Top 12+ Life Skills For Students | Updated in 2024

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Astrid Tran 22 April, 2024 9 min read

Life skills are needed for every child to grow up healthily and assist them to succeed later in life. These life skills equip children with the strong mindset to navigate various aspects of life and become responsible, independent, and capable individuals.

So, What are the most important life skills for students to learn? The list of life skills are broadened and diverse, but there is not enough time to learn all of them at once. However, teachers and parents can spend time observing each child strengths and weaknesses and personalizing suitable life skill courses for each of them can be an effective approach. 

In this article, we list down the top 14 essential life skills for students of all ages, including life skills for disabled students, which can be developed through intentional and daily activities.

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Life skills for students #1 - Financial management

Financial literacy skills are crucial life skills for students as they navigate their way into adulthood. By gaining a solid understanding of personal finance, students can make informed decisions about money and build a strong foundation for their financial well-being. 

Functional math skills especially mean a lot to students with intellectual disabilities. With these independent living skills, they will be capable of understanding and managing money, measuring, and engaging in practical problem-solving related to everyday situations.

Related: Online Quiz for Students: Here’s How to Create Yours for Free in 2022

Life skills for students #2 - Self-determination

Other critical life skills for students are Self-determination as they embark on their journey towards independence and personal growth. These skills empower students to take ownership of their lives, set goals, and make decisions that align with their values and aspirations.

It also involves self-reflection activities, which encourage students to reflect on their experiences, strengths, and areas for growth, enhances their self-awareness and fosters continuous personal development.

In addition, learning about self-determination can give them a better understanding of self-advocacy. They won't be afraid of speaking up for their needs, rights, and opinions equips them with the confidence and skills to advocate for themselves in various contexts.

Life skills for students #3 - Resolving conflicts

Life skills for students like conflicts-resolving skills are also significant. By teaching negotiation, active listening, and empathy, we equip them with effective strategies to address conflicts.

These skills not only reduce stress but also foster understanding and promote mental well-being. Students learn to communicate their needs, empathize with others, and work towards mutually beneficial solutions, creating a harmonious and inclusive environment.

daily living skills special education
Collaboration, negotiation, resolving conflict are some real world skills for students to practice in classroom | Shutterstock

Life skills for students #4 - Self-Disciplines

Self-disciplines always come on top of basic self management skills for elementary students that need to be equipped with. It involves developing the ability to control one's actions, thoughts, and emotions in pursuit of long-term goals. 

By practicing self-discipline, students cultivate habits of focus, perseverance, and responsibility. They learn to prioritize tasks, manage their time effectively, and resist distractions or temptations that may hinder their progress. 

Self-discipline enables students to stay committed to their studies, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and make choices that align with their values and aspirations, ultimately leading to personal growth and achievement.

Life skills for students #5 - Being grateful

It will be a huge mistake if teachers and parents don't put "learn being grateful" into the top life skills for students. Gratitude cultivates a positive mindset, fosters resilience, and enhances overall well-being. By teaching students to appreciate the good in their lives and express gratitude towards others, we nurture a sense of contentment, empathy, and humility. 

For practicing, students can write letters of gratitude to someone who has made a positive impact on their lives. It could be a teacher, parent, friend, or mentor.

Life skills for students #6 - Emotional Intelligence

If students want to be great leaders in the future, it is vital to train them with life skills like Emotional intelligence. It refers to the understanding and handling of their own emotions, along with self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication. By developing these skills, students can understand and manage their emotions, navigate social interactions, and build strong relationships. 

Emotional intelligence enables leaders to inspire and motivate others, resolve conflicts, and make thoughtful decisions based on both logic and empathy. By prioritizing the development of emotional intelligence, students gain the tools to become effective and compassionate leaders who can positively influence and inspire those around them.

Related: 2023 – Ultimate Guide to Develop Emotional Intelligence in Leadership Position

life skills to teach middle schoolers
(Spencer Ann Bowden, a fourth-grade teacher at Hurley Elementary School) She goes extra miles to teach life skills for students | Rebecca Rider/Salisbury Post

Life skills for students #7 - Time management

Life skills for special needs: Teaching students to manage their time effectively. It is all about teaching them how to prioritize tasks, set goals, and meet deadlines. Time management is the best way to foster organization and productivity. 

The easiest way to improve these life skills for students is asking them to create a schedule or to-do list. They can learn to organize tasks and allocate specific time slots for each activity. With consistent practice, time management becomes a natural habit, leading to increased productivity and reduced stress levels.

