Setting them up with healthy habits early encourages a higher quality of life for decades to come.

14. A Foreign Language

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Learning a foreign language gives you an advantage over anyone who’s not bilingual. A second or third language allows you to live in more places, interact with more people, and may even be your ticket to a dream job.

Many schools offer foreign languages, but they’re mostly optional, and not enough kids sign up.

15. Emotional Intelligence

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The ability to handle interpersonal relationships with empathy and wisdom is something we all need. Emotional intelligence is necessary, especially in leadership positions and family relationships.

Some people have better emotional intelligence than others, but it’s a skill that can and should be taught.

With all these things that would be great additions to school, it may be hard to imagine how there will be enough hours in the day. Yet, creative solutions can combine real life skills with standard subjects. For example, financial literacy would be a much better use of time in Math class than memorizing theory that students will forget by summertime.


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Countless adults sitting in a therapist’s office today are grappling with the lasting impact of words spoken by their parents during childhood. Regardless of how you perceive yourself, in your child’s eyes, you are nothing short of the most remarkable thing to happen to them since “skip intro.” This underscores the critical importance of being mindful of what you say to your children, as your words become the small but influential voice in their developing minds.

20 Strong Words Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

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Being a mom is one of the world’s most important, challenging, and rewarding jobs. It’s also one of the most difficult to define. What does it mean to be a good mother? There are as many answers to that question, but none of them have anything to do with striving for perfection or doing more.

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