Shortly after that, I got a call that our co-op needed someone to teach the high school Life Skills class. Hmmm......
Yesterday was my first class. Other than me being the smallest person in the room, I'm really excited about the class. I decided that trying to teach life skills in a lecture format, or from a book, is just pointless. So, we're going to have a project driven class. I put together a syllabus and a list of projects and their requirements. Each week in class, the students will share with each other what they learned by doing that week's project. Then we'll briefly discuss the upcoming project with the time we have left in class.
I don't think this approach would work with a begrudging group of students, but I happen to have an awesome group of young men who I feel confident will really do great with individual projects that require a lot of self-initiative.
And because I labor under the delusion that someone else might be as interested in this as me, here is the front page of my syllabus for the class.
Welcome to Life Skills. This is a single semester, project driven class. Students will be expected to work independently to conduct research and complete multi-step assignments outside of class. We will be using class time to share the results of our projects and to discuss the next project. However, the bulk of the students’ effort and learning will be taking place outside of class.
The goal for this class is to help prepare the high school student to step into the role of an adult with confidence and integrity.
Students will be receiving a letter grade for this class. Each project will receive a letter grade, all of which will be averaged together for a final semester grade. Projects will be assigned a letter grade based on the following criteria:
A—Project completed with excellence. Project meets all given requirements PLUS includes an additional student selected and student driven element.
B—Project completed with excellence. Project meets all given requirements.
C—Project completed but is substandard OR lacks one requirement.
D—Project lacks more than one requirement.
F—No project is presented.
Please note that projects will be accepted up to one week late but will be marked down one letter grade on the grading scale. If a student is unable to attend co-op that week, projects can be emailed to the instructor before class time or can be sent to co-op with a friend or other family member. (With advance written notice, exceptions will be made for extended travel time.)
A single class is insufficient to completely prepare a student in all the skill and knowledge areas needed as an adult. However, we will try to focus on some key concepts. It is my hope that the experience of researching and problem solving can be used and applied to other areas of life as needed.
Several of the assignments will have more than one project option so that students may pursue an area of unique interest to them. Some projects will require more than one week to complete, and should be started in advance. A three-ring binder to organize projects and assignment sheets is recommended. Regular Internet access is invaluable for research. Parental involvement and assistance will also be needed for some of the projects.
And here is the list of projects with their due dates and their requirements.
Christian Life (due January 30th)
- Complete a personal gift inventory. (There is a youth or an adult version on kodochrome.org or you can use another of your choosing.)
- Give an interpretation of what this inventory means for you. This can be a written essay, a power point presentation, a video file, or other format.)
- Research options for personal discipleship and present your findings.
- Keep a record of when and where you are engaged in discipleship. Make note of the strengths and weaknesses of this plan.
Time Management Log (due February 6th)
- Record how you spend your time for three consecutive days. Pick days that are fairly typical of your normal life.
- Add up the amount of time you spend in various categories (school, work, sports, activities, tv, computer, video games, hobby, etc). Create a graph or visual display of the proportion of time.
- Make a basic weekly schedule for yourself based on the activities and time breakdowns you are currently using.
- Review your time log and weekly schedule. Are there any areas which should be adjusted? What and how?
Project Completion Sheet (due February 13th)
- Pick any medium or large project that is of interest to you and is something you haven’t tried before.
- Write out the steps needed to complete your project and the approximate time you think you will need to complete each step. It’s better to estimate a little high in terms of time needed than to estimate too low.
- Look at your weekly schedule and pencil in when you will complete each step of the project.
- Work on the project, make note of time differences, difficulties, and what you did to adjust in each of these areas.
Post High-School Options (due February 20th)
- Research at least three different and specific options you might like to pursue post high school. These options should be ones which can be pursued within a few months of graduation.
- Make a list of the requirements needed for each option as well as the benefits to be gained by pursuing them.
- For each option, complete a brief financial analysis (cost to pursue the option or wages earned from the option.)
- How on track are you for meeting the requirements of any of these options?
Menu and Grocery List (due Feburary 27th)
- Create a basic 6 day meal plan for one or two people. Include balanced choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Using your meal plan, create a grocery list for all needed ingredients or components of your plan.
- At any store, or stores, of your choice, compute how much you menu would cost for a week. If you “purchase” some of your food in bulk, include both the total cost for the trip as well as the cost for just the amount you would have consumed that week.
