The Simple Guide to Teaching Life Skills

  • Child Development
  • The Aspen Difference
Katie Becker

Over the years we have embarked on the process of explicit teaching of concepts that are often assumed to be “absorbed” in the context of home or school. Concepts including: attitude, emotions, responsibility, listening, etc. In today’s world, we cannot assume that these skills naturally develop -- we have to teach them.

But how?



Defining a Concept

Let’s use the concept of respect as a guide. When was the last time you asked your child or your student to “Be Respectful.”? Or instead, an even greater trap, got upset with them over something we deemed disrespectful without first defining the boundaries of what is respectful or disrespectful. We make a lot of assumptions about what some concepts actually mean to our kids. The reality is, it is often different for each individual. If we’ve never had a conversation about the concept or taught the concept, it is not fair to be upset when we don’t get what we are looking for. In our leadership development program (AYLI), we are moving from teaching a deep understanding of oneself, to learning about how the self shows up in the context of a community, in the context of social situations. At the core of this, we must understand one another’s expectations in a social relationship. We have to remember that a teaching or parenting relationship is a social one. Any relationship between two or more people is a social one. Here’s an example of what this kind of a lesson or conversation can look like:

"Respect is important for you to understand: you should offer others respect and expect to be treated with respect by those around you. Showing respect is about what you do, and it’s about what you don’t do. Feeling respected is about what others do, and it’s about what they don’t do."

Questions Create Thinking

So how do you teach a concept like respect? You ask. Ask the kids. Questions like these stimulate thinking in your children: What do you do and not do to show respect? What do others do and not do that causes you to feel respected?

And then you share. You share your own answers to those same questions. We may not agree on all the answers to those questions, but we can begin to understand what it means to one another, in order to more effectively honor it for one another.

Using this simple two-part technique, you’ll be able to reinforce what your children are learning in the classroom and explore other important topics with your children.








About the Author:
Katie Becker is Director of Aspen Entrepreneurial Institute and Aspen Youth Leadership Institute at Aspen Academy.

Katie came to Aspen Academy in 2009 and has served as a Teacher, Instructional Coach, Character and Leadership Director, and Middle School Director. She began working in architecture after graduating from CU Boulder but soon found that her heart was in education. She then earned her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and went on to hold teaching positions in middle school and elementary grades.

She believes that seeing the student as the most critical aspect of education and allowing them to flourish based on who they are is what draws her so close to Aspen and its ideals. She has three children and enjoys everything that the beautiful mountains have to offer, including skiing, hiking, and biking, as well as spending time with interior design, books, and a camera.

Katie is available to speak on various topics in leadership and entrepreneurship to community groups. Click here to contact Katie about speaking.