Life skills have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Skills that function for well-being and aid individuals to develop into active and productive members of their communities are considered as life skills. Educators are increasingly supporting the development of life skills, in addition to academics, in order to enable students to function effectively in society. Teachers sometimes describe these skills as “learning to learn skills” which can be developed through intentional daily activities.
Life skills go hand in hand with development and can help your child succeed later in life.
In the book, “Mind in the Making,” Ellen Galinsky, a leading authority on child development issues, organized the essential life skills that children need to be well-rounded, ready for school, and life.
What Are the Most Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn?
- Focus And Self Control: Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibly and exercising self control. Children thrive onschedules, habits, and routines, which not only create a feeling of security, but also help children learn self-control and focus.
- Perspective Taking: Perspective taking goes far beyond empathy in that it involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’, teachers’, and friends’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts. Thinking about another’s point of view doesn’t come naturally to most children, but it can be developed by making observations with children about how others are feeling.
- Communication: Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing – it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. Children need to build healthy social-emotional skills, including the ability to understand and communicate with others. Children need to learn how to “read” social cues and listen carefully. They must consider what they want to communicate and the most effective way to share it.
- Making Connections: Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting these things into categories. Making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. True learning occurs when we can see connections and patterns between seemingly disparate things. The more connections we make, the more sense and meaning we make of the world. Young children begin to see connections and patterns as they sort basic household items like toys and socks. Simple acts, such as choosing clothing appropriate for the weather, helps them build connections.
- Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions, and actions. We live in a complex world in which adults are required to analyze information and make decisions about myriad things every day. One of the best ways to build critical thinking is through rich, open-ended play. Make sure your child has time each day to play alone or with friends. Through play, children formulate hypotheses, take risks, try out their ideas, make mistakes, and find solutions—all essential elements in building critical thinking.
- Taking On Challenges: Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them do better in school and in life. One of the most important traits we can develop in life is that of resilience—being able to take on challenges, bounce back from failure, and keep trying. Children learn to take on challenges when we create an environment with the right amount of structure—not so much as to be limiting, but enough to make them feel safe. Encourage your child to try new things and allow reasonable risk, such as climbing a tree or riding a bike. Offer a new challenge when she seems ready.
- Self-Directed, Engaged Learning: It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live—as long as we learn. A child who loves learning becomes an adult who is rarely bored in life. To encourage a love of learning, try to limit television and encourage plenty of reading, play, and open-ended exploration.
Bluebee Pals are excellent educational tools that can easily be incorporated in the classroom or at home to help model and build age-appropriate essential life skills. Use one-on-one or invite a Bluebee Pal into life skills learning or peer groups to practice skills. Paired with story books and educational apps, Bluebee Pals offer children a special learning friend who makes life skills practice fun…and therefore, more meaningful. By “