Life Skills: Teens Learning to Navigate the Real World

Each day, Georgetown ISD strives to set students up for success through its Career Technical Education (CTE) program – students like Peyton Krzywonski, who was the No. 2 teen chef in America last year, or the automotive students who built an electric car and were invited to tour the Tesla facility in Austin. Or the accounting students who are partnering with local nonprofits to provide tax preparation assistance.

Equipping these future industry leaders is the goal of the CTE program, which is composed of 10 career clusters that provide students with the opportunity to learn important college and career readiness skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, organizational skills, decision making, and professionalism. Furthermore, students can choose to sit for certification exams, offered in select fields, that equip them with the necessary credentials to kickstart their professional careers as soon as they graduate.

Another focus is character building, and the district’s 120 coaches believe athletics is the perfect place for the character development program they’ve implemented called 2Words. Each 10-minute video lesson highlights just two words, such as “Take Five,” a reminder about why a mental break is just as important during a game as during an argument, and “Try Again,” which focuses on learning from mistakes and being persistent. 

TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS:  Leave it to Georgetown ISD to teach students life skills under the guise of fun. Even parents can glean valuable insights from the experts on how to equip their teens with the essential life skills required to thrive in the real world. 

Financial Competence  

When retired bank executive Marjorie L. Anderson decided to write a book as a legacy for her grandchildren, she never imagined so many parents and grandparents would encourage her to publish it. After interviewing 100 middle and high school students, she was motivated to provide a simple, basic understanding of money management. 

Her book, The Key: Wise Money Choices for Teens, available in English and Spanish, is divided into five different chapters/lessons and includes a glossary of financial terms and a list of resources.

  • What is finance
  • Money management
  • Personal responsibility/philanthropy
  • Saving and investing
  • Credit/debit cards

By presenting strategies for saving and earning money, advocating against compulsive spending, and offering a beginner’s guide to navigating the stock market, her book not only piqued the interests of teens, but also earned the coveted title of “2019-2020 Best of the Best” in the Children’s Nonfiction category at Austin’s Reader Views Literary Choice Awards.

Domestic Skills  

Infusing music into family food preparation, or turning sewing and cleaning lessons into fun-filled events, is another strategy that can help elevate mundane chores to entertaining family activities. Encouraging your teen to cook a meal as a gift can be a great motivator, and imparting essential laundry skills can also prove beneficial – some sports teams even rotate jersey cleaning duties among their members. 

Social Skills/Manners  

Practicing good manners goes beyond saying “please” and “thank you.” Learning important social graces—making eye contact, shaking hands when greeting someone, coughing into an elbow, and refraining from texting when in a social setting—can start at home. Consider having your teen dress up and accompany you to social events or make an appointment for a local college tour and encourage your student to see the student tour guides as role models. 

Organizational Skills/Time Management 

Let your teen know where you stand on being the backup for last minute projects. Encourage each to use his or her time well by providing some ideas—using a white board, scheduling due date phone reminders, creating a to-do list, or using a task app. Set an example by demonstrating how you plan for your upcoming week. 

Goal Setting 

If your teen shows an affinity for a certain career, act on it! Request college brochures and have them mailed to your teen. Also, when convenient, make an appointment to meet with a local business owner. A formal setting will make a teen feel important and excited about future prospects. It is also important to set a meeting for the parent and student to meet with a counselor together to discuss how to proceed and create realistic objectives. 

Driving/Auto Maintenance  

Create a comprehensive driving contract for your teen, emphasizing the significance of safe driving practices and their monetary responsibility for any traffic violations. Additionally, consider taking your teen along for car servicing sessions to learn the basics of automotive maintenance. 

FROM A PARENT:  Among the practical and sentimental gifts for a graduate, consider a gift-wrapped tube of toothpaste accompanied by the following note, “Decision making is like a tube of toothpaste. Once it’s squeezed out, there is no way it’s going back into the tube!” Hopefully your graduate will remember your sage advice and smile each time he or she prepares to brush.

Click here for more information about Georgetown ISD or “The Key”