- With this data, project how much you would be likely to spend on groceries for a two week period and for a month.
Housekeeping Schedule and Application (due March 5th)
- Option ONE—Check out FlyLady.com. Read about her concept of developing daily routines and dividing the home into cleaning zones. Either complete her detailed zone cleaning list for this week, or complete a daily mission for the zone each day of the week. Share what you learned.
- Option TWO—Take over all regularly scheduled cleaning in your home for the week (including laundry, dishes, etc). Share what you learned.
- Option THREE—Develop your own cleaning schedule for a home. How will your schedule ensure that both the regular maintenance and the less frequent deep cleaning gets accomplished? Try out your schedule for one week. Share what you learned.
- Option FOUR—Use another resource of your choosing to implement a housekeeping system. Try it for a week and share what you learned.
Computer Maintenance (due March 12th)
- Option ONE—Learn what you can about spyware, firewalls, virus protection software, and data back up. How do each of these affect the performance of a computer.
- Option TWO—With the permission or assistance of an adult, learn how to install software.
- Option THREE—With the permission or assistance of an adult, learn how to install or upgrade hardware or how to set up a computer.
- Option FOUR—Research the rates outside services charge for data recovery, virus removal, or other computer repair services.
Home DIY Project (due March 19th)
- Option ONE--Pick any home or garden repair, decorating, or building project that you would like to attempt. Use the internet or library resources for instructions and get permission before you begin. Work on and complete the project. Take before and after photos and share what you learned.
- Option TWO—Assist in any home repair or building project which requires skills or knowledge that is new to you. Share what you learned.
Community Service (due March 26th)
- Complete at least three hours of community service in a field or area which you have never worked in before.
- Explain how and why you picked the project and whether it was a good match for your skills, abilities, and interests. If it wasn’t, what would be a better match?
- How can you continue to include volunteering in your regular life?
Car Maintenance and Repair (due April 2nd)
- Option ONE—If you don’t already know how, learn how to safely jump a car or how to change a flat tire. With supervision, practice the new skill.
- Option TWO—What is the recommended maintenance schedule for changing the oil in a car? How do you check the oil level? If you haven’t done so before, find someone who will let you assist in this process. How much does it cost to do it yourself? How much does it cost to have it done somewhere?
- Option THREE—What fluids go into a car? Where do they go? How do you check their levels? When should you add more or change them? How do you check the tire pressure? With supervision, check all these items on a car and add more if needed.
- Option FOUR—Assist a friend or family member with any car repair or tune up.
Apartment Costs (due April 16th)
- Shop for a basic apartment in the area which you might like to live. How much is the rent? The utilities? The deposit? How much is it to get phone or cable connected?
- What furniture would you need to move in? How would you get these items? (Include dishes, towels, pots and pans, small appliances, etc)
- What basic cleaning supplies would you need? How much would they cost? (hint—check the dollar store for some of these)
- How much money, total, would you need to have in savings in order to move into this apartment?
Personal Budget (due April 23rd)
- Using the research from your post high school options, your apartment cost project, and your menu and grocery list project, complete a possible personal budget. How much money would you need to earn in a pay period to make such a budget work? (don’t forget items such as gas, car insurance, phone bills, entertainment, clothing, tithing, and savings)
- Is your budget achievable based on the type of jobs you might be likely to get soon after high school? If not, what adjustments could you make?
- Do you know how to balance a checkbook against a bank statement? Ask your parents to let you observe how they balance their own accounts.
- Keep a real record of your own spending and any earnings for a one month period. Is how you are handling money now consistent with how you hope to handle money in the future?
Safety (due April 30th)
- Option ONE—Research dating violence. What warning signs should you be aware of? How do you protect yourself on a date and in a relationship? (Remember, abuse isn’t always physical. Men can often find themselves in a relationship with an emotionally abusive woman.) Share what you learn.
- Option TWO—Research identity theft. What precautions can you take to protect yourself from fraud? Share what you learn.
- Option THREE—Take a self-defense class.
Relationship Reports (due May 7th)
- Select and read ONE of the following books:
- For Young Men Only, or For Young Women Only, by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhann;
- Love and Respect, by Dr. Emmerson Eggerichs;
- The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman;
- Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts, by Les and Leslie Parrott