by Meadow Clark
A couple years ago, I compiled a list of 25 basic life skills that should be taught in school (but aren’t).
The readers all chimed in with some great additions to the list. Some of you had thoughtful objections. Interestingly, a lot of you called for a curriculum for each class.
I had no idea there would be a great interest in more class material for these hypothetical classes for life skills.
As I said before, it’s not the government’s job to bring up children, nor should it be. But for all the time spent in school, wouldn’t ‘it be ideal if young people left with skills that would truly enrich their lives?
I’m not the only one saying we need to train our children better in basic life skills.
A lot of young people get tossed into the world and must learn the hard way how to navigate important life skills like personal finance and career searches. They sometimes discover these painful lessons by crawling back out of debt and spending hours pouring over books. Since 2018 – when I wrote that past article – there have been calls to teach finance in high school.
Just look at these headlines that came out not long ago:
This is not to say that the financial literacy courses won’t be provided by special interests. They very well may be. But it does show people recognize there is a disconnect in education, and that families are perhaps too overworked or fractured in some cases to provide important wisdom.
It turns out that there’s a great interest in mastering these skills at any age! Myself included. I know I’d love to take these classes any time. Note: these suggestions are geared toward adults, so discretion is advised.
Here, by popular demand, is a selection of educational materials for each of the original 25 life skills: a curriculum for adults.
We can put these skills to use and pass them on to the next generations.
Editor’s Note: I know lots of you are homeschool parents. But please accept before reading this article that many kids are sent to public schools for a wide variety of reasons. Please do not turn this into an argument about homeschooling vs. public schooling or an insult festival toward parents who send their kids to school. That’s not productive. Let’s talk about what is taught vs. what is missing. And also, keep in mind that school is the only chance that some children have to learn new ideas because their parents are either disinterested or close-minded. While most of us try to teach our children these excellent skills at home, many young people are not raised in households like ours. ~ Daisy
#1 Individual Thought
- Cutting Through the Matrix website
- The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
- Order of Chaos, a fictional movie
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron
#2 Personal Finance, Saving, & Budgets
- The Index Card by Helaine Olen
- Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
- Articles and podcast by Ellen Brown
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn
- The frugality section of this blog, The Organic Prepper
#3 Health & Nutrition
- Green Smoothies for Life by JJ Smith
- Eat for Health (extremely vegetable based but extremely effective for the most stubborn weight, health issues) by Joel Fuhrman
- DDPYoga.com – not your mama’s yoga! Comes with a reasonable, easy diet plan.
- Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking
- Allen Carr’s Quit Drinking Without Willpower
- Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone: Megavitamin Therapeutics for Families and Physiciansby Abram Hoffer
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies by Phyllis A. Balch CNC
The world can be crushing enough. Perhaps resiliency and tenacity can be emphasized instead of measuring people against society’s false idea of success. Failure is inevitable, after all, so people should be shown how to get back up again when they do fall.
- Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
- Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives by Dan Milman
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fiction book by Betty Smith
- Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength, and Happiness by Rick Hanson
- No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh
#5 The Art of Conversation
The ability to carry on a conversation is truly an art form. Too many people have cast their abilities here to the wayside as the ever-present screen (whether that be from the phone, computer, tablet, or TV) has occupied their brain. For those seeking to learn how to avoid the awkward silence, may I recommend the following:
- Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age by Sherry Turkle
- The Art of Conversation and How to Apply its Technique, by Milton Wright – if you can find it
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
#6 Logic, Reasoning, and Public Discourse
Did you know that schools have been rapidly dropping Logic classes? It’s time to stop the Idiocracy from spreading and revive Logic!
- Logic Made Easy: How to Know When Language Deceives You by Deborah J. Bennett
- Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking by D.Q. McInerny
- A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston
- Thank You for Arguing, Third Edition by Jay Heinrichs
Character is who you are when nobody else is watching. For those whose introspection has caused to realize there is room for improvement, I suggest the following:
- The Road to Character by David Brooks
- Character Disturbance: The Phenomenon of Our Age by George K. Simon PhD
Everybody needs to know how to negotiate. It doesn’t matter if you think you aren’t a businessman – you are. This is a necessary skill that too many have neglected to train themselves in.
- Verbal Judo, Second Edition: The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George Thompson PhD
- Articles by Liz Ryan on Forbes and LinkedIn
#9 Cooking from Scratch
Too many of today’s youth are clueless when it comes to cooking anything which isn’t pre-packaged.
- The Lost Art of Scratch Cooking
- The First Timer’s Cookbook by Shaun Bucher
- The Flat Broke Cookbook by Daisy Luther
- Make sure to check out our FREE Quickstart Guide to Canning as well.