Related: Defining Time Management | The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

Life skills for students #8 - Critical Thinking

It is worth noting that students should learn critical thinking as soon as possible. It is not only to study skills for academic life but also applied in daily routines. Developing strong critical thinking helps students analyze information, evaluate arguments, and make informed decisions. It promotes logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities.

Students can practice critical thinking by critically analyzing a news article. They can evaluate the credibility of the source, identify any biases or logical fallacies in the arguments presented, and assess the evidence provided to support the claims

life skills for special education students
Critical thinking is important academic life skills for students to nurture a strong mindset | Shutterstock


Life skills for students #9 - Learn how to say NO

Not many of us can say NO when someone asks you for a favor without feeling guilty, especially in a working environment. Learning how to say "no" is practical life skills for students to develop. It teaches them how to set boundaries, prioritize their own needs, and make confident decisions. 

Saying "no" respectfully and assertively allows children to communicate their limits while still maintaining positive relationships. They can practice by role-playing different scenarios and learning to express their reasons and alternatives when declining a request. By mastering this skill, children gain self-confidence, assertiveness, and the ability to manage their time and commitments effectively.

Life skills for students #10 - Deal with failure

An ancient Chinese proverb says 'failure is the mother of success', many kids are reluctant to recognize this word. Kids should learn to deal with failure as soon as possible because it is a fundamental life skill that prepares them for the inevitable ups and downs of life.

In addition, they will understand that achieving goals takes time, effort, and sometimes multiple attempts. It prevents them from being discouraged by initial failures and helps them set achievable goals.

Life skills for students #11 - Collaboration

Collaborative skills involve working effectively in teams, respecting diverse perspectives, and contributing to group goals. This skill is valuable for both academic and professional settings.

One excellent way to teach collaboration is teamwork activities. It can be a competition between teams. Students are divided into teams and participate in challenges or competitions that require them to collaborate, communicate, and strategize together

Life skills for students #12 - Social Skills

Social skills play a crucial role in daily interactions of any child. In particular, when teaching life skills for students with autism, you can consider starting with Social skills as it can significantly enhance their quality of life. 

Teaching social skills can involve role-playing, social stories, modeling, and providing opportunities for practice and feedback. It supports students' social and emotional well-being, enhances their communication abilities, and promotes positive social interactions in various contexts.

Related: 10 Ways for Teaching Soft Skills to Students: Life After School

How to make life skills courses more interesting and engaging for students?

teaching life skills to elementary students
Teaching life skills to elementary students need more creative and innovative | Shutterstock

For years, life skills courses remain of no interest to students as it seems disconnected from their immediate needs and interests. To address this challenge and make life skills programs for schools more interesting and engaging, consider the following strategies:

  • Hands-on Activities

Incorporate interactive and hands-on activities in schools teaching life skills that allow students to practice and apply the skills they are learning. This could include role-playing, simulations, group projects, and problem-solving tasks.

  • Collaborative Learning

Foster collaboration and teamwork among students. Design activities and projects that require them to work together, share ideas, and learn from one another. Encourage peer-to-peer interactions and provide opportunities

  • Gamification

Gamify the learning experience by incorporating elements of games, such as, point systems, challenges, and rewards. This can increase motivation, engagement, and a sense of achievement.

  • Field Trips and Guest Speakers

Organize field trips to relevant community settings or invite guest speakers who can share their experiences related to the life skills being taught. This adds a practical and real-world dimension to the learning process.

  • Reflection and Self-evaluation

Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning and apply the skills in practical ways. Encourage them to journal, set goals, and reflect on their progress. Celebrate successes and acknowledge the growth they have achieved.

  • Make it Interactive

Foster student participation and engagement by incorporating interactive elements into the lessons. Use clicker-response systems, online polls, interactive quizzes, or small-group discussions to encourage active involvement.

online life skills for students
Make a debate to give students room to develop life skills

Related: 13 Amazing Online Debate Games for Students of All Ages (+30 Topics)

Key Takeaways

It is never too early or too late to bring more life skills lessons to students. But making students engaged and excited the whole time is a daunting task. In the effort of making excellent life skills courses for all kinds of students, bear in mind that interaction is the key of classroom engagement. 

AhaSlides is designed to promote collaboration and interaction between participants and the instructors. With appealing templates, online polls, live quizzes, and real-time feedback, AhaSlides Template Library is pretty suitable for small to large group discussions that your students are definitely fond of.

Ref: Forbes