Skills we should be teaching our children in school

Skills we should be teaching our children in school

/ 02:05 AM January 16, 2024

(Second of two parts)

Last week, we discussed how subjects such as writing, communication, interpersonal skills, public speaking, coding, computer programming, and cybersecurity should be taught in school in order to equip the future generation with skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the modern world.

Below are a few more essential subjects our students should be learning today:


4. Financial literacy

Becoming financially literate allows one to have freedom and flexibility to shape the quality of one’s life. It empowers individuals to choose their profession, determine the time dedicated to work or leisure, and crucially, equips them with the knowledge they need to steer clear of the pitfalls of debt later in life.


Therefore, teaching financial education in schools is paramount at the earliest opportunity. Reflecting on personal finance lessons during my own school years, it largely revolved around budgeting our allowances, stashing away savings in a cash box, and indulging in small purchases like playing cards, snacks, books, or trinkets.

Post-Covid, many schools have adopted a no-cash policy for cafeteria and bookstore transactions, relying on digital methods such as Gcash and Maya, or sometimes prepaid coupons. However, this transition deprives students of the tactile learning experience of handling, counting, and saving physical money.

More than ever, it is imperative to integrate a comprehensive financial literacy program into the school curriculum, commencing in early grade levels and extending through graduation. This should encompass essential money management skills, including budgeting, saving, understanding the concept of debt, and exploring investment opportunities.

Once adept at maintaining their financial accounts and consistently depositing funds, students can then be taught various investment avenues such as time deposits, mutual funds, stocks, insurance products, and even cryptocurrencies.

5. Real world exposure/Exercises in independence

By the time students are in high school, they should be exposed to diverse environments, aimed at acquainting them with individuals from varied backgrounds, orientation, culture, and beliefs. These experiences open their eyes to how big the world actually is.

There are various programs such as CISV, which sends children to live in other countries, and there are also programs that are integrated into the school curriculum. Many local schools now organize domestic or foreign learning or exposure trips for their students, spanning from a few days to a few months.


These programs are important as they instill independence in our students, many of whom might have been living sheltered lives up until that point. During these experiences, students learn to live without their parents, cohabitate with peers, engage with people from different backgrounds, prepare and take care of their own things, and manage their finances.

6. Language skills

Local schools should prioritize developing strong language skills in students, with emphasis on proficiency in English and Filipino. While most students in private schools are fluent in English, it is concerning how a good number of them have lost the ability to communicate fluently in our mother tongue.

This may be attributed to parents using the English language with their children at home, as well as the lack of Filipino TV shows for children. In my youth, we had Batibot, noontime variety shows, and teleseryes, but today’s kids have Netflix and Youtube. Perhaps private schools can consider focusing more on conversational Filipino. Otherwise it would be painful to imagine future leaders of this country not being able to even communicate with the masses.

Conversely, for less privileged students, schools should focus on ensuring proficiency in their English language skills.

Beyond English and Filipino, it should be mandatory for our schools to include teaching of a least one foreign language in their curriculum, whether it be Spanish or Mandarin. This will equip our students with an extra skill, enhancing their value in the workforce.

7. Sports

These days, P.E. or Physical Education should not be limited simply to basic exercises or calisthenics. Students should be exposed to different sports, with the goal of finding one sport that they enjoy. The goal here is not necessarily to excel, but simply to learn a sport well enough to actually enjoy it. This goes beyond the physical benefits, encompassing the development of teamwork, discipline, and resilience in our children.

8. Practical life skills (cooking, nutrition, farming, home repairs)

We can all agree that the goal of the educational system should extend beyond academic preparation, aiming to mold students into positive contributors in Philippine society.

In equipping our youth with practical life skills, there is a need to emphasize areas such as cooking, nutrition, basic survival skills, and proper social etiquette.

During my elementary years, we had a subject called Home Education, while other schools had similar subjects called Work Education and Home Economics. We learned things such as carpentry, silk-screening, pottery, and boy/girl scout classes that taught survival skills such as fire starting, knot-tying, first-aid and camping.

While many schools offer cooking classes, the lessons tend to be quite basic. As a father, I would love for my children to know how to prepare their own simple meals, such as fried rice, omelets, salads or even simple ulam like adobo. The aim should be for them to be able to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and in the future, for their families. Needless to say, cooking is a skill that every student needs to learn, regardless of gender, and must be taught in all-girls, all-boys, and co-ed schools.

Aside from cooking, it is also imperative for students to learn about proper nutrition, and ideally even how to grow their own vegetables at home (simple farming).

Other basic survival skills that are important to learn include carpentry, home repairs and upkeep, and other things they will need to be self-sufficient in their daily lives.

9. Social etiquette

Schools play a vital role in preparing students for various aspects of life. A crucial component of this is teaching social etiquette, encompassing practical skills such as composing proper emails, navigating college application (and later on job application) processes, as mastering various social scenarios. By incorporating these lessons into the curriculum, students not only enhance their communication skills, but also develop the confidence and professionalism required in real-world situations.

10. Mental health and wellness

Last but not the least, we need to teach our youth how to take care of their mental health. The onslaught of information and constant exposure to social media demands a greater focus on mental health within our schools. Students should be educated on stress management, emotional regulation, meditation, and coping strategies, providing them with the skills and knowledge to prioritize their own well-being.

The educational landscape is diverse and ever-evolving, but certain subjects form the bedrock of a comprehensive curriculum. A well-rounded education integrates core academic disciplines with practical life skills, social and civic education, creative outlets, critical thinking, and future-oriented skills. This holistic approach empowers students to be adaptable, well-informed, and actively engaged members of society, preparing them to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the future.

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(The author, Atty. John Philip C. Siao, is a practicing lawyer and founding Partner of Tiongco Siao Bello & Associates Law Offices, an Arbitrator of the Construction Industry Arbitration Commission of the Philippines, and teaches law at the De La Salle University Tañada-Diokno School of Law. He may be contacted at [email protected]. The views expressed in this article belong to the author alone.)

TAGS: For Law's sake, lessons, skills

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