Independent Living In The 21st Century


Mastering certain life skills is essential to successful independent living.  Life skills includes more than learning how to prepare a meal, drive a car, schedule a doctor’s appointment, or dress for a job interview.  Our last blog post explored Common Core Standards And Youth In Foster Care. The Common Core Standards are skills acquired for use both inside and outside of the classroom. A key aspect of the Common Core Standards is to support educators in teaching students how to apply the knowledge they learn in school in the real world.
Major Common Core Standards Categories are:

– Life and Career Skills

– Flexibility and Adaptability

– Initiative and Self-Direction

– Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

– Productivity and Accountability

– Leadership and Responsibility


School can be difficult for many youth in foster care (for any variety of reasons).  Since we as foster care advocates understand that education is essential, our job is to offer youth reasons to stay in school.  How do we get school and the world of work to resemble each other?  The same skills are needed to thrive in both environments.  How can we make the transition to independent living less scary and stressful? In order to improve the likelihood of long-term success and economic stability, youth in foster care also need to develop what is known as 21st century skills.


Twenty-first century skills include more than mastering smart phones and tablets.  Twenty-first century skills also include what is known as the 4C’s in workforce readiness – communication, creativity/innovation, collaboration, and critical thinking.  Let me offer you (simplified) examples of enrichment activities and academic endeavors to encourage the development of 21st century skills in a teen that is good at science and loves animals.  Understand that in the real world these skills will overlap.  See below:



Volunteer at an agency that trains service dogs to help persons with disabilities  



Job shadow with a Veterinarian



Create a public service announcement against animal cruelty


Critical Thinking:

Interview college fair representatives from schools that offer Veterinary Science as a major


As you develop your life skills curriculum, enrichment activities, and mentor programs, I implore you to make a concerted effort to include both the Common Core Standards and 21st Century Skills.  Your youth are being evaluated on them. 


Contact Us to schedule a life skills workshop, training, or consultation.  We can get your youth Packaged For Success.


You May Also Want To Read: College Or The Workforce?




Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer

The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.  We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.


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Comments 2

  • I have encouraged my kids to seek out and develop a relationship with a mentor who is already working in the area that they are most interested in. This way they can they can find out if this specific career area is really suited for their abilities and what possibilities it holds for them as they move forward.

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