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Any online classes which can replace Living Skills?

Original post made by Mom of a Paly kid, Community Center, on Jan 5, 2012

My son is a Paly sophomore who is taking music and language so he doesn't have any room for electives. Next year, when he finally has room in his schedule for an elective, he's like to take an AP class. Unfortunately, he still needs to take Living Skills. We travel in the summer so summer school is not an option. Does anyone know if there are any other classes available that can give kids the same credit as Living Skills? In our old school district this was possible.

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Comments (11)

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

Why don't you talk with the Paly administration? If anyone is going to know - it would be them!

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Posted by former Paly parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I commend your son for his highly worthwhile activities that I am sure are meaningful to him. I don't know what you can do, but you are right to try to avoid Living Skills - my kids disliked this class (I have multiple kids and there was experience with both the summer version and the semester-long regular year version). It is incredible that this course was so awful and stressful (and I saw peers who shared this reaction -- these students are now in a variety of major universities fyi--) as well as a waste of their time. The IDEA of "living skills" is wonderful, however. FYI we are out of the school but do realize experiences can vary based on year one took/will take this course, the instructor, and so on, so I don't want to completely diss this course, however you are ENTIRELY correct that your son's emphasis should be prioritized and I recommend you work towards that. Good luck. Realize PALY school administration has changed drastically for anyone living even a decade in this city (!)so I do not want to give any impression of criticizing current PALY administration (or even some of the past). However, if they still have the teacher advisor system and IS (instructional supervisor) system, which may affect inquiries such as yours, be aware many did not find that in any way optimum by comparison to dozens we have known at other high schools...

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 7, 2012 at 10:03 am

Living Skills is required for graduation (and at Paly, one of the 2 teachers is a person to avoid at all costs...) I believe at least the summer school version was offered online last year. In addition to Living Skills class, students must take a CPR class to pass Living Skills and graduate.

In theory, its a good idea. In practice, the class is mostly a waste of time and a class period. Lots of kids take is senior year - many seniors don't take a 7 period class load.

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Posted by Experienced Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

Living Skills online is offered to Juniors and Seniors only but the students still have to be in town because they have to attend class twice per week.

15 hours of community service is due by the end of class also so plan ahead or student will be fretting about where to complete the 15 hours within the 4 weeks of summer school class (they have a list on the Paly website). I think you can do the community service within 6m of the start of class, but check on that.

Students also have to take the CPR class - not sure if it has to be taken during the time enrolled for the class or not.

I agree that the class has good intentions and there is some valuable information that students won't learn at home or on their own (sex & drugs info, compassion) but they could easily condense the information and find another way to teach the students the most important info - like a one-week summer school class instead. It's too time-consuming for our students who have little time these days.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

Good reminder about the community service aspect. I think when I was in high school, we had a similar "class" that took about 2 weeks and was part of our PE curriculum.

Like this comment
Posted by Experienced Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Palo Alto mom: Excellent idea! They could have them run a lap and learn Living Skills. My student says kids don't have their heart in the Living Skills class anyway because it's taking up time during summer or taking the place of an elective during the year. It's a class that kids just want to get over with to fulfill the requirement. My child thinks that more students would have a better attitude towards it during P.E.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I agree that this class is a waste of time regardless whether it is in summer school or the semester class.

The theory of having this class is great, but apart from learning about contraception, STDs, CPR and the community service, they don't learn much about life skills. I would like to see the class completely revamped and teach them about how to file taxes, buy a car, manage a bank account, get a job, dress for success, and many other life skills they will need to learn and are not covered in school. Some students learn these skills at home but many parents are not able to do some of these life skills themselves which means many kids are not getting the lesson. How about making this class relevant. Oh, and no more baby dolls coming home either.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 8, 2012 at 12:34 pm

The auto teacher taught this class for a while and he taught the kids how to change a tire! Great idea! Instead of spending so much time on sex related issues (I don't think we have a rampant teen pregnancy issue in palo alto), I agree with Resident that more important skills should be covered.

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2012 at 6:32 am

The Living Skills class is a complete waste of time. There is no new information presented in the class that students have not encountered repeatedly during their earlier curriculum in middle school.
We worry about the stress level for our high school students, and then we burn up a class period with a worthless requirement.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

I'd rather they have a semester long class to work on college essays and college apps, that would do more for most students "lives".

Like this comment
Posted by Experienced Mom
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 18, 2012 at 10:17 am

@palo alto mom: couldn't make that a requirement since not all students have college intentions.

With the rigor of college admissions these days, however, I agree the class should be discontinued and info placed in P.E. instead. The CPR could be part of the first year science/biology requirement.

The 15-hour community service requirement, however, could still be a graduation requirement. I felt that stuffing food bags at food banks was a good learning experience.

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