Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders Life Skills for Kids: Teaching Preteens Key Basics for Adulthood

Life Skills for Kids: Teaching Preteens Key Basics for Adulthood

life skills for kids

Life skills for kids can help them succeed. Find out how your youth ministry can support young teens and prepare them for adulthood.

From wardrobe coordination to time management, few junior highers know the day-to-day skills that will help them succeed. Two-income families, single-parent families, and blended families all deal with busy schedules. As a result, very few middle schoolers learn basic life skills at home anymore.

Eric comes to our junior high meetings in the strangest combination of clothes. Mari has makeup gobbed on her face. And tall, lanky Kevin slumps all over his girlfriend at dances. After 10 years of watching junior high kids, I finally got the point. Every young teenager struggles through an awkward phase of “life-skill ignorance.”

As I watched kids navigate fashion, makeup, and peer relationships, I wondered how the church could help. After all, God is interested in helping Christian teens become “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:4).

Why Life Skills for Kids Matter

When we started a life-skills program at our church, we chose three goals:

1. To help kids form their identities.

Where parents and extended families once helped kids learn basic skills such as personal hygiene, now there’s silence. All families are incredibly busy, and teaching life skills to junior highers takes a backseat.

2. To provide positive role models.

Many exceptional adults and older teens are good role models for preteens. One life-skill volunteer encountered a group of guys who insisted that cheating in school was okay because they were all getting football scholarships. The volunteer called four team members who had scholarships and asked them to meet with her life-skills class. The kids were thrilled to meet the athletes. And they heard from role models who insisted that cheating is a sure way to lose.

3. To provide fellowship time.

Last but not least, life-skills classes should be fun, hands-on learning experiences. A shaving class for boys can include shaving cream, razors, and a huge mess! Clothing classes can help preteens coordinate their wardrobes. One volunteer brought in a dozen outfits from his closet for the kids to try on and coordinate. Having a good time with friends is a life skill we teach in all our classes.

Teaching Life Skills for Kids: How It Works

Small groups are especially important in life-skills classes so everyone has a chance to participate in each activity. Small groups permit trust and intimacy, which are essential for quality growth and sharing.

At the church where Laura Olbert and I originated a life-skills program, each group has 15 kids. Guys meet separately from the girls so leaders can address specific identity issues.