“Because sitting at SARS, filling out forms can be very intimidating” – This is what Life Orientation did not teach me.
It’s so funny how Life Orientation (L.O) was a compulsory subject from grade 8-10 (and still is today) yet it didn’t equip me with half of what I needed to survive and thrive in the real world.
Aimed at equipping learners with life skills, all I remember is learning how to set SMART goals – a method I honestly barely use in my daily life. Recently, I’ve been thinking about all the things that should’ve been taught in L.O, and how they’ve become young adults’ responsibilities to learn for themselves.
As an almost-thirty reflecting on life – this is what I wish L.O taught me before I became an adult, as well as what I think parents should ensure their children know before they graduate high school.
A little context
During my late teen years and most of my twenties, I went through life not quite knowing what I was actually doing when it came to things like taxes, investing and insurance. Thank goodness for my tax practitioner! There were so many ‘life skills’ that sounded completely foreign to me purely based on the lack of education/knowledge I had been afforded in school.
These life skills included:
- Opening a bank account for the first time
- Budgeting correctly
- Applying for my ID (If not done by the school)
- Doing my taxes
- Investing my money correctly
- Opening a retirement annuity
- Preparing for my pension fund
- Understanding property bonds and credit interest
This list might be longer depending who you ask!
L.O was always the fun, free lesson. I believe the curriculum covers very important content, content that should be reinforced daily in learners’ lives like physical health, balanced diet, and wellness but there is no harm in including some of the mentioned above too because it’s what we need to know on a daily basis as adults.
I am not disregarding the skills I learned, as a matter of fact, I’m thankful for the life skills L.O taught me in terms of becoming an adult who is able to adapt to different behaviours and social norms as well as use my communication skills, express my function as an adult and practice my wellness and well-being but the intricate money management issues needed work.
My support system
I fully relied on reaching out to other resources like my family, older friends, mentors, and professionals to guide me in the school of life. I remember asking my best friend how to use a tampon. It seems so simple but this is a life skill that women need to know, that some schools don’t dare touch on. If done incorrectly, it can be extremely dangerous. Young girls don’t always know who to turn to because periods are still seen as ’embarrassing’ by some institutions.
Now that I am older, Yes! Having to go out into the world and learn all of this myself was daunting but it has aided in building my personality, my character, and my maturity. Still, I find myself continuously learning.
When I think about possibly buying my own house one day (I am so excited to become a homeowner and start a family ) I am filled with panic because of being flooded with terms like bond and transfer frees (what is that?) and the professionals use language that often goes over our heads.
After chatting to other colleagues, I found I wasn’t alone, and that to some extent we all wanted to add a few notes to L.O’s curriculum.
Parents, it’s time to step in
I may not be able to change the education system so moms and parents I set you a challenge! Have you asked yourselves, what would you want your kids to be learning in Life Orientation? Looked over what they’re actually learning? I urge parents to teach kids even the bare minimum basics so that they have a slight understanding of some of the skills I mentioned early. Teach them to be street-smart as if it were a course and encourage them to ask as many questions as possible to broaden their knowledge. And, most importantly, give them the low-down on taxes early so it doesn’t become an anxiety-inducing term later down the line!
Featured Image: Pexels