The Apartment Content Area
The Apartment encourages youth to explore the process of becoming independent. This content area is comprised of seven units:
Click here for a complete Map of The Apartment.
Adolescence is a time when teens begin to envision what their lives will be like when they are finally on their own. The Apartment is a place where youth can explore the concept of independence, including what it means to be independent, how to remain safe and healthy, expenses and budgeting, transportation, independent living, and more. While this content area helps youth explore what it means to be independent, it also encourages them to value interdependence with others in their lives. To that end, the role of family is also included in this content area. Family may include parents, guardians, siblings, spiritual or other mentors, or anyone else who plays an ongoing support role in a young person’s life.
Youth with disabilities have additional material to engage with in The Apartment. This includes material to help youth consider their support needs when looking for a place to live, available resources when aiming to become more independent in their lives, and more.
By reading and completing online activities in The Apartment, youth will achieve the following outcomes:
- Gain knowledge and skills to help determine what level of independence is right for them.
- Understand that independence and interdependence are intertwined; youth have a significant role in creating their own futures, but can get help from others too.
- Learn how to access local transportation systems and develop alternative ways to get to and from work, home, and leisure activities.
- Learn how to budget and manage money.
- Understand how their family can support them in becoming more independent.
- Learn their preferences for an ideal living environment, and how to choose a place to live that suits their interests.
- Learn how to stay healthy and safe.
- Learn how to take better care of themselves through good hygiene practice.
- Develop goals in the above areas in their Life Map.
Activities to Assign
In addition to the reading material available in each unit, there are numerous activities you may choose to assign youth. These include questions to consider for discussion or reflection, online and hands-on activities to complete, and other Web sites to explore.
1. Lead a Discussion
When working with youth in this content area, you may want to facilitate a group discussion about the topics explored in each unit. Below we’ve provided sample discussion questions to help youth explore each unit’s topic in more depth. These questions can also be used as writing assignments for youth to reflect on a topic, either confidentially in their Private Journal, or to be shared with you as their Youthhood Guide in their Class Notebook. (Note: You have the option to view and comment on their work in the Class Notebook. See Viewing & Commenting on Entries for more information.)
- What does independence mean to you?
- What are you most excited about when you think about being independent?
- What are you most worried about when you think about beingindependent?
- What do you still need to learn when it comes to doing things independently in your life?
Discussion Questions for Family Unit
- Does your family support your goals for independence?
- How can your family help you achieve your goals?
- What skills can you practice while you’re still living at home to help you when you eventually move out (e.g., budgeting, cooking, etc.)?
- What is the most difficult thing for you to do independently at home? Why?
Discussion Questions for Transportation Unit
- How do you get around now?
- How do you plan to get around after you move out of your family’s home?
- Do you know what options you have for transportation in your community?
- What are your goals for transportation (e.g., learn how to ride the bus)?
Discussion Questions for Safety Unit
- Do you understand what to do in an emergency (e.g. fire, burglary, illness, accident, robbery or assault)?
- What can you do to prevent emergencies (e.g. smoke detectors, kitchen safety, locks on doors)?
- Do you have a plan for handling emergencies?
- Who is part of your support network that you can turn to for help in an emergency?
Discussion Questions for Finances Unit
- Do you have a checking and/or savings account? If not, do you know how to open a checking or savings account? If so, do you know how to write a check? Do you know how to balance your checkbook?
- Do you know how to use a debit card? A credit card? Do you understand how interest rates work on credit cards?
- What kinds of things do you do to save money?
- Do you know how to comparison shop? Do you know how to use coupons?
- Have you ever set up and used a budget?
Discussion Questions for Hygiene Unit
- What kinds of habits are important for basic hygiene?
- What do you do to take care of yourself (e.g., exercise, try to get enough sleep)?
- What kinds of issues do you have with regard to hygiene?
- How do you maintain your individual look and style? Do you like certain brands of clothes, products, etc? Why or why not?
- Have you thought about living on your own? Would you like to live alone, or with others?
- Where would you like to live when you finally move into your own place (e.g., in the city, in the suburbs)?
- What do you already know how to do?
- Do you know how much it costs to live on your own and what kinds of things you have to pay for (i.e., rent, utilities, groceries, renter’s insurance, etc.)?
- Have you ever signed a rental contract for an apartment or a house?
2. Assign a "Youthhood Poll"
The Youthhood homepage has a new poll question every few weeks. Youth must be logged in to vote on a poll. See About the Youthhood Poll for more information.
3. Assign "My Youthhood" Activities
Here at The Youthhood we’ve designed numerous online activities to help youth build a strong foundation of knowledge and to apply the material on the Web site to their own life. These include the Private Journal, Activities Folder, Life Map, and Class Notebook and are part of the "My Youthhood" menu youth see when they log in. See Online Activities for more information.
Click here to Preview Online Activities in The Apartment.
4. Assign Other Web Sites to Explore
There are some terrific Web sites available for youth to learn more about the topics covered in The Youthhood. You may wish to assign youth the task of exploring some of these Web sites.
Click here to Preview Web Sites Linked in The Apartment.
5. Assign Hands-On Activities
In addition to the existing materials on the site, you might create additional real-world, hands-on activities so that youth can see the concepts in action. The following are examples of hands-on activities you might assign youth in The Apartment:
- Set up scenarios to provide youth with opportunities to practice skills discussed in The Apartment.
- Help youth create a budget for everything they’ll need when they begin living independently. Provide a list of monthly expenses for youth to research and include in their budget, such as a month’s worth of rent, groceries, utilities, renters’ insurance, entertainment, gas for a vehicle or expenses for some other form of transportation, car insurance, etc. For some youth, it might be helpful to use play money to make the scenario more realistic. Discuss the real costs of living independently versus living at home with family.
- Have youth fill out a real rental agreement. Discuss what the agreement means and why it’s important to understand a legal agreement before signing it.
- Help youth practice comparison shopping. Provide a grocery list, coupons, a calculator, and a budget. Ask youth to go to the store and find items on the list. Have them compare one brand to another regarding the cost and size of the item to determine which is the better value. As they shop, have them add up the total cost to purchase these items. Provide coupons or ask youth to gather coupons for their shopping experience. Have them deduct the coupons from the total cost and see how much is saved by comparison shopping and using coupons. Discuss the concept of comparison shopping and why this is important not just with groceries, but with all purchases.
Developing a Lesson Plan
We’ve provided some tips on how you might incorporate the interactive features with the content pages and your own supplemental activities to optimize learning for youth. See Developing a Lesson Plan.
Here are additional online resources for you as the Youthhood Guide to learn more about the topics presented within each unit of The Apartment. Titles with "(PDF)" are links to PDF documents, and require Adobe Acrobat Reader (free) to download.
- Self-Determination for Middle and High School Youth (NCSET) Explores how self-determination, which results from the development of self-esteem, self-awareness, and other positive learning skills, helps children and teens learn to exercise personal control over their lives.
- Parent/Professional Collaboration (NCSET) Explores how teachers, families, and schools can collaborate to help families become and stay involved in helping their children to succeed in school and transition to jobs or postsecondary education
- Strengthening Family Relationships (Advocates for Youth) Tips and strategies for building stronger relationships with family members.