10 Important Life Skills for High School Students
As homeschool parents, we have the benefit of living life day in and day out with our kids. This gives us an advantage when it comes to teaching many of the necessary life skills our children will need to know before they leave our home. However, each of us will be faced with a child (or two) who gets to high school without knowing something that we could have sworn we taught them. Or, maybe we meant to get around to it but just didn’t, or we never fully learned it ourselves.
Here are a few important life skills to teach high school students. These are skills that adults say they wish they had learned as kids, and as parents, we have the ability to equip them well as they launch into the world.
Manage Money and Create a Personal Budget
This is honestly the most important life skill since money plays such a vital role in our everyday lives. God calls us to be good stewards of the money we have been entrusted with, and learning to do so with wisdom will create a solid financial foundation for teens.
Earning money is only part of the battle. Once you have it, you need to learn how to use it wisely. That includes being able to create a personal budget. This should include three main areas–expenses, savings, and giving. Expenses include anything needed for daily life–rent, utilities, insurance, phone, internet, etc. Savings line items should be added for an emergency fund as well as future goals or investments. Giving should also be part of a budget to set aside money for tithes or charitable donations. A personal budget is a blueprint to follow that will help you tell your money where to go instead of wondering at the end of each month where it all went.
Another important thing for high school students to learn is that they will be inundated with offers to sign up for credit cards. Creditors can prey on the naivety of the young, so teaching students to understand both loan and credit card terminology will help them make wiser, more informed decisions.
Without solid money management skills, many young (and not-so-young) adults end up struggling to make ends meet. In today’s world, our teenagers need to be prepared to make wise financial decisions early on. Learning this important life skill while they are still at home can enable them to reach their financial goals and may prevent financial hardship in the future.
Many people (children and adults alike) struggle with using their time wisely. As with finances, without a plan in place and intentional effort, we can all easily waste time. Learning at a young age to self-govern your time, prioritize, create systems, and complete tasks can make a huge difference.
Whether it is getting ready for soccer practice, finishing a school assignment, preparing for college, or learning skills to enter the workforce, our high schoolers need to learn how to manage their time for short-term and long-term gains.
What happens if they don’t learn this important skill? Well, most high school and college students I have come in contact with are over-scheduled and under a lot of stress, which can take a huge toll on one’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Teaching our homeschoolers how to edit activities, create time blocks, reach out for help, set daily goals, and prioritize times of rest will help students reclaim their schedule and find a healthy balance.
We live in an innovation-driven world that highly values the ability to think outside the box. Critical thinking improves a student’s ability to analyze and comprehend complex problems, helping them to find creative solutions. Learning how to think critically can be done in many different ways. Some of these include reading books by intelligent critical thinkers, facing challenging problems to solve, researching a political or social issue to more fully understand it, and many more.
Learning how to work with others as a team is a vital skill that every student should acquire. Many homeschool co-ops or club organizations at the school-age level utilize project-based activities.
As our homeschooled students move on to college, there will be an increasing and continuous need for collaborating with peers on projects and in their workplace. There are many different soft skills that fall under the importance of the life skill collaboration. These can include:
- Being a good listener
- Asking good questions
- Communicating effectively
- Healthy conflict resolution
- Identifying strengths in oneself and in others
- Public speaking
As homeschool parents, we often complain about how hard it is to keep our households running smoothly. The sink fills up with dirty dishes. The pile of laundry grows bigger each day. Planning and cooking meals feel like a full-time job. Teaching our homeschoolers how to contribute in a meaningful and helpful way will ensure that they learn how to do those things as adults – and do them in a way that makes their homes run more efficiently.
Teaching household management skills to our high schoolers can include a variety of different “chores” or tasks, including meal planning, comparing prices when shopping, cleaning, home repair maintenance, creating a household budget, making appointments, and so much more. Many of these tasks may be things we do without thinking, but intentionally teaching our sons and daughters how to manage a household will help them as they establish households of their own in the future.
Many adults don’t learn anything about maintaining cars until something goes wrong. Learning about car maintenance—like when to get oil changes and tune-ups—should be something we teach our high schoolers as soon as they are ready to start studying for their driver’s licenses. You can also teach your homeschoolers how to fill the gas tank as early as elementary school! Knowing how to jump a dead battery, check tire pressure (and then add air if needed), check your oil levels, refill washer fluid, etc., are all important life skills for teens that will help them immensely when they are on their own.
Effective Communication Skills
Effective communication skills bolster trust, reduce misunderstandings, resolve conflicts, and accomplish things. In a digitally connected world, with all of our virtual messages, our youth have a different experience from the in-person interactions many of us grew up with. For example, a few online communication life skills for teens you may want to consider are:
- Proper phone and email etiquette
- Text tone language
- When to text a co-worker/employer/professor, etc.
- How to use online communication apps, including Google Classroom, Zoom, or other video conferencing tools
Additional communication skills that are very important to future employers and college professors include a firm handshake, speaking clearly and patiently, and making eye contact. Many employers state that soft skills are more important than a person’s achievements or academic background.
Decision-making is something many adults struggle with. Teaching our kids how to weigh the pros and cons of a decision and make a wise choice from a young age will set them on a path with the ability to navigate life’s forks in the road. Start with letting your teen make decisions about what they will study in high school, letting them choose their electives, giving them a say in how they plan their school day, and showing them the impact their decisions make on themselves and others.
Whether it is deciding which courses to take, choosing an extracurricular activity, or picking a college major, there are many decisions made in the teen years that will have a lasting impact on his or her future. The ability to think clearly and make sound decisions will help them in every stage of their life.
Finding a Job
From creating a resume to learning interviewing skills, learning how to get a job is HUGE. After all, without a job, you likely won’t be able to pay your bills, buy a car, buy a home, or anything else in the future. The high school years are a great time to show your teens how to search for a job, as well as walk them through the important life skills that go along with job hunting, such as resume writing, submitting online applications, interview skills, and so much more.
Self-Assessment and Reflection
It’s estimated that roughly 85 percent of people worldwide have low self-esteem. Self-confidence is a huge part of your mental and emotional health. Helping your homeschoolers to develop self-confidence in a healthy way will carry them through to adulthood. One way to do this is by teaching your teen about self-assessment and reflection. Self-reflection builds perspective, allowing high schoolers to understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to grow, progress, and improve.
Knowing how to reflect on a decision can help your teen think deeply when solving a problem and assess it from both a practical and emotional perspective. This allows them to reflect on what they would do differently so that they can improve upon their work, preparing them for the future when they face similar challenges.
These are just a few life skills for teens that we should focus on in the high school years. We believe that by teaching our teens these life skills now, we are better equipping them to face the future and the world once they are out on their own.