Most students look forward to leaving school and getting out into the real world. Yet the transition from school to a working life, or a course at university, isn’t always as straightforward as some may think. Suddenly, teenagers need to pay their own bills and take responsibility for where they live. However, if teachers (and parents) take the initiative to prepare students for life after school in the following ways, teenagers should at least have the necessary skills.
Encourage community involvement
Communication with a range of different people becomes necessary for life after school and, for a young person who has always been able to rely on parents and teachers, it can be a real strain. Encouraging teenagers to become more involved with the community is a great way to introduce them to more people of different ages so that they learn how to interact with all sorts of people outside their peer group. Many schools develop community projects; if yours doesn’t, then suggest setting something up.
Help with work experience
Some teens will have a part-time job, either because their parents force them to, or because they are forward-thinking enough to know that the money and experience will come in useful. Yet, there will always be some teens who are too shy, or whose parents want them to concentrate on studying rather than working. In the run-up to leaving school, work experience, whether paid or not, can be of great value to teens. Teachers can therefore set up links with local businesses to allow students to work there for half a day a week for a few weeks.
Help them apply knowledge
One of the difficulties that many teens have when they go out into the big wide world is that they don’t know how to apply the knowledge that they have gained. In the case of maths, for example, they may have memorised the formulae and know how to answer questions when they are phrased in a certain way, but they may not see how it can help in the big wide world. To a certain extent, this cannot be taught, but communicating with other adults can help. Some schools appoint advisers to help with applying knowledge to problem solve and other important attributes like this.
Give career advice
It can be incredibly hard for teens to know what they want to do after school. They may be thinking of a specific area, but it is not necessarily right for their qualifications or personality. Teachers should give as much advice as possible, arranging workshops to discuss options and asking speakers to come in and speak about specific careers. Let students know that they can approach you to discuss their particular cases. A designated career adviser is also a good idea; this should be someone who is proactive rather than reactive.
Teach budgeting and other life skills
Few teenagers realise the true value of money; they certainly rarely know how far a week’s wages or study allowance has to go until they start having to pay for their accommodation, utilities and living costs. A designated budgeting class or workshop is a good way to suggest ways of budgeting and remind teens just how much the things they take for granted can cost. Other life skills could also be covered, such as basic cooking and cleaning and interview skills. Explaining where to go if they do need financial help is another useful thing for them to know.
Encourage public speaking
Some teens are confident enough to do anything they want and love to be in the limelight. Many don’t though. Unfortunately, public speaking is something most people have to do at some point. The younger teens are when they start to speak in public the better. You don’t need to scare them to death; just providing plenty of opportunity to speak in front of the rest of the class for a minute or so will do them a lot of good. Hopefully, they will have done that throughout school anyway, but in the last couple of years of school, it becomes particularly important.
Life is a very personal experience and only the person who is living it can fully be in control. Nevertheless, you can help prepare the students in your charge for life after school – at least by giving them some of the skills they need to make their own way.