Life Skills Courses Should be Taught in High Schools

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Life skills education often referred to as home economics, is perhaps one of the most valuable classes a high school student can take. However, more and more commonly, school budget cuts are forcing schools to do away with this course, thus allowing funds to be focused primarily on traditional core classes, such as math, science, and English classes. Arguably, life skills education class is extremely beneficial to all students in high school, as it teaches students the practical skills that are required for daily living, thus aiding in their successful transition from childhood to adulthood. Life skills education, in addition to being called home economics, has also been referred to as ‘Family and Consumer Sciences.’ This is due to the fact that these courses are designed to help students become familiar with topics of nutrition, home management, financial responsibility, and child development, which promote students to lead productive and safe lives. Despite the clear value of having courses such as these in high school, fewer and fewer students are able to experience this class, as a result of curriculums evolving and budget cuts.

One of the most important features of life skills education class is the emphasis on safety, hence making it a valuable course to be taught in high schools. High school students are able to learn about risk-avoidance and safety principles in life skills, and also learn about possible dangers that can arise from simple mistakes, such as leaving a stove unattended, leaving wounds untreated, mixing hot grease with water, household fires, and leaving young children unattended. Many students are unable to learn these important skills at home for a number of reasons, and thus these classes can effectively prevent serious injury, illness, or even death. In addition to common household safety principles, these courses also teach other life-saving skills, such as first aid and CPR.

With a life skills education course, students can also learn all about nutrition, and the medical concerns and health risks that are associated with the lack of a proper diet, exercise, and other unhealthy eating patterns that lead to obesity: an increasingly prevalent issue in America. For example, in a course that is based on ‘Foods’ or ‘Food Preparation,’ students are taught all about healthier food choices, how to prepare healthy food, food groups, smart food shopping choices and strategies, and nutrition and diet. Students often learn how to cook both nutritious and tasty meals in this course, which prepares them for a lifetime of healthy eating patterns. If a course such as this was more prominent in high schools, perhaps there would be less obesity overall in America, as students would be armed with the knowledge of how to make healthier choices.

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Besides learning how to eat properly, how to cook, and how to be safe, life skills education also teaches consumer sciences, or other basic life skills, to students. For example, students may learn how to balance a checkbook, live on a budget, pay bills, how interview well for a job, and also how to exercise personal, and fiscal responsibility. Additionally, they may cover career-related skills, such as child development, professional food service, interior design and decorating, and sports nutrition. This may also extend to lessons on personal development, interpersonal skills and behaviors, and decision-making: qualities that are advantageous both in the workplace and at home.

Life skills courses should be taught in high school, as they also help students to learn how to work in a community organization with others. Following high school, many students go off to college, where they often live in dorms or residence halls with many other students. They may share apartments, or even live in barracks with other military personnel. Life skills courses can provide students with the advantage of how to perform duties/chores, making it easier for them to share responsibilities with their roommates, such as cleaning, cooking, shopping, and organizing.

A major component of life skills courses includes basic lessons in parenting: a definite asset for high school students that will become parents sooner or later. Not all high school students will go on to parent children, but most will. Family/life skills courses provide students with the foundation for learning effective and responsible parenting skills so that they can be prepared to take care of the basic needs of a child. These classes can also help future parents learn about infant care, home safety for children, car safety, and children’s nutrition. Often, such courses form the basis for many students’ career aspirations, especially for students that will go on to pursue careers in elementary education, child care, and even youth counseling.

It is also worth noting that, in the vast majority of Japanese schools, home economics is taught starting in fifth grade and goes through to high school. In addition to the skills mentioned previously, Japanese students will also learn woodworking, embroidery, meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. They may also do more creative projects, such as building lamps, stools, bookshelves, making clothes, and sewing wallets. Also worth noting is the fact that Japanese students consistently score well and high in their international assessments. However, American students learning these skills in the classroom is a rare thing to find today. In recent years, America has been showing consistently mediocre results on both international and domestic assessments. As a result of tighter budgets, education has taken a different approach and opted to focus more on the core subjects, while taking out other courses that are viewed as unnecessary. While the majority of efforts are now focused on bettering reading and math scores across the country, American students still fail to measure up to most other countries. Thus, a new approach must be developed.

International comparisons and examples, such as Japan, illustrate that diverse, yet rigorous training for students is the most beneficial. Other countries, such as South Korea and Finland, also manage to incorporate home economics into children’s teaching schedules but have also continued to excel in all the core classes (Gross-Loh, 1). Clearly, the educational system in America would benefit from such a broadened curriculum. In America, life skills courses may be mandated by a school district’s policy to occur for a few, short weeks of the entire span of a child’s education, or it may be an elective course in very few schools across the nation. For the most part, however, life skills courses have disappeared. Classes like life skills, which incorporate other skills that are not immediately academic, foster a solid foundation for students’ confidence, and the ability to improvise given real-world problems. They can also aid students to make better choices, and making connections, and also teach them how to take initiative. The results of life skills courses, consequently, go much further beyond the classroom.

In summary, life skills courses should be taught in all high schools across America, as they provide students with the necessary and practical skills to transition from childhood to adulthood. These classes may focus on basic skills in cooking, safety, fiscal responsibility, and a host of other topics. Many other countries have integrated these courses successfully into their normal curriculum, and the results have been noteworthy. Clearly, America’s education system would only benefit as a result of having life skills courses available to all students.

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