Making Kids Successful Adults Through Play
By Jane Sandwood, Freelance Writer
One often overlooked aspect of a child’s development is the teaching of life skills. In contrast to most lessons that focus on academic excellence such as math and science, life skills are, according to UNICEF, the skills that a person needs in order to successfully navigate everyday life.
These skills are usually, in addition to more necessary skills such as cooking and basic house repairs, “soft skills” that aren’t necessarily focused on in the classroom. These skills include stress management, conflict resolution, being a team player, and other skills that are vital to becoming a good member of any community.
Why Life Skills?
In addition to teaching young children how to be independent and reliable, teaching them life skills benefits them in the long run by helping them in dealing with their peers, their finances, and basically surviving the real world. An often cited 2015 report by the Programme for International Student Assessment stated that 20 percent of American children are low performers when it came to financial literacy. With education becoming more and more expensive in addition to other expenses, underprepared kids may end up burying themselves more in debt as time goes on. With this in mind, preparing kids during their formative years can go a long way in making sure that they succeed once they leave school.
Tailoring it for Kids
A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that playing has an integral role in a child’s development and learning. This can be an opportunity for educators to make learning life skills fun and motivating for kids. Examples could include simulated restaurant experiences in order to teach kids proper communication via customer service, math by manning the cashier, and basic cooking by having other kids work in the kitchen. This simulation may also teach kids the importance of patience and being respectful towards those in the service industry. Simple projects that deal with tinkering and assembling things can serve as foundations for learning basic home repairs and crafts.
Schools are seen as a second home and teachers often serve as a child’s second parents. While the expectation is that life skills should be learned at home, not all parents are adept at teaching and due to working to make a living, might not even be around or have enough energy to teach their kids. This may look like an added responsibility or teachers but in the end, seeing a child succeed and be confident as they go through their lives will make it all worth it.