Out of all the basic life skills covered in this list, this is the one that has truly been forgotten. Only in modern history has mankind decided he doesn’t need to know what it takes to survive the elements. We’ve become dependent on modern technology, always assuming it will be there. It won’t. For those who are seeking to improve their survivability post-disaster, may I recommend the following:
- 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive by Cody Lundin
- When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency by Matthew Stein
- When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Prepping and Crisis Survival by Matthew Stein
For kids and adults:
- The Dangerous Book for Boys,
- The American Boys Handy Book,
- The Field and Forest Handy Book: New Ideas for Out of Doors
#11 Speed Reading (But with Deep Comprehension)
The faster you can read, the faster you can learn. We live within the Information Age. One has to be able to process large amounts of information as quickly as possible, and speed reading is one of the keys to doing that.
- “Want to Read Faster? Stop Saying The Words in Your Head As You Read”
- Find your reading speed with this test offered by Staples.
- Spritz app
- How to read 300% faster in 20 minutes
#12 First Aid
You have to know some basic first aid as an adult. This will not only save you money, but can easily save your life as well.
- The Ultimate Survival Medicine Guide by Joseph Alton
- The Prepper’s Medical Handbook by Willaim Forgey
#13 Crash Course on How Government Works
Citizens need to have a basic understanding of how their government works or they’re going to be caught blindsided by policies, laws, and regulations that they would have otherwise been clueless about.
- The Everything American Government Book: From the Constitution to Present-Day Elections, All You Need to Understand Our Democratic System (Everything®)
There are so many aspects of life where creativity allows one to prosper. As such, the well-rounded American would benefit from reading up on what it takes to be creative.
- Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
- Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive Thinking by Emily K. Neuburger
#15 Household & Basic Car Mechanic Repairs
Things break. It happens. When this does occur, you can either pay $100 just for somebody to show up, or you can save yourself $300 by fixing it yourself. These books will help you with the latter option:
- Dare to Repair: A Do-it-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet
- New Fix-It-Yourself Manual: How to Repair, Clean, and Maintain Anything and Everything In and Around Your Home by Reader’s Digest
- Flylady.net keep your house clean even if you have ADHD.
#16 Time Management, Focus, and Productivity
If one cannot manage their time, they will have a next to impossible time with being successful. For those who seek to improve their ability to manage their most valuable asset, here are some sources which will prove beneficial:
- Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen and James Fallows
- Never Be Late Again by Diana Delonzor
#17 How to Read Literature With Deeper Understanding
Being well-read in the classics allows one to better understand their own culture. Oftentimes, these books can be difficult to comprehend. They’re verbose, written in archaic language, and often seem boring. Here are some books to help one understand those books:
- The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
- How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas Foster
#18 Entrepreneurship, Career, & Starting a Business in a Gig Economy
We’re all salesmen. We all have something to sell, and we all need to know the basics of running a business. Here are my recommendations in this realm:
People are rude. Don’t be one of them. Far too many people are this way not because they desire to come across as abrasive and offensive, but because they’ve never been taught what proper etiquette looks like. This was once one of the basic life skills all people within society were taught. Now, this is a region woefully neglected.
These books can help to bring some grace to your daily interactions with others:
- As a Lady Would Say Revised and Expanded: Responses to Life’s Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations by Sheryl Shade
- As a Gentleman Would Say Revised and Expanded: Responses to Life’s Important (and Sometimes Awkward) Situations by John Bridges
#20 Social Skills
Social skills are different than etiquette and manners. It involves picking up on cues and tone, and knowing how to appropriately respond in different situations. There is dating etiquette and there is also dating social skills. These are just as important as having social awareness on the job.
#21 Study & Deep Research
Do you know how to truly delve into a topic, gleaning the good and forsaking the bad? This is an important skill for many facets of life, and these books will help you in that journey of discovery:
- How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren
- The Science of Self-learning by Peter Hollins
#22 How to Selectively Make Real Friends
One of the more important basic life skills is the ability to choose good people to surround yourself with. You are the average of your friends. How do you make sure you are the best “average” possible? By choosing the best friends possible. This popular book will help you do so:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
#23 Effective Communication & Writing
Communication is key, goes the old adage, and for good reason. Proper communication is absolutely vital to marriage, relationships, business, and more. This is one of those basic life skills you never think you need to study up on until it’s too late: some form of miscommunication has led to disaster. These books will help you to become better at communicating, and limit your risk of problems caused by poor skills in this area:
#24 Resume & Cover Letters
Do you know how to get the job you want? A large part of that is by knowing how to write a good resume and cover letter. Here is my advice on the matter:
- Use templates from Word and Google docs for formatting, then learn how to write an attention-grabbing human-voiced resume that gets that foot in the door.
#25 Bonuses: Geography & Relationships
- Geography: online.seterra.com and this fun quiz website
- Relationships: The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Would you like it if schools taught some of the skills above? Which ones are your favorites? Are there other basic life skills I left out of the mix? Leave your nominations below!