Living skills like cooking, doing household chores, budgeting and having social skills (like manners) begin early in a child’s life and build slowly. Young people in care may need extra support to develop these skills – giving them confidence and building independence.
Teaching teenagers about everyday tasks can happen gradually but don’t underestimate the importance of preparing them for the challenges of life. Encourage good habits, social skills and practical skills like making a doctors appointment and applying for a tax file number. Everything from phone skills and making appointments to how to re-heat food safely, the value of things, mobile phone safety … there is much to learn.
Don’t assume teenagers already know and remember that some information will need repeating.
Young people should be encouraged to learn to drive, join a sports club or taking up a hobby, or volunteering. Consider their interests and what they like to do. Use the Living Skills checklist to guide conversations and consider when and how teenagers will learn certain skills or improve their skills.
It is also important to give praise when they do well. For example: 'fantastic cooking', 'great news on your part time work', 'well done for making that phone call, you spoke so well'.
Caseworkers and carers can work together to think about how best to prepare young people for everyday life.
The following links provide information about living skills. Click to find out more:
Building independent living skills
- Independent Living Skills checklist
- Healthy eating and cooking basics
- Money and budgeting skills
- Public transport skills
- Grocery shopping
- General housekeeping and cleaning skills
- Basic home maintenance
- Basic vehicle maintenance
- Personal hygiene
- Interpersonal skills
- Time management skills
- Goal setting and obtaining skills
- The ability to cope with loneliness
- Support for obtaining a licence
- Safer Drivers Course (SDC)
- Learner driver licence
- Green Light Movement - pairs would-be drivers with experienced mentors who will supervise their driving for two hours a week until they reach 120 hours. They also provide up to five professional lessons. The cost is capped at 8 per cent of the young person’s income.