American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences (AAFCS)

This framework was created by Marilyn Swierk, CFCS, CFLE. It was revised, under her direction, by a team of teachers in 1996. It is presented to you courtesy of Warwick Public Schools, Warwick, RI 02886. Questions may be addressed to Marilyn Swierk at 401-884-5510 or

Life Skills Course Description

Grade Level: 11 and 12, 16 week semester
The purpose of this course is to increase student knowledge and ability in skills necessary for everyday living. Topics included will be self-assessment relating to others, post secondary education, careers, employment, consumerism, money management, housing, food, marketing and preparation, clothing choices and care. There is special emphasis on using the community as a classroom. This course gives the type of knowledge needed by everyone for everyday living. (Time frame dependent on teacher discretion and class composition.)

Course Outline:

I. Self-assessment
   A. Personality
   B. Abilities & aptitudes
   C. Interests

II. Values, Goals
   B.Needs vs. wants
   C.Sources of values and goals

Ill. Analyzing Resources
   A. Human
       1. knowledge
       2. skills
       3. energy
   B. Material
       1. time
       2. money
       3. community

IV. Relating to Others
     A. Communication
         1. verbal vs. non-verbal
         2. body language
         3. barriers
     B. Relationships
         1. family
         2. friends
         3. marriage
         4. parenting

V. Higher Education and/or Employment
     A. Post-secondary education
     B. Career
     C. Getting and keeping a job

VI. Money Management
     A. Understanding a paycheck
         1. gross vs. net
         2. deductions
     B. Budgets
         1. keeping records
         2. fixed vs. variable expenses
         3. preparing a plan
     C. Banking services
         1. checking accounts
         2. savings accounts
         3. investments
         4. credit
     D. Loans and interest rates

VII. Consumerism
     A. Shopping guidelines and skills
         1. impulse buying
         2. advertising
         3. gimmicks
         4. store policies
     B. Warranty, guarantees
     C. Fraud
         1. consumer laws
         2. Better Business Bureau
         3. consumer complaint agencies
     D. Transportation
     E. Insurance
     F. Leisure time

VIII. Housing
       A. Rental vs. ownership
           1. advantages and disadvantages
           2. types of housing
       B. Legalities
           1. leases
           2. deeds
           3. mortgages
           4. furnishing and decorating
           5. housework
           6. simple home maintenance

IX. Food Choices and Preparation
     A. Nutrition
     B. Menu planning and budgeting
     C. Shopping skills
         1. coupons, refunds, specials, loss leaders
         2. universal product code
         3. unit pricing
         4. labeling
         5. open code dating
     D. Simple meal preparation

X. Clothing
   A. Wardrobe, planning and selection
   B. Shopping for clothes
   C. Clothing maintenance
       1. laundering and cleaning
       2. repairs and alterations

XI. Health Care
     A. Needs
         1. individual
         2. unexpected
     B. Cost vs. benefit
     C. Types
     D. Quackery
     E. Preventative health measures

XII. Service Learning
     A. Needs assessment
     B. Appropriate projects and experiences

XIII. Career Skills and Opportunities
     A. Skills transferable to the workplace
     B. Exploration of course related careers
     C. Levels and requirements of related careers in the area of life skills
         1. Professional
         2. Paraprofessional
         3. Entry level
     D. Career options related to Lifeskills

Skills and Competencies
Students will be able to:

