Life Skills Models

At CIC, we use LS reference models internally to help us define our curriculum, teach our lessons and use a common language for describing life skills. Two models we use come from Fernando Moreno and UNICEF.

LS MODEL #1: Fernando Moreno

In 2002, Fernando Moreno published an important book called “Teaching Life Skills Through Chess–A Guide for Educators and Counselors”, American Literary Press, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland.

Moreno understood that school counsellors needed to focus on both the academic results and the emotional needs of their students. The two could be tied together and he saw chess as a perfect tool to do that. Accordingly, by drawing from scientific studies citing the benefits of exposure to chess and by applying cognitive behavioural theory, Moreno developed his own “guidance and counselling model.” By learning the game of chess as a metaphor for life and correlating the skills needed to play good chess with the skills needed in life, both academic and social-emotional skills could be addressed. 

In his book, Moreno presented a Skills Table consisting of several cognitive skills, several emotional skills and a couple of behavioural skills. He was able to identify what are some of the key skills that chess directly develops. He was clearly interested in what playing chess could teach children about how to deal with life situations. There is no doubt in our mind that Fernando Moreno was a key contributor to the history of using chess as a tool to teach life skills.


In 2019, after years of research and scientific study, UNICEF published its LS model aimed primarily at children and youth. In the model, there are 12 essential life skills divided into 4 learning dimensions, as follows:

UNICEF says that by learning these life skills, children have a much stronger chance of achieving the four respective life outcomes of: 1. learning; 2. employability; 3. personal empowerment; and 4. active citizenship. The four life outcomes are not to be considered as distinct and mutually exclusive. Instead they overlap, inter-connect and reinforce one another to combine with the individual learner.

At CIC, we support the UNICEF LS model because we believe it’s comprehensive, logical and easy to understand. We consider the 12 life skills to be broad categories within which many individual life skills can fit. For example, some individual life skills that fit into the self-management category are: delayed gratification; positive thinking; self-awareness; keeping calm under pressure; managing stress; and patience. Below is a graphical representation of the model:

Below is a UNICEF LS Continuum Chart which identifies life skills, related age ranges, and relevance.


The UNICEF LS Continuum Chart identifies that:

Life skills are a complement and not a substitute to foundational skills like reading and mathematics and the two must be integrated rather than focused on in isolation or parallel.