image of map markers with stops along the way including friends, graduation, health, home, work, and transportation

Exploring Independent Living Skills

Independent living skills are what you need to take charge of and direct your own life. You need these skills to be successful in your job and in your personal life.

Pick a skill below to find out more and try a challenge!


Good communication skills are important in just about any setting. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an interview, shopping at a store, taking a class, working, or just hanging out with friends, there are some skills you need to have to be successful.

image of teens with one teen leading a group discussion

Communication Tips

  • Practice just listening
  • Don't interrupt
  • Watch your body language
  • Have good eye contact
image of teen meeting with medical doctor

  • Show respect
  • Put away distractions - yes, that includes your phone
  • Prepare for important conversations
image of teen on the job talking with supervisor
  • Be brief but specific
  • Ask questions and repeat the other person
  • Welcome feedback
  • Be friendly

Communication Challenge!

Ask a teacher for some help in person. If you don’t need help, just talk to a teacher.

  • Try asking a question to start the conversation.
  • Talk with a trusted adult about this conversation.
  • What was difficult for you?
  • What was easy?
  • What would you do differently next time you have to talk to someone you aren’t necessarily comfortable with?

Time Management

How do you manage your time? Do you have a schedule? Do you plan ahead? Here are some things for you to try if you need some help with time management.
Image of a clock reflection time management

Time Management Tips

  • Use a calendar
  • Set goals
  • Set your priorities
  • Break it down into small steps
  • Get plenty of sleep and stay healthy
  • Schedule time for yourself

Time Management Challenge!

Plan out your week using whatever calendar tool you want. You can use your phone, a paper calendar, or make your own.

Include all the things you have to do, time for fun, tasks you want to accomplish, and rest. Show it to a trusted adult and talk about what you learned from doing this challenge.

Managing Your Money

If you haven’t earned and spent your own money before, now’s the time to start! Wouldn’t it be great to have your own money to pay your bills, save, and treat yourself to something without having to ask someone else for money?

Here are some of the basics of managing your money. You can read more about managing your money in the resource section.

Image of youth saving money for college, computer, sports, vacations, or car

Money Tips

  • Start making some money
  • Open your own bank account
  • Get a debit card
  • Set some goals
  • Write down your needs vs wants
  • Save some money
  • Protect your privacy

Money Challenge!

Make a list of things you need to buy every week versus things you want. Choose 1 thing you want versus need. Instead of buying the thing you want, save that money instead.

Write down what you might save up to do with that money. How does saving make you feel? Talk with someone you trust about your savings goals and ideas.

Getting Around

How do you get from place to place? You might take the bus, the train, a taxi, bike, walk, or even drive yourself. Maybe you’re getting rides from someone everywhere you go. It’s time to be more independent and learn to get around in your community on your own. Here are a few ideas to try.
Image of city of the future - self-driving cars

Getting Around Tips

  • Learn about the bus system
  • Find out about taxis or other ride services
  • Have you traveled by train?
  • Where can you walk or ride a bike instead of taking a vehicle? Ask your family for ideas.
  • Are you planning to drive? Talk to your family about whether this is an option for you.

Getting Around Challenge!

Try out a new way of getting to where you want go. Consider the options above or one that is not included (flying?). Make sure to ask for advice from your family, teacher, or counselor.

Keeping It Clean!

How do you manage your time? Do you have a schedule? Do you plan ahead? Here are some things for you to try if you need some help with time management.
Images of personal hygiene - showering, soap, hand wahsing, etc.

Keeping It Clean Tips

  • Shower daily
  • Wash your hair and keep it neat
  • Brush your teeth every day
  • Wear clean clothes and shoes that fit
  • Use deodorant or antiperspirant
  • Understand your body. Ask someone you trust about changes you notice.

Keeping It Clean Challenge!

Go shopping in your closet for an outfit you could wear to an interview or to work. Discuss the outfit with a trusted adult. Are there things you need to buy to complete your look? Figure out where you’ll shop and what your budget is.

Finding a Job

If you’re looking for a job, there are a lot of places you can turn to for help. Here are some tips for how to go about finding a job:
Image with Job Search cloud in the middle with arrows pointing to goals, search, skills, interview, application, career, and qualifications

Job Search Tips

  • Ask people you know - they are your network!
  • Look around your community
  • Use the internet
  • Look in the newspaper
  • Don't forget to write or update your resume

Job Search Challenge!

Do some research and find a few local places that are hiring. Talk with a trusted adult about what kinds of skills you might need to do that job. What challenges might you face if you were to get hired for a job?

Community Resources

Your VR counselor, school counselor, and support network (friends and family) are excellent resources for you. But, as you become more independent, you will need to know how to find other resources in your community.
Image of a colorful community

Ways to explore your community resources...

  • Try a new activity connected to something you like to do - art, music, sports, food, reading...
  • Make an appointment yourself for your next doctor, dentist, hair cut, etc.
  • Volunteer at your school, church or other community event

Community Resource Challenge!

Check out one local resource in your community. What kind of resource is it and how could it benefit you? Talk with a trusted adult about what you learned and how you might use that resource in the future.