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28 Skills We Wished We Learnt At School

Does the school syllabus need a shake up? From financial budgeting, culture studies to empathy and sustainable living. These are a few skills you wish they taught in schools.

So much has changed since us parents were at school, but having lived in the ‘real world’ as adults we can’t help thinking how useful it would have been to have learnt more useful life skills at school.

Here are a few areas you wish were given more attention during our school studies:

Culture Studies
The world has changed a great deal since we were all attending school. While Geography teaches kids about different countries and where they are on the globe, it would have been great to have had more focus on the people, cultures, how they live and their language.

1. Cultures, places and people. So much of what we learned was filtered through a very western lens. This meant that we lost so much of this world’s knowledge. I’d love to have learned about other cultures for their own merits, and not how they interacted with our own. I’d love to have started intercultural communication skills early, so that differences were identified as strengths instead of weaknesses from the start. I feel like if people understood my culture, I would have avoided a lot of pain, and I’m sure if I understood other cultures better, I would have caused less, even inadvertently. Also to know more about the struggles others have gone through, even at a young age. I think it would have made me a better person today. – Bethany

2. How to speak another language properly. We only touched on the subject and came away not knowing really much at all. Being fluent and having a second language is a great life-skill to have. – Chrissy

Family Budgeting

Financial Planning
We spent all that time in Maths learning Trigonometry such as Pythagoras and no idea what we would ever use that for! I’m still clueless! So it would have been more helpful to have learned about everyday budgeting skills so we can do family financial planning and our taxes etc.

3. Financial literacy. I wish they had expanded more on how taxes, interest rates, family budgets and how mortgages works. Sure they’re still young but they need to know what money can do. – Yenne

Sustainable Living
Our lives have already contributed in the change of the environment in some way. So it would be beneficial for the Earth and generations to come if we are more mindful of our surroundings and what we use, waste and recycle. Let’s go back to basics!

4. Managing resources for life including money, personal goods and in general recycling, reusing and reducing waste for life using life practices modelled through home lifestyles. – Tamandelle

5. Taught how to live a sustainable lifestyle. I was lucky to learn some at home, but others around me at school weren’t so lucky. There many places to start with small children and they can make a massive difference to our future environment. From growing your own edible garden tocooking from scratch and up-cycling. – Norinda

6. Growing my own fruit and veg properly (I do try!). With prices soaring, quality dropping and goodness knows what being sprayed on our fruit and veg, I desperately want my daughter to be able to eat truly healthy food (that is also affordable on one income). – Melanie

Magnet Letters

Social Skills
I’m sure most of us are pretty good in this department, as at least we spoke face-to-face, which most kids don’t do as much thanks to social media these days. But the everyday still provides us with tricky social situations, so learning to navigate these areas and develop better emotional intelligence and awareness would aid us more in difficult communication situations.

7. Negotiation skills – Both in the workplace and at home! – Melanie

8. How to read people – not just what they say but their body language. It’s a great skill in business. – Laura

9. I wish I’d learnt more about dealing with difficult people – the kind of people who behave badly by almost everyone’s standards, but somehow seem to get away with it. – Lorraine

10. Social skills; how to be less shy, how to speak up in public, how to voice out my opinion without the fear of being judged. I also wish I had learnt more about foreign cultures. – Preety

11. I think a class called “life skills” or some such would have been useful. Covering topics like many that have already been listed like Mindfulness and Financial management of a personal budget and of course growing veggies but also things like interpersonal skills like how to give critical feedback and deal with bullies and also I think some dating advice wouldn’t have gone astray…a core subject at uni for me was “interpersonal skills and processes” and to this day it has been the single most valuable unit of my tertiary education. – Casey

There are some many monumental moments in life that require us to be brave, patient, confident and strong. Need we say more?

12. I wish I had learned public speaking in school. I was always a shy kid and still don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a large group of people, even if they are all family and friends. It would have been a huge help with job interviews as well. – Maree

13. To stand up to bullies, as I’m now 54 and still get bullied by people. – Kathy

14. Empathy. This can help us build better quality relationships and make society a better place. Danes are actively taught empathy in school. In some schools, the students regularly meet with teachers to discuss their problems and collaboratively come up with solutions, taking others’ feelings into consideration. – En

15. To be more outgoing and ask questions, it is good to learn later in life but I would have got on a lot better if I had that knowledge sooner. – Moyra

16. How to deal with loss or disappointments because everyone has them and not everyone deals with them well. – Elizabeth

17. Resilience, it would have saved me many times from feelings of self doubt, worth and being. – Mary

Learning more about mental health and how to look after ourselves through tough times is something to keep in mind for future educational focus to help everyone’s future wellbeing.

18. More on finding what makes you happy. Not just the educational perspective, but more time to explore arts, travel or other non traditional learning. It would set you up earlier in life for adult happiness, and not just the focus on being ‘successful’. – Tess

19. We need to place more importance on emotional wellbeing and holistic health. So many people experience mental health issues related to poor emotional health. – Lauren

20. Relaxation, meditation, and yoga. Being able to relax is a very important life skill, especially in this day and age when people are busier than ever. – Lousie

21. Mindfulness – Emma

22. An appropriate way to deal with emotions. That emotions were ok, and that the elusive ‘happy’ is not a constant state of mind and that life happens no matter how hard to try to feel happy all the time. Feeling shame for the human condition is unfair to put on a child. – Kate

23. The value of self-love and self-care – Gonca


We thought that this one would be at the top of everyone’s list, but looks like we are all pretty techno savvy, but would be happy to brush up on a few new skills.

24. With the advent of technology, I so wish I had learn how to type correctly. I’d also like to know more about economics, both essential life skills in today’s world! – Heather

25. Coding, it’s the way of our future and I wish I could teach my kids so they get a head start. – Cheryl

Words of Wisdom
We had to finish with some uplifting words that we thought our younger selves would have liked to have heard.

26. There is more to life than just graduating, going to uni, getting a job, a car, a house, etc. There is so much more that I hope my children get to experience throughout their lives – the world is a big, exciting place. – Bec

27. That grades aren’t the be all and end all of life. There are many other factors that help us succeed in life than just test results. – Karin

28. School was to not introduced to teach us skills but rather to teach how to find the right place to solve any given problem. There is no better place to start than the library so that would be the most important initial life skill. – Rosemary

Is there anything you would like to add to the list? Feel free to leave a comment.

Thanks to our lovely Facebook community for sharing some of these topics with us.

Why not brush up on some of these skills on the CHILD Magazines website? We have lots of stories on  technology, mindfulness, self-care, mental health, coping with bullying and words of wisdom.

Words by Jenna Templeton // Photography by Kelli Tunga, Jason Leung, Javier Quesada