What we mean when we say "life skills."

January 29, 2018

What are life skills?

Life skills are the ones that help a person be independent in life. Being able to take care of one’s self in life is pretty important. While our society is set up to provide help when it is needed, it’s part of our mission at Crossroads Center for Children to help our children become as self-reliant in life as they are capable of.  So, for our youngsters, life skills are taught and practiced as part of the day.

What skills are needed for living might differ according to time and place, but there are several that are essential and practiced daily for most persons in this time and place that we share generationally and in our corner of the world. Lots of these skills are targeted by our Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapist, and Speech Therapists. All of our classrooms, both preschool and school age, work on life skills too. There are several that are practiced every day in the school aged classrooms.

Such as self care skills:

  • Toileting self
  • Brushing teeth
  • Washing and drying face
  • Washing and drying hands
  • Dressing self
  • Dressing appropriately for weather
  • Food prep
  • Nutrition and health – especially being able to communicate feeling hurt or sick

Here some students from Room 13 engage in a daily teeth-brushing routine.


Teachers in this classroom note that some students have learned using a visual schedule while others utilize full physical prompting, prompting which will be faded as a child grasps steps of the process.

Like other skills, life skills are taught according to where the child is currently functioning. By establishing child’s “baseline”, always based on data, the student’s team can develop a plan that helps the child learn the skill according to his or her individual learning needs. So while one student may be learning to complete some of the steps of a process using a task analysis, might use personal or video modeling to learn what to do. Prompting is faded as a child achieves steps of the process. 

The goal is always established according to the individual child and what activities he or she needs to function meaningfully and independently in his or her environment.

While “A” might be working on one step of the process, “B” might have mastered that one, and is onto the next.

For example, the process of washing hands can look like this: Go to sink. Turn on water. Wet hands. Get soap. Rub hands together. Wet hands. Turn off water.

And drying hands: Get paper towel. Rub hands on towel – get fronts and backs. Rub hands again. Throw towel away.

So while “A” in the example is learning the step of turn on water, “B” might be independent in that step and learning to get soap without a prompt.

Job skills are also important for independence in life. Skills that are needed for job success include social skills and communication skills, attending and following directions. Also necessary to learn to attend to tasks to completion, and report back to a supervisor. Many of our classrooms have “classroom jobs” to provide opportunities for learning responsibilities and capabilities that are aligned with future job success. Responsibilities such as line leader, paper passer and calendar helper are great ways to address job skills in the classroom. At home, parents teach their children to set the table, empty the dryer, feed the dog, and make their bed.

In our classroom featured here in this article, so as well as our other classrooms of school-aged children, the specific jobs that kids are learning are going to help them function independently both in their homes and in jobs in the future. Along the way they learn to open the door for self and others, find their name in an array, and interact with people outside of the classroom.


Jobs are rotated so that kids learn a variety of jobs and include:


Laundry – using the washer and dryer

Folding laundry

Washing tables

Sweeping and using a dust pan

Stacking chairs

Delivering mail


 By working on life skills daily as a class, children are able to model teachers and each-other and gain positive reinforcement and correction for their performance. What life skills do you think are important? Leave us a comment! We love hearing from our readers! 

Like this topic? Read another article:



Brushing up on Self-Care Skills


Cheese Snowmen, Banana Snowmen – Healthy Food Program Hits!Learning to write your name – from scribbles to empowered with our Occupational Therapy Department