8 vital life skills to focus on with your form

From financial literacy to organisation, there are plenty of life skills that can be usefully developed in form time
6th November 2020, 4:00pm
Rose Vu


8 vital life skills to focus on with your form

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During my time as a homeroom teacher - or form tutor -  at three different schools, I have noticed that the significance given to this time can vary enormously. 

Some schools have homeroom once a week and use it for general announcements, others have a 10-minute daily role call and a quick catch-up, but few schools give homeroom enough attention to have its own curriculum.

Yet, these programmes are a crucial way to build school values, guide students' behaviour, provide pastoral care and teach crucial life skills.

At my current school, the program is given a name that reflects its importance: the Core Values Program (CVP).

How to run a CVP

To ensure this can be taught properly, homeroom CVP classes are allotted 30 minutes in the morning every day to give students a time and place to settle before starting classes.

This time is partly used to discuss behavioural issues, reinforce school rules, set and track goals for the academic year, but the CVP goes into other key areas, too: digital literacy, careers, study skills and wellbeing, among others.

Below are some of the possible topics - the first four are recommended for students in grades 6- 8 and the second four are recommended for those students in grades 9 and 10. Each topic can span the length of a term.

1. Digital literacy

For the middle-school age group, it is important to explore how to use specific programs and applications for learning purposes.

Depending on the grade level, the programs can increase in complexity. It is also crucial to address issues of cyberbullying, online privacy and excessive media use.

Resources: Common Sense Media, Google Suite and Microsoft Office

2. Health and wellbeing

I have used this topic to get students to develop personal goals, from extracurricular success to social and emotional health.

It is also a great space to discuss bullying, self-confidence, self-care, mental health, and the adolescent brain.

Resources: Jigsaw

3. Global mindedness

This is also a space to discuss anti-discrimination and multiculturalism, to help students be open-minded and respectful of other cultures.

It could also be done as a class project around the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Resources: UNICEF - Convention on the Rights of the Child and UN - Sustainable Development Goals

4. Organisational and study skills

Middle school is a good time to start building organisational skills and study habits. Students can benefit from learning how to organise their time to have a more balanced lifestyle.

They could also learn about how to study smarter and be able to use technology to support their learning, rather than impede it.

Resources: Common Sense Media and Jigsaw

5. Digital literacy for older students

Building on from the middle school digital literacy courses, this course is intended to curb cyberbullying and focus on online privacy issues.

Older students tend to have a big presence on social media and so it is important to help them understand the implications of their online actions. 

Resources: Common Sense Media

6. Financial literacy

At this age group, students may have part-time jobs and be more independent with their spending. They should be given information about how to manage their money.

Discussions and activities can revolve around budgeting, banking services, credit cards, saving, consumer awareness and privacy.

Resources: Khan Academy and Incharge

7. Emotional and mental health

Health and wellbeing is still an important aspect of homeroom classes that should be carried through from middle to high school.

As students approach their senior years of schooling, the stress of study and future aspirations will be a big weight on their shoulders.

It is important for homeroom teachers to guide students towards a sense of balance and control in their lives and discuss topics such as happiness and resilience.

Resources: The Happiness Lab

8. Career and education pathways

At high-school level, students need to start deciding their subjects and thinking about future courses and career pathways.

Homeroom teachers can help with this by inviting the school career counsellor and other advisers in to give students more information and discuss future career options.

Students can also be given time to look up information online on courses and jobs that they may be interested in and properly assess what options are open to them.

Resources: School career counsellor, CAS program coordinator and specific resources from universities that students wish to enter

With six years of homeroom teaching experiences, Rose Vu is currently a grade 8 homeroom teacher at Nord Anglia International School of Rotterdam

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