Think of life skills as the building blocks or framework that allow students to apply the knowledge they acquire in school to real world problems and situations. Also referred to as “soft skills” in a professional context, the ability to think abstractly and approach problems from multiple angles to find practical solutions, and the skill to communicate clearly and effectively are just as important as technical knowledge in a particular field or academic subject.
According to Macmillan Education, “In a constantly changing environment, having life skills is an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everyday life. The dramatic changes in global economies over the past five years have been matched with the transformation in technology and these are all impacting on education, the workplace, and our home life.”
But life skills go well beyond choosing a major in college or impressing a potential employer in the future. Life skills provide children with important tools for development, such as independent thinking, how to socialize and make new friends, and how to take action in situations where their parents or teachers may not be around to help or intervene (dealing with a bully or personal insecurities and fears, for example.) Unlike motor skills and basic intelligence, executive function and decision-making skills are not innate but learned.
Parents can take an active role in teaching life-skills at home with projects that provide real world examples and lessons in decision making and problem solving. They can be as simple as assigning household chores and budgeting exercises through an allowance, to caring for a pet or volunteering in the community.
Fun and simple-to-organize activities, like game nights (or afternoons) with family and friends with an educational focus that also encourage working in teams, can help to build social and interpersonal skills.The benefits of reading to young children and fostering a reading habit early in a child’s life are hard to overstate. From building and strengthening vocabulary and language skills to aiding with creative thinking, reading is one of the easiest and best activities available to teach children a range of new skills.
The acquisition of problem-solving and reasoning abilities is a fluid and ongoing process, and working with children early in their development to lay the framework with examples that they can understand and apply on their own is a good place to start.
If you would like your child’s education to include more life skills, consider enrolling them in a public school at home via online learning. As your child’s Learning Coachyou can ensure a well-rounded education that you can supplement with plenty of real world skills!