The Undeniable Value of Life Skills — and Why They Aren’t Widely Taught in the Classroom

81% of recent college graduates wish they were taught more life skills before graduation, according to one survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Experian Boost™. With many feeling left behind when it comes to skills such as budgeting and long-term financial planning, there’s no question that even basic personal finance skills can come in handy in the ‘real world.’ However, in addition to personal finance, other core life skills, such as learning how to cook healthy meals at home can also go a long way. From the many benefits involved to understanding why such skills aren’t ubiquitous in classrooms today, here’s what you should know — and how parents can help.

The benefits of basic life skills

For those who may feel left behind when it comes to life skills such as personal finance or cooking, understanding the value of learning such skills is imperative in getting on the right track. Forbes points out the value of personal finance skills, citing that despite only 17 states requiring schools to take a personal finance class, the value of the skill is undeniable, especially when considering that a lack of financial knowledge has consequences (for instance, 38% of U.S. households have credit card debt). Personal finance skills can also result in promoting good saving habits, while budgeting teaches awareness and responsibility, Forbes further highlights.

Possessing other life skills, such as the ability to cook a healthy meal at home, can bring further benefits. To underline this, one article from Big Think cites a systematic review of 28 research studies, which discovered that adults who cooked at home actually had more energy, consumed less sodium, ate more fruits and vegetables, and consumed more fiber. While this can aid in promoting a healthy lifestyle, there are mental health benefits to consider, too. The same Big Think article goes on to mention another example, where study participants who engaged in baking sessions developed better self-esteem as a result of their improved concentration, coordination and confidence, according to a systematic review.

The lack of life skill courses

Programs and courses that focus on teaching valuable life skills can be a great way to get a grasp on the basic fundamentals early on, though these aren’t as widespread as many would like. When seeking an explanation as to why courses such as home economics or personal finance are missing from the education of so many, there are several factors at play. An article at, for instance, notes that a lack of time, funding, resources, and teacher training are just a few key reasons as to why this may be, though it also highlights a lack of support for such classes as well. “Many children don’t take subjects like home economics seriously because they’re too busy trying to get ahead in other subjects they think are more important, like science and math. And even if they were interested in learning how to cook, sew, or write a check, teachers aren’t experts at teaching all those skills… but their parents are!” states the article, going on to say that life skills are generally “seen as something parents should teach their children.” 

Paving the way from the very beginning

With a lack of life skill courses and programs in classrooms, implementing the basics into a child’s routine can still be done right from home, and can set the foundation for healthy habits that will follow them for years to come. For parents who wish to instill valuable life skills into their children, doing so early on can be achieved in various ways, such as getting the family involved in the kitchen on a regular basis. For example, while shopping together for ingredients can present the perfect opportunity to teach valuable finance skills like budgeting, actually cooking a healthy meal together can be a great way to bond while learning new recipes. With that in mind, having the right tools on hand is a great place to start, and will help little ones feel more included in the cooking process. For instance, smaller oven mitts, kid-friendly knives, and smaller tools such as whisks and rolling pins will not only boost your child’s confidence in the kitchen, but will aid in cultivating a safe and inclusive kitchen environment, too.

Life skills — such as personal finance and cooking — are undoubtedly valuable and bring a number of benefits to the table. However, due to various factors — such as a lack of funding, life skill courses simply aren’t as widespread as many would like them to be. Thankfully, such skills can be taught from an early age right at home in various ways and can start by simply cooking a healthy meal together.


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