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Free Life Skills Curriculum Options and Tips

Michele Meleen
Teacher and students chopping vegetables in cooking class

Finding a free life skills curriculum is easier than you think. From daily living skills like cooking to money management and math life skills, you can find a free curriculum for almost any life skill. Explore the available options and see how you might adapt the ones you like best to fit your child's needs.

Life Skills Curriculum Options for Elementary Students

Life skills for elementary students include personal hygiene, communication, basic cooking, simple household chores, and basic money management. While you can find many free curricula for younger kids, most are not comprehensive enough to cover all life skills. Look for two good ones you can combine to make a great life skills curriculum.

Good Character Life Skills Curriculum

At goodcharacter.com, you can find free character development and social-emotional learning lessons for kids in all grades, but their elementary curriculum stands out. This life skills program focuses on the skills that will help kids make friends, interact with others, regulate emotions, ask for help, keep themselves safe, and stand up for what they believe in.

  • There are 11 topics for kids in grades K-3, including Spanish versions of these lessons.
  • There are 10 different topics for kids in grades K-5.
  • You have the option of purchasing videos that compliment each lesson, but the lesson plans can be used without the videos.
  • Each lesson includes a brief explanation of the topic, general discussion questions, and several detailed activity suggestions.
  • There are no required materials or materials to print.
  • There is no curriculum schedule suggested, but you could choose one topic to explore each week.
Children playing together and sharing toys

Money Smart for Young People

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has a free life skills curriculum series called Money Smart for Young People. The program is broken down into four parts for different age levels from elementary school through high school. The curricula for elementary students includes a Pre-K-2 program and a 3-5 program.

  • The lessons focus on four financial topics: earn, spend, save and invest, and borrow.
  • Each curriculum includes a brief introductory video for parents.
  • The curricula are aligned with typical school standards.
  • The lessons are designed to be flexible so you can teach one, combine them, or incorporate them in lessons for other subjects.
  • Each curriculum includes an educator's guide with modification ideas and teacher slides you can use for a presentation.
  • They suggest a lesson schedule.
  • The free downloadable curriculum includes student worksheets.

ChopChop Cooking Club

Kids can begin to learn essential cooking skills in elementary school. The ChopChop Cooking Club is set up by the makers of the nonprofit magazine ChopChop. This online platform is meant for kids ages 5-12 and their families. The lessons are set up as challenges and kids earn virtual badges for completing them.

  • You have to register with an email address, but the program is free.
  • For each lesson or challenge, you get a new recipe to try making.
  • Challenges focus on essential cooking skills like using blenders or other kitchen tools and learning different cooking techniques like roasting.
  • Each challenge also comes with things like storage tips, related activities, and discussion starters.
Granddaughter helping grandmother baste turkey

Life Skills Curriculum Options for Middle School Students

Life skills for middle school students include communication, dealing with bullying, dealing with rejection, setting goals, managing money, shopping, and cooking.

Overcoming Obstacles Curriculum

Overcoming Obstacles has curricula for all grade levels. The middle school curriculum is designed for students in junior high. It covers topics like goal setting, communication, and decision-making to help students become successful in the workforce when they are adults.

  • The program is free, but you do have to register using your home address.
  • After you register, you'll be able to download and print the PDF materials. There's also a free app you can use to access the curriculum.
  • Problem-solving, conflict management, and stress management are all covered.
  • You don't have to teach the lessons in any particular order, so you can set your own schedule for them.

Money Math: Lessons for Life

Students in grades 7-9 can learn about personal finance topics using the free five-lesson curriculum Money Math: Lessons for Life. The curriculum is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

  • You can download the entire 86-page book for free or you can download the five individual lessons separately.
  • The free book includes a teacher's guide, lesson plans, activity pages you can copy and print, and tips for teaching.
  • Lessons use real-life examples to help students relate to the topics.
  • Topics include things like taxes and budgeting.
  • The curriculum is meant to supplement math classes.

Plain and Not So Plain Life Skills Curricula

Homeschooling mom blogger Amy from Plain and Not So Plain offers three free life skills curricula on her blog. Most of these are written in simple language, making them easy for special education students to understand and complete. The hands-on skills and lessons are appropriate for all ages.

Life Skills Curriculum Options for High School Students

A high school life skills curriculum typically includes topics like job readiness, financial planning, and home management to help prepare teens for life on their own. These are the life skills a teen needs to know before they graduate.

Youth Skills for LIFE Curriculum

United Methodist Family Services of Virginia (UMFS) and the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) teamed up to create Youth Skills for LIFE. This free independent living skills curriculum is meant to help older youth transition to adulthood. It focuses on six broad categories with two to four workshops for each topic. This curriculum was designed for the special needs of at-risk students, but is applicable to all teens.

  • The categories covered are: career preparation, education, health and nutrition, housing and home management, risk prevention, and money management.
  • Each lesson includes a detailed leader's guide and printable worksheets.
  • There is no proposed schedule for presenting the curriculum, so you can schedule it however you like.

Building Your Future Curriculum

This four-part financial literacy curriculum was designed for students in high school. All the materials are in the form of PDFs you can download and print. Building Your Future is provided by The Actuarial Foundation.

  • Each unit is compiled into one book.
  • Each book includes chapters with descriptions and discussions of the topic, student worksheets, and an assessment.
  • Each book, or unit, has a companion book that is a teacher's guide.
  • You can complete the units and lessons in any order you choose.
  • Topics covered include using modern tools like spreadsheets and financial topics such as money management.
Teenage boy using his credit card

Tips for Choosing and Using a Life Skills Curriculum

Choosing the right curriculum for your child includes knowing what their level of maturity is and what their education abilities are.

  • Define life skills with your child so you know exactly what you're looking for in a curriculum.
  • Look beyond the recommended ages for a curriculum to find one that fits your child's ability level.
  • If you can't find one comprehensive curriculum you like, combine two or more.
  • Try to incorporate these lessons into daily school time or other subject areas so kids see how they connect to everything else they're learning.
  • Involve students in choosing which topics to cover and in what order. If it feels natural, you'll see less resistance or frustration.

Learn Skills for Life

A free life skills curriculum can help you focus lessons on things that might not be covered by a math or language arts curriculum. Kids can learn life skills at home without a curriculum just by doing everyday tasks. However, using a curriculum can ensure you cover all the important life skills your student needs to learn.

Free Life Skills Curriculum Options and Tips