Life skills in Canada

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Definition of Life Skills[edit]

The Saskatchewan NewStart model of Life Skills defines Life Skills like this:

Life Skills, precisely defined, means problem-solving behaviors appropriately and responsibly used in the management of personal affairs. As problem-solving behaviors, life skills liberate in a way, since they include a relatively small class of behaviors usable in many life situations. Appropriate use requires an individual to adapt the behaviors to time and place. Responsible use requires maturity, or accountability. And as behaviors used in the management of personal affairs, the life skills apply to five areas of life responsibility identified as self, family, leisure, community and job (Himsl, 1973, p. 13).[1]

Assumptions about Life Skills[edit]

The Saskatchewan NewStart model of Life Skills assumes that Life Skills are skills that can be identified, demonstrated, broken down into component parts, learned through imitation and practise, and transferred to other situations.[2] Examples of basic Life Skills lessons include listening to others, describing feelings, relating to others, and giving and receiving feedback.[3]

Concept of skill in Life Skills[edit]

The Canadian model of Life Skills lists the following characteristics of a skill: it has a definite purpose; it can be described in terms of observable behaviour; an increase in competency can be observed.[4]

Primary goal of a Life Skills program[edit]

The primary goal of a Life Skills program is to encourage participants to develop and use balanced self-determined behaviour (BSD).[5] BSD is defined as "behaviour that results from a conscious choice that considers the situation, one’s own and other’s needs, as well as the potential consequences of that particular choice." [6] BSD training increases a participant’s repertoire of choices, enhancing sense of self, increasing life satisfaction, and improving relationships with others.[7]

Objectives of a Life Skills course[edit]

The main objective of a Life Skills course is to train group members/participants who will draw from a broad repertoire of problem-solving behaviours to meet the challenges of everyday life in the five areas of life responsibility. The extent to which the students integrate these new behaviours in their lives during and after completing the course is the measure of success of a Life Skills course/program.[8]

A Life Skills course is successful when graduates not only demonstrate the ability to practise new problem-solving skills in group and use the skills in their personal lives, but also teach these skills to others in their life situation; in other words, their ability to Practise, Use and Teach (P.U.T) new skills is reflective of true integration and unconscious competence in Life Skills.[9]

Life Skills methodology[edit]

The Canadian model of Life Skills training prescribes a very definite structure to the Life Skills lesson, which differentiates the training from other models of learning. Each lesson includes a Rationale, the Goals, and the six Phases: Stimulus, Evocation, Objective Enquiry, Skills Practise, Application and Evaluation.[10] Life Skills lessons also typically begin with a Warm Up component.[11]

Some descriptions of the NewStart Model of Life Skills combine some of the phases listed above. For example, The Canadian Alliance of Life Skills Coaches and Associations (CALSA) refers to a five step process for the delivery of each Life Skills topic, combining the 3rd and 4th phases into a single “Objective Inquiry/Skill Practice” phase.[3]

In the YWCA Toronto’s Discovering Life Skills series of manuals for Life Skills coaches and facilitators, some volumes use a modified lesson template with the following lesson components: Goals, Rationale, Warm Up, Exercise 1 (Stimulus & Evocation), Theory (Objective Enquiry), Exercise 2 (Skill Practice), Exercise 3 (Skills Application) and Evaluation.[12]

Life Skills topics[edit]

YWCA Toronto, publisher of the Discovering Life Skills series of manuals for Life Skills coaches and facilitators, provides the following, non-exhaustive list of possible topics to cover in a Life Skills course:

Anger, Assertiveness, Assumptions About Ourselves and Others, Balancing Work and Leisure, Conflict Resolution, Constructive Criticism, Conversation Skills, Coping with Change, Creativity, Decision-Making, Expressing Feelings, Exploring Leisure Ideas, Identifying Strengths, Job Search Techniques, Listening, Loneliness, Loss, Problem-Solving, Self-Esteem, Setting Goals, Sexual Harassment, Sharing Our Values, Stress, Time Management, Values and Work, Valuing Our Differences.[13]

The choice of topics for a Life Skills course will depend on the needs and purpose of the particular group.[13] Key factors to consider in designing a Life Skills program, in adapting Life Skills materials to a particular group, and in sequencing the lessons include the group’s needs, objectives and abilities.[14]

Life Skills process model[edit]

The Life Skills course integrates content and three process dimensions: a student response to content dimension, a student use of group dimension, and a problem-solving dimension.[15]

The student response to content dimension includes three types of responses or domains of learning: affective (feeling), cognitive (knowing), and psychomotor (acting/doing).[16]

The student use of group dimension describes the purpose of the learning group. The group process allows the member/participant to develop skills of self-expression, practise new behaviours and use feedback to modify behaviours. The group provides both acceptance and challenge.[17] As mutual trust develops, students progress from safe, to careful, to risky use of the group.[18]

According to the Life Skills problem-solving model individuals progress through six steps: recognizing a problem situation, defining the problem, generating possible solutions/predicting results, choosing solutions, implementing the solutions, and evaluating the results.[19]

Group development and group behaviours[edit]

Researchers on group dynamics have identified several, predictable stages through which groups typically move as they form, go about their work, and separate. Bruce Tuckman’s four-stage model, perhaps one of the best known models of group development, uses the terms forming, storming, norming and performing to identify the stages of group development. A fifth adjourning stage refers to the typical process groups experience as they separate.[20] Models of group development are useful in that they serve as guides for groups and coaches to use when reflecting on and discussing their own processes.[21]

Group behaviours can be classified into two broad categories: task functions and maintenance/group building functions. However, most behaviour contains elements of both task and maintenance roles.[22]

Group behaviours can also be classified into helpful and hindering/harmful behaviours. Examples of helpful group behaviours include initiating, seeking information or opinion, giving information or opinion, elaborating, coordinating, summarizing, encouraging, gatekeeping, standard setting, expressing group feeling, relieving tension, diagnosing, testing for consensus, and mediating and harmonizing.[23] Examples of hindering/harmful group behaviours include being aggressive, blocking, competing, seeking sympathy, special pleading, horsing around, seeking recognition, withdrawing, foreclosing and minimizing.[24] Members of a Life Skills group are encouraged to reflect on their own behaviours in order to transform self-oriented behaviours, which tend to hinder the group, into helpful group behaviours.

