Learning Life Skills

A quick Internet search of “basic life skills” will land you thousands of articles about skills that every adult should know. These lists typically contain everything from cooking, cleaning and budgeting to problem solving, dressing sensibly and managing your time. But what happens when you don’t have anyone in your life to teach you these essential life skills? What happens when you’ve never had a positive example of these skills at home? Such is the case for many of the youth who come to Omaha Home for Boys. 

“Often we are seeing that youth know the bare minimum,” shared Katie Krause, Reporting Specialist at OHB. “We could have an 18-year-old who doesn’t even know how to do laundry. Often our clients come from unstable homes or have been in several foster care placements where these things were not modeled or taught to them.” 

For this reason, our Reporting Program has made it a goal to ensure that every youth who participates in the program learns beneficial life skills. Upon entering the program, every youth takes the Casey Life Skills Assessment in which they rate themselves on how confident they feel performing a number of life skills. The assessment examines a number of areas, including self-care, relationships, communication, money management, civic engagement and more. Staff and youth then work together to identify areas for growth and begin to practice skills. 

The Reporting Program has woven teaching life skills into its programming in a number of creative ways. During one recent project, youth cooked breakfast burritos. Not only did they practice cooking skills, but they also learned how to grocery shop on a budget, meal planning, nutrition basics and kitchen clean up. 

One unique life skill that the program teaches, and one that is often overlooked, is how to advocate for yourself. “We work with youth on how to speak up for themselves and teach them how to prepare for important meetings, such as court or family team meetings. We help them learn how to advocate for their own needs with confidence,” said Katie.  

Katie is proud that the Reporting Program helps youth practice skills that will benefit them for a lifetime and even more thrilled that it provides a safe place for them to learn and grow. “I like to think of OHB as a safety net,” said Katie. “We provide an environment where it’s okay for youth to say they don’t know how to do something and then we work together to teach them how.”