Tanglin's Lifeskills curriculum is centred on positive education principles; children are taught valuable skills that help strengthen relationships, build positive emotions and encourage self-care, engagement, accomplishment and purpose. Subject matter progresses through the year groups to support children in becoming independent citizens who will make a positive contribution to the world ahead of them.
In the rapidly evolving dynamics of a class, year group and the wider world, Lifeskills is a curriculum area that can quickly respond to address topical issues. Subjects such as relationships, healthy eating, relaxation techniques, and digital citizenship are covered in a way that is most relevant to the age group and their immediate experiences, while building their resilience going forward. Equally, practical skills such as cooking, bike care, sewing, first aid and study skills give students age-appropriate, real-world competencies they can use now or apply in the future.
Beatrice, Year 10, gives a little more insight into a recent Lifeskills project that is as topical as it is transferable:
Lifeskills is all about learning skills we may need for the future while keeping one eye on current events. Therefore, it seems only fitting that we should learn something to do with Covid-19, given how it has dominated our lives for the past year.
Our mask-making project aimed to teach us the basics of sewing, including how to cut out fabric, follow a pattern and sew a running stitch. These skills are helpful for practical day-to-day tasks, such as sewing a button on a shirt, while the project as a whole showed us how a seemingly complex task can be broken down into easy steps – a definite life skill!
Through four lessons we learnt how to hand sew a mask in five simple steps, as follows:
- Cut out two pieces of fabric, following a pattern (easily sourced online) and sew them together, making sure the fabric is facing inward.
- Repeat the process with a lining fabric, which will become the second layer.
- Place the two pieces of fabric together, both facing inward.
- Sew the top and bottom together, leaving the sides apart.
- Finally, turn the mask inside out, so the pattern is facing outward, put the elastic in the sides and sew them closed.
It was amazing how straightforward the whole process was (although it would have been easier using a sewing machine!), taking around four hours to finish. It was also cost-effective; the variety of materials used came to a total of around $5.
The most difficult part was hand-sewing the two pieces of fabric together, as it was a new experience for many of us. When I overcame the challenging parts, it certainly gave me a sense of accomplishment; I can now wear my own designs and I am looking forward to using my new-found skill in the future.
I recommend learning a life skill such as this to anyone, whatever age, as it is useful, environmentally friendly and an absorbing task. A homemade mask also feels better than a shop-bought one as you can fit it to your face and choose your own pattern. You could even make a mask for someone else – a great way to show off your new skills and give someone a thoughtful gift! My advice is to not be afraid of asking for help; we all get stuck sometimes especially when learning something new. My classmates would definitely recommend trying it too:
"The lessons were very educational and I enjoyed the process of learning. I think sewing is a great skill to have and considering the current pandemic, it is a very relevant topic as well"
"It is not only a fitting thing to do during these times but it also teaches us very important skills, which we will need in the future. These past few weeks we have learnt how to cut, stitch, knot and more. I am very proud of my class and myself and I know that these skills will help us in the near future. Also, the masks were quite stylish in the end!"
"I really enjoyed learning how to sew masks in Lifeskills. It was a fun, relaxing experience that taught me useful skills I'll be able to use in the long run"