Roles of the Life Skills coach[edit]

The Canadian Alliance of Life Skills Coaches and Associations (CALSCA) offers the following definition of a Life Skills coach:

"A Life Skills Coach is a trained para-professional who is able to facilitate groups, model and evaluate skills and support individualized learning. Coaches work from their hearts, demonstrating with their lives, their growth, and through their range of emotion and depth of experience, the effective use of the skills that they offer to their participants. Coaches put themselves on the line, human to human (Allen, Mehal, Palmateer, & Sluser, 1995; Conger, 1973, p. 3; Curtiss & Friedman, 1973; Curtiss & Warren, 1973)." [25]

Life Skills coaches’ facilitation tasks include facilitating problem-solving, creating a safe climate/environment, and managing conflict. Life Skills coaches also teach and model helpful group behaviours and balanced self-determined behaviour (BSD), share their own experiences and self disclose as members of the group, and share their resources and knowledge of processes in the service of the group goals. Furthermore, Life Skills coaches help group members accomplish their goals, and they encourage the group to reflect on and discuss its development and ways of working together.[26]

Life Skills coaches have expertise in both content and process and are flexible in moving back and forth between the two.[27] Life Skills coaches are also flexible in their choice of leadership (influencing and intervention) styles; they shift from directive, to harmonizer, to laissez faire to democratic according to the needs and abilities of the group at different stages of its development.[28] The Life Skills coach encourages group members to share the leadership role with him/her as the group matures.[29]

Regardless of the stage of the group’s development, it is the Life Skills coach’s responsibility to ensure that the Life Skills lessons are meeting the group’s needs.[30]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Himsl, R. (1973). Life skills: A course in applied problem solving. In V. Mullen (Ed.), Readings in life skills (pp. 13-25). Prince Albert, SK: Department of Manpower and Immigration.
  2. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.16 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  3. ^ a b The Canadian Alliance of Life Skills Coaches and Associations (CALSCA). “The NewStart Model of Life Skills.” http://calsca.com/history.htm
  4. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.17 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  5. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.40 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  6. ^ YWCA Toronto. (1997 and 2006). Discovering Life Skills, New Volume 1: Building Groups & Warm Ups, 2nd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.5 ISBN 1-895625-08-4
  7. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.39-44 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  8. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.29 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  9. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.69 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  10. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.66-68 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  11. ^ YWCA Toronto. (1997 and 2006). Discovering Life Skills, New Volume 1: Building Groups & Warm Ups, 2nd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. ISBN 1-895625-08-4
  12. ^ YWCA Toronto. (2006). Discovering Life Skills, Volume 6: Communicating Assertively, 3rd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.vi ISBN 1-895625-04-1
  13. ^ a b YWCA Toronto. (1997 and 2006). Discovering Life Skills, New Volume 1: Building Groups & Warm Ups, 2nd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.26 ISBN 1-895625-08-4
  14. ^ YWCA Toronto. (1998). Discovering Life Skills, Volume 3, 2nd edition (revised). Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.1-4 ISBN 1-895625-05-X
  15. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.71-75 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  16. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.71-72 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  17. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.72-73 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  18. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.75 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  19. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.73 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  20. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.122-132 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  21. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.131 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  22. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.136 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  23. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.141-145 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  24. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.136-140 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  25. ^ The Canadian Alliance of Life Skills Coaches and Associations (CALSCA). “What is a Life Skills Coach?” http://calsca.com/coachdef.htm
  26. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.148 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  27. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.149 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  28. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. pp.149-151 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  29. ^ Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.122 ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  30. ^ YWCA Toronto. (1997 and 2006). Discovering Life Skills, New Volume 1: Building Groups & Warm Ups, 2nd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. p.3 ISBN 1-895625-08-4

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Allen, S., Mehal, M., Palmateer, S., & Sluser, R., editors. (1995). The New Dynamics of Life Skills Coaching. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. ISBN 1-895625-02-5
  • Himsl, R. (1973). Life skills: A course in applied problem solving. In V. Mullen (Ed.), Readings in life skills (pp. 13–25). Prince Albert, SK: Department of Manpower and Immigration.
  • YWCA Toronto. (1997 and 2006). Discovering Life Skills, New Volume 1: Building Groups & Warm Ups, 2nd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. ISBN 1-895625-08-4
  • YWCA Toronto. (1998). Discovering Life Skills, Volume 3, 2nd edition (revised). Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. ISBN 1-895625-05-X
  • YWCA Toronto. (2006). Discovering Life Skills, Volume 6: Communicating Assertively, 3rd edition. Toronto: YWCA of Greater Toronto. ISBN 1-895625-04-1

External links[edit]

  • The Canadian Alliance of Life Skills Coaches and Associations (CALSCA)
  • http://calsca.com/

Categories[edit]