Life Skills

The curriculum of Hope for Tomorrow focuses on life skills. Life skills are skills associated with managing and living a better quality of life, helping us to accomplish our ambitions, deal effectively with demands and changes, and realize our full potential.

Why are life skills important?

We live in a social environment where the ability to interact, cope with change and stress, learn, communicate, problem solve, manage time and build confidence are the basis for getting along with others, reaching our goals and living a happy and healthy life. They are foundational skills that help us weather life’s ups and downs and achieve more in our lives. Having life skills prepares teens to live independently and make wise choices in adulthood.

What are some of the most useful skills for teens?

A Murray Middle School student learning how to manage her various responsibilities.

According to Denise Witmer—who has worked with adolescents since 1988, has worked in teen development programs, launched a Parenting Teens website, published two books, and has been featured in many magazines—some of the most useful skills for teens are:

  • The development of hygiene and healthy habits
  • The ability to set and obtain a goal
  • The ability to manage their time wisely in order to get more tasks accomplished which will help them feel good about themselves and their abilities
  • The ability to deal with stress such as finding someone to communicate to about their stress, healthy ways to relieve stress, building confidence and self-esteem and keeping a healthy perspective
  • The ability to deal with anger including anger awareness techniques such as recognizing the warning signs and emotional triggers of their anger and how to prevent situations that make them angry, in addition to anger management techniques such as exercise, relaxation techniques, and journaling as a way to express themselves 

According to Laura Kastner, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and author of several books, including Wise-Minded Parenting and, along with Jennifer Wyatt, Ph.D., The Seven Year Stretch: How Families Work Together to Grow through Adolescence:

  • A motivation for personal goals such as a willingness to try new things, persistence, work ethic and commitment
  • Planning ahead, being organized and making informed decisions
  • Value and self-care in relation to exercise, sleep, eating, health maintenance, and limitations on risk taking, substance use and media overuse
  • The ability to size up interpersonal situations; cooperation with others; communication skills; conflict resolution skills; gaining perspective; and accurate self-appraisal in groups
  • The ability to accept and cope with adversities; emotional resilience

Critical life skills to be introduced and reinforced in Hope for Tomorrow

Life skills can be listed in many different ways. Here are some of the essential skills needed to live a happy and accomplished life:

  • Lifelong Learning
  • Building and Displaying Confidence
  • Work Skills
    • Punctuality
    • Accountability
    • Getting along with co-workers
    • Appreciating the benefits of diversity
    • Contributing to team effort
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills
    • Oral and written communication
    • Building rapport and empathy
    • Effective and active listening
  • Personal Skills
    • Maintaining a healthy body and mind
    • Coping with and managing emotions
    • Stress management
    • Prioritizing and time management
  • Relationship and People Skills
    • Respecting the individuality and strengths of others
    • Being able to form, nurture and maintain friendships
    • Being a responsible citizen
    • Being a good role model
  • Leadership Skills
    • Being organized and accountable
    • Problem solving
    • Decision making
    • Goal setting and action planning

How do we reinforce these life skills in the Hope for Tomorrow program?

A variety of life skills are introduced and reinforced in all sessions. Some sessions include content more focused on specific skills. For example, Healthy Balance focuses on personal skills such as stress management strategies and maintaining a healthy body and mind. First Impressions includes work skills, such as eye contact, handshake and the importance of being punctual, as well as communication skills, such as interactive communication and active listening. The Dreams and Goals session focuses on the leadership skills of goal setting, action planning and being organized.

In addition, the mentees practice a variety of communication and interpersonal skills during each session by being required to stand when speaking to the group and by working collaboratively with each other during large and small group activities. As they learn and practice these skills at each session, they begin to build their confidence and become leaders within their school and their lives.