Developing life skills in children


Stuti Roy works as the Head of Department, English (Primary Wing) at Billabong High International School, Noida. She has completed her Masters in Psychology from University of Madras and Bachelors in Education from Delhi University. Stuti is an avid writer and her articles have been published in different books and journals. She approaches language as a wonderful medium of expression and focuses on a teaching learning transaction integrated with Blooms, MI Theory and Brain Research Theory. Recently, she was awarded the Lighthouse Learning Educator’s Impact Award 2021 for the Best Teacher in the Pre-Primary and Primary category.

 

Ms Mary Thomas entered the classroom and saw Sia and Ria, her students labelling and abusing each other. She intervened and came to know that they had got into a disagreement and loathed each other. Ms Thomas gave each of them a bag of berries and told them to always keep it with themselves. This continued for over one week. Both the girls were exasperated carrying that bag as the berries had begun to rot. They approached their teacher and told her that they were then exhausted carrying that rotten bag.


This kind of situation is more than usual in a peer group. So how would a teacher handle?


She very politely told both the girls, “You both can’t bear to carry these rotten, stinking, bag of berries. So how are you able to carry on that disgust and hatred for each other? The girls understood, became friends and over a period of time, developed love and respect for each other.


Every day of our lives is a new lesson. If you learn the lesson well and apply it; whether positive or negative, you determine what happens in your tomorrow.


Values or life skills are like seeds that sprout, become saplings, soar high to touch the sky spreading their wings.


One cannot acquire the basic values in a day or two. They need to be built. Building values and life skills is somewhat similar to building a house, brick by brick. The four most important building blocks for life skills are the individual itself, family, community and the society.


Life skills can’t be taught in isolation as a subject, rather woven into different aspects of the curricula. Current 21st-century generation indicates that our future citizens need to be multi-literate, creative and innovative. Learning is a complex system of interactive processes. There is no recipe for it. But yes!! We expect a good product.


It is very vital for the children to be prepared for the ever-emerging changes and trends. To be able to adapt to new situations, working collaboratively, thinking out of the box, using failures as learning milestones are important skills the learners should have to succeed in future.


Most individuals do not think of the need for being aware of ‘SELF’. And most often, we do not pay attention on understanding our own strengths and weakness and the opportunities available and ahead of us.



School curriculum should incorporate strategies that require higher-level thinking skills such as inference, prediction, analysis and critical thinking. With the use of critical thinking strategies, students develop skills such as reasoning, questioning and investigating, observing and describing, comparing and connecting, finding complexity, and exploring viewpoints. Problem solving is an important element of all content areas.


The key areas of life skills can be identified as -

• decision-making and problem-solving

• creative thinking

• critical thinking

• communication and interpersonal skills

• self-awareness and empathy

• assertiveness

• resilience and coping with stress


To help children with life skills, schools should emphasize on ‘Growth Mindsets’. When this is integrated into daily practice, a child starts to enjoy learning. They understand that progress takes time and they keep trying until they succeed. This helps them achieve success and gain confidence as they grow. The students don’t hesitate to ask for help, they are ready to put efforts and love taking new challenges. The children are no more afraid of failures and view mistakes as opportunities and stepping stones.


Inculcation of simple responsibilities of simple chores like laying or clearing the table, preparing their bags and uniforms before school can help children imbibe life skills like empathy, self-awareness, problem solving, decision making and effective communication.


Life skills can be integrated with both curricular and co-curricular activities.


Social Sciences promote positive values like safety and welfare, civic sense, sense of belongingness to the nation and the society and decision making through topics like secularism and democracy.


Imparting of life skills through languages fosters love, tolerance and spirit of enquiry.


The woods are lovely dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.


The above lines by Robert Frost stand as an epitome of motivation to work incessantly without ceasing to distractions.


Science is a subject equated with facts, experiments and intense knowledge. Developing scientific temperament is the main aim here which eventually springs up sensitivity, stability and consistency.


Mathematics points out attention, precision, accuracy and harmony. Without accuracy, a triangle would not look like a triangle. Teachers can often relate their topics to real life situations to teach value and respect for money.


Performing Arts develop creative and critical thinking skills. It is said that even a painting can speak a hundred words. It reflects on the spiritual, emotional and intellectual aspects.


Self-awareness and interpersonal communication allow students to best use their skills in group work. Group projects at school are a good way to learn teamwork, decision-making and empathy.


Drama, dance, music and art not only allow students to channelize but also experience and identify emotions. These days yoga, sports and meditation are increasingly becoming a part of the school curriculum. This aids in managing stress and increase concentration.


Sports and games also help in imbibing critical thinking, self-awareness and effective communication. Thus schools today have all the tools to aid holistic learning.


During transaction of life skills education, students should be actively involved in a dynamic teaching-learning process. The emphasis should be on 'experiential learning' because life skills cannot be learnt in abstract and theoretical way.


There can be no conclusion to this vast area but yes…The take away could be ‘Take Responsibility of self, others and your own actions’.


This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine October 2021 edition.