Teaching life skills

Life skills are a basic foundation that prepares youth for success in life. The Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program helps youth develop life skills over time through 4-H Projects.

The Michigan 4-H Youth Development Program uses volunteers scattered around the state to help build youth build important life skills. These volunteers use tools such as the Targeting Life Skill Wheel (TLS), developed by Iowa State University.

The TLS wheel provides a simple and coordinated way for those who work with youth to incorporate life skills into their youth development work. There are 35 life skills on the TLS wheel that are broke into the following areas: Living, being, working, giving, caring, relating, managing and thinking.

In 4-H, the TLS can help volunteers plan age-appropriate activities for participants. Here are some questions for volunteers to think about when getting ready to plan a 4-H experience:

  • What is the life skill I want youth to learn?
  • How can I teach this life skill through experiences?
  • How can I help youth apply this life skill in future situations?
  • How can this life skill be used to strengthen family relationships?
  • How can I involve youth as resources for teaching other this life skill?

Michigan State University Extension has developed some skill-sheets designed for volunteers to help them incorporate life skills into 4-H projects. These tools include a 15-page packet of skill-sheets broken up by project areas. There is also a pocket size version of these skill sheets that come in handy at club meetings or experiences that provide questions to help volunteers make the life skill connections. All of these tools, plus a training CD can be purchase from the MSU Extension Bookstore.

To learn more about what life skill 4-H members in your county are learning, call your local MSU Extension office.

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