08 May, 2023

Why the Life Skills curriculum at Northbridge is essential for wellbeing and success

Why the Life Skills curriculum at Northbridge is essential for wellbeing and success - Why the Life Skills curriculum at Northbridge is essential for wellbeing and success
Why the Life Skills curriculum at Northbridge is essential for wellbeing and success

By Cade Sommerville
ILS Coordinator

Teenagers, including at Northbridge International School Cambodia, are at a crucial stage in their lives as they try to navigate the complexities of growing up. They are faced with the challenge of balancing academic demands, peer pressure, and family expectations, all while trying to discover their own identity and purpose in life.

Unfortunately, some teenagers today lack the necessary life skills to cope with these challenges, leading to a range of issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression. This is why there is a growing need for a curriculum that can equip teenagers with the tools they need to succeed both in school and in life.


Northbridge introduced the International Life Skills curriculum a little over five years ago to supplement the academic curriculum and approaches to learning (ATL) skills of the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme (MYP). The International Life Skills curriculum has developed each year with our students’ needs at the forefront of decision making, and it will continue to do so.

So, what exactly are life skills? The World Health Organization originally defined life skills as psychosocial and interpersonal skills that can help people make informed decisions, communicate effectively, and develop coping and self-management skills that may help lead a healthy and productive life.


Life skills include critical thinking, problem-solving, decision-making, time management, communication, and interpersonal skills. Developing these skills is crucial for personal growth, career success, and building strong relationships. Without them, individuals may struggle to achieve their goals and face difficulties in their personal and professional lives.


Each week, all students in the MYP (Grades 6 to 10) have one class of International Life Skills. Over the course of each year students explore five key themes. Having a Life Skills curriculum organised in this way, students have the opportunity to explore abstract concepts and challenging issues while developing skills that are needed to make decisions and take positive actions to change behaviours incrementally.


The five International Life Skills themes are: 

  • E-Safety and Digital Citizenship teaches students how to use technology responsibly and ethically.

  • Study Skills helps students become more effective and efficient learners, leading to better academic performance.

  • Understanding Change looks at issues surrounding identity, power, risk and responsibilities. 

  • Mental Health, Wellbeing and Relationships helps students to understand and take care of their own mental health, as well as to support others who may be struggling, and helps them develop social and emotional intelligence, which are essential for building healthy and fulfilling relationships in both personal and professional contexts. 

  • Planning Ahead ensures that students have a clear understanding of their further study and career goals and the steps they need to take to achieve them.


International Life Skills is one of many great programs on offer at Northbridge. Like the IB, we place a huge emphasis on the need for balance. A balanced education is one that goes beyond academics and includes opportunities for personal growth. Sports, arts, service learning, the LEAP program, these are all great for that.


Yet, with all the challenges facing teenagers today, a life skills curriculum is essential for their overall well-being and success.