After finishing high school, the ‘real world’ is inviting us to make mistakes and to learn from them. Yet, certain things could do with an element of education, as big life decisions aren’t simply “it’s fine if you make a mistake.” It makes you think; “this should be taught in school”.

Although we learnt trigonometry and how to make a chocolate log, we didn’t get some of the basics in life. Yes, that is part of the journey that you go through as you grow up. But a small headstart will do wonders in confidence in dealing with certain issues.

If we can focus some of our attention on the things that matter, we can ensure that everyone can get off to a fast start in life. As well as make a mean chocolate log.

So here are the 14 key life skills that should be taught in school.

 

Rent

A row of colourful houses.
Photo by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash

Rent; pay money out and have somewhere to live.

Easy enough to grasp, but the reality is that there’s a lot more to it. These basics should be taught in school, especially as it can be relevant for some earlier than others. People can move out at 16, but have no idea how this side of the world works. Escaping a bad scenario can feel impossible without the correct knowledge.

For some, they may not know the standard cost of how much they should be paying per month in electricity and gas, or to not sign up for the wrong contracts.

These are basic skills, but without education on them, you don’t know until it hits you in the face.

 

Mortgages & Buying a House

Aside from the odd conversation your parents had about how long’s remaining on their mortgage, did you know anything about how it worked?

The technical jargon and financial requirements around mortgages take understanding, but even the very basics are not taught. How a bank is ‘lending’ you the money to buy the asset. Which you then you pay them back over a long period, with some extra on top to make up for the help.

It doesn’t need to go into deep, financial figures to help get to grips with this subject.

 

Budgeting & Bank Accounts

A pen and budget book.
Photo by NORTHFOLK on Unsplash

Budgeting is a crucial life skill.

Whether we like it or not, money makes the world go round and we need it to survive.

If you can’t budget, you’ll go over overdraft limits and rack up further bills.

Then life is going to be far from straightforward.

 

Taxes, wages & national insurance

How much will you get, what will the government take (and why?) and what is national insurance?

Not complicated stuff, but it should be taught in school through formal education, as it can provide greater confidence and understanding when the time comes.

As let’s face it, taxes are one of the only certainties in life.

 

Credit, debt & interest

A selection of credit cards.
Photo by Avery Evans on Unsplash

Good credit, bad credit, and everything between.

People can avoid credit cards through fear of debt, but used well, they’re a good way to build credit, which is essential for a mortgage.

The pros and cons should be a discussion in a sensible environment.

 

Self-care & mental health

Although a deep and wide-ranging topic, self-care and mental health are so pertinent to teenagers as they go through an influential period in their life.

 

Would it be that hard to show the benefits of mindfulness and meditation? Would discussing peer pressure, understanding your emotions and the need to talk be that hard? Schools should be encouraging these conversations early on, as waiting until people are an adult can be too late.

 

NHS & healthcare

An adult holding a newborn baby's hand.
Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash

Our NHS is the pride and joy in who we are as a country.

There should be an understanding of all levels, such as how and why it works on the model it does, in comparison to countries such as the US.

But on a smaller level, young adults speak about the nervousness of needing to book their own medical appointments, or where to go for services.

A breakdown of what’s accepted, as well the process, can prevent a lot of mishaps, as well as promoting understanding of how good our NHS is.

 

Basic cooking

We all cooked a Yule log in food tech.

But aside from that, we missed out on the basics. These skills would not only help children in their current homes but set them up well to be well fed when they move out for the first time.

 

Applying for jobs

A laptop and phone being used to apply for jobs.
Photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash

Although there are certain job areas at schools, it’s a slapstick approach. Without it being part of a curriculum, there’s no drive for children to go and take it up.

They’re younger and don’t currently realise the benefits of these professional approaches, whereas if it’s taught as part of a lesson, they’ll develop the skills over time (even if at that moment they’re not bothered, it’s still a life skill to take away).

CV’s, cover letters, applying for jobs, and interviews can form part crucial life skills.

 

Computer skills

Computer skills are becoming more and more developed as part of the curriculum, but for the generation gone, it was a developing education.

We grew up as social media did, so how to behave online was formed through experience with the platforms. Nowadays, your online identity can be as influential as how you hold yourself in person, which is important for young adults to learn.

What they post, and how they interact, can have consequences much further down the line, whilst understanding safety and privacy is vital to keep them away from the predators that unfortunately lurk.

 

Life avenues

A 'do what you love' sign.
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Career advice exists in schools and is developing, but for our generation, our avenues only ever opened once high school finished. Yet, by this point, a lot of choices (A levels, college) are already made that dictate our next steps.

Formal education is not always the best way to extract the best of each individual. Adopting a more tailored approach to understanding children’s hobbies, interests, and talents helps to ensure they can thrive at what they’re good at.

 

Staying Fit

Understanding a balanced lifestyle is the first step in implementing it.

As you get older, it can be harder to shift bad eating habits or undo years of body mistreatment.

Building knowledge and good habits early can help shift the path away from a more painful future.

 

Voting & Politics

A UK polling station.
Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

A lot of political understanding is inherited from parents or geographical location.

People need to understand the basics of what parties stand for, how the UK political system works, and then to begin to form their own opinion on what they believe is right.

Learning this from a young age will help, as they’re the ones who have to live with the choices their leaders make.

 

Spirituality

Going to a school of a particular faith means you will walk a very specific spiritual path. A path that may not be the one you align with most.

Gaining a basic understanding of spirituality will allow students to understand what works for them, and to then begin seeing the universe in a light that makes sense in their eyes.

 

These aren’t skills that should be taught in school only, as it’s a difficult balance of educating through a varied curriculum and also preparing children for real life.

But if there was to be a greater ‘life input’ from school, in tandem with specific input from parents at home, the next generation will be much better prepared to handle life than we were.

 

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