School in a Book: Social, Emotional and Life Management Skills

You probably already have most of the skills on this list, at least to some degree. Treat this checklist, then, as a gentle reminder not to pass by the couple of things you haven’t quite nailed yet.

Note that this list does not include skills mentioned in other sections of this book or those generally possessed by people under the age of six, such as memorizing one’s address and phone number. My attempts at comprehensiveness, though well-meaning, are usually futile.

Life Management Skills

  • Managing time and tasks, including: creating short-term and long-term to-do lists; time-on-task estimating; padding time-on-task estimations; and breaking large projects into small steps
  • Keeping ongoing to-do lists and short-term goals lists, with steps to achieve those goals
  • Listing and working towards long-term life goals, dreams and plans
  • Managing money, including: budgeting, calculating interest, avoiding debt, calculating the highest affordable mortgage payment, saving for retirement, investing in the stock market, filing taxes and organizing financial records
  • Cleaning the home, including: washing laundry; washing dishes; dusting; cleaning the bathroom and more
  • Performing simple household maintenance tasks, including: changing lightbulbs; testing and changing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; cleaning the roof and gutters; mowing the lawn; maintaining a yard; fixing leaky faucets and unclogging the toilet
  • Cooking and baking, including: two soups or stews; two stir-fry sauces; muffins; cakes; roasted chicken; and grilled steak
  • Organizing one’s living space
  • Learning basic self-defense techniques
  • Maintaining a car, including changing the oil, checking tire pressure, checking fluid levels and scheduling regular tire changes and other maintenance
  • Applying basic first aid skills, including CPR
  • Caring for children
  • Using public transportation
  • Sewing
  • Writing formal letters and emails
  • Typing
  • Memorizing emergency procedures in various settings, including knowledge of using a fire extinguisher
  • Maintaining good hygiene, nutrition and exercise habits
  • Preventing disease, including STDs
  • Using responsible and healthy sexual practices
  • Visiting doctors and dentists regularly
  • Purchasing a house
  • Holding family meetings
  • Maintaining safe and secure Internet practices, including an understanding of online source verification
  • Choosing and purchasing insurance for home, health and car
  • Gardening
  • Recycling, reusing and caring for the environment
  • Using the Microsoft Office suite and other important computer programs
  • Interviewing for jobs and job shadowing
  • Knowing federal and local laws
  • Driving a car
  • Avoiding addiction and understanding the effects of drugs and alcohol
  • Registering to vote and choosing who and what to vote for
  • Doing community service work
  • Planning and budgeting for trips
  • Planning and hosting parties
  • Traveling locally and globally, if possible
  • Using basic tools, including: hammers, screwdrivers, power drills, hand-held sanders, knives, pliers, wedges and wrenches
  • Doing home improvement projects: painting, building simple furniture items, installing hardware and more
  • Building a fire
  • Using a directional compass
  • Making a water filter with sand, rocks, clay and charcoal
  • Listening to educational podcasts and audiobooks
  • Memorizing important poems and passages
  • Writing longhand letters to friends
  • Making a family tree
  • Starting a small business
  • Holding a garage sale

Interpersonal Skills

  • Making friends
  • Cultivating healthy relationships
  • Communicating effectively, including: listening actively; restating the other person’s message; and calmly resolving conflict
  • Avoiding and de-escalating conflict
  • Using good eye contact
  • Using good manners
  • Shaking hands firmly
  • Projecting vocally when appropriate
  • Saying “no” without further explanation
  • Enforcing healthy boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others
  • Asking questions
  • Talking to strangers
  • Making casual conversation/small talk
  • Crafting a convincing and logical argument
  • Speaking in public
  • Telling a joke
  • Forgiving and apologizing first
  • Accepting and learning from other cultures, family types and gender identities
  • Responding to anger or unkindness without defensiveness, but instead with simple statements of fact (such as “I don’t agree” or “That’s interesting,”) questions (such as “Why did you do that?”) or kindnesses (such as, “Are you okay?”)
  • Using simple consequences instead of physical force or emotional abuse (for example, “If you do that, I am not going to play with you right now,” or, “If you are rough with my toys, I will take them away”)

Self-Care Skills

  • Spending time alone
  • Engaging in long-term projects and hobbies
  • Labeling emotions
  • Separating fact from emotion
  • Using self-calming strategies like deep breathing
  • Doing self-guided cognitive therapy/reframing (writing down upsetting irrational thoughts and replacing them with rational ones)
  • Journaling about difficult memories and moments, then rewriting the story in a way that is healthy, helpful and self-compassionate
  • Maintaining healthy exercise and nutrition habits
  • Maintaining spiritual/grounding practices such as meditation (observing one’s own mind with nonjudgmental acceptance) and mindfulness (observing the present moment with nonjudgmental acceptance)

Personal Qualities to Develop

  • Love
  • Generosity
  • Healthy attachment
  • Respect for differences
  • Confidence
  • Dignity
  • Honesty
  • Humility
  • Morality
  • Loyalty/commitment
  • Hope, optimism and positivity
  • Personal responsibility
  • Willingness to work hard
  • Acceptance of hardship
  • Toughness and survivalism
  • Independence
  • Creativity/imagination
  • A sense of personal identity/uniqueness
  • Purpose
  • Cultivation of one’s best self

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