  1. Analyze their personality using New Directions self-analysis.
  2. Complete and analyze a Harrington-O'Shea Interest survey.
  3. Define values, goals, needs, and wants.
  4. List future goals.
  5. Discuss factors affecting values.
  6. Assess how their personality and abilities will affect future goals.
  7. Distinguish between effective and non-effective communication.
  8. Define body language and describe its effect on communication.
  9. Develop a checklist for evaluating friendships.
  10. Evaluate present friendships and describe their value.
  11. Describe:
    a. characteristics of a person ready for marriage and parenthood.
    b. the points to consider in choosing a partner.
    c. advantages and disadvantages of parenthood.
  12. Complete self-tests on readiness for marriage and parenthood.
  13. Categorize the various stages of the family life cycle.
  14. Define and list human and non-human resources.
  15. Analyze available resources.
  16. List available job resources.
  17. Participate in activities and discussions on first impressions.
  18. Complete a sample job application.
  19. Compose a letter of application.
  20. Write an entry level job resume.
  21. Role play job interviews.
  22. Analyze a paycheck and differentiate between gross and net income.
  23. Compute payroll deductions using sample pay stubs.
  24. Create a hypothetical budget.
  25. Categorize fixed/variable expenses.
  26. Prepare an individual budget plan.
  27. Write out sample checks and balance a sample checking account statement.
  28. Establish adequate savings plans and utilize banking services.
  29. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of various types of credit.
  30. Complete a sample credit application.
  31. Apply for a hypothetical loan and compute the interest payment.
  32. Define terms related to shopping skills.
  33. Compile a class list of shopping guidelines.
  34. Complete advertising activities using the newspaper.
  35. Explain the difference between a warranty and a guarantee.
  36. Examine and evaluate several guarantees and warranties.
  37. Describe ways to spot a fraud.
  38. List examples of fraudulent consumer practices.
  39. Explain the basic legal rights and responsibilities of the consumer.
  40. Write a consumer complaint letter.
  41. List and compare costs of the various types of transportation.
  42. Compare and contrast buying a new car vs. a used car.
  43. List and describe various types and costs of insurance.
  44. Plan various ways to use leisure time and estimate the cost of each.
  45. Estimate the cost for a vacation trip.
  46. Compare renting an apartment/condo vs. buying a home/condo.
  47. Read newspaper ads on apartments to rent and investigate as to the accuracy of the ad.
  48. Rewrite a housing lease in layman's terms.
  49. Select quality furniture and household goods.
  50. Demonstrate efficient ways to clean, decorate, and make simple repairs to a dwelling.
  51. List and describe the food pyramid and explain its significance on good meal preparation.
  52. Keep a food record diary for one week.
  53. Demonstrate proper use of shopping skills in preparing a market order.
  54. Plan and budget a menu for one week.
  55. Prepare a simple meal and share recipes with class.
  56. List important considerations in wardrobe planning.
  57. Prepare a clothing inventory.
  58. Estimate the cost and prepare a budget to clothe a teenager (self) for one season.
  59. Demonstrate the correct way to sort, launder and store clothing and how to make simple repairs and alterations.
  60. Compare costs and/or benefits of various health care plans and life insurance programs.
  61. Take a pulse and oral temperature and inspect a throat correctly.
  62. Participate in service learning projects.
  63. Investigate various careers related to life skills/consumerism.
  64. Complete a career report/interview.
  65. Use technology where and whenever applicable.
  66. Explore and assess local, national or global needs involving lifeskills and develop appropriate service activities to provide assistance.
  67. Exhibit subject area skills transferable to the workplace.

Suggested Instructional Strategies
General techniques to be used as student activities, teacher strategies, and assessments are listed in the beginning of this guide. Listed below are suggested techniques specific to this subject.

  1. Demonstrations of written skills pertaining to various forms
  2. Supervise various field experiences into marketplace
  3. Field trips: furniture store, supermarket, department store
  4. Guest speakers: Department of Employment Training, banker, insurance agent, lawyer, realtor
  5. Individual skills performance through laboratory experiences-pulse and temperature mending, meal preparation
  6. Coordinate service leaning plans and experiences
  7. Facilitate a lifeskills fair


  1. Refer to Curriculum Evaluation: General Instruments and Procedures
  2. Budgets
  3. Resumes
  4. Skills exhibition and fair

Some Additional Student Activities

  1. Computer activity on personality analysis.
  2. Self-analysis to list as many positive or negative personality traits.
  3. Written description of occupation, accomplishments, life, etc., 10 years in the future.
  4. Panel discussion on post-graduate schooling vs. immediate employment.
  5. Write sample resumes.
  6. Fill out sample job application.
  7. Discuss and role play job performance and etiquette.
  8. Activities and discussions on first impressions.
  9. Group activity; each will describe and role play a stage of the life cycle to the class.
  10. Develop a checklist for evaluating friendships.
  11. role play patterns and levels of communication.
  12. role play effective and ineffective communication.
  13. Self-tests on readiness for marriage and readiness for parenthood.
  14. Buzz groups for points to consider in choosing a partner.
  15. Analyze a paycheck.
  16. Create a budget plan.
  17. Write out sample checks and balance a sample checking account.
  18. Apply for a hypothetical loan and compute the interest payment.
  19. Fill out a credit application.
  20. Compile a class list of shopping guidelines.
  21. Examine and evaluate several warranties and guarantees.
  22. Go through the hypothetical process of buying a used car and a new car of the same model. Compare prices, advantages, and disadvantages.
  23. Purchase hypothetical insurance and compute rates based on actual tables.
  24. Read newspaper ads on homes to rent or buy. Investigate the homes as to the accuracy of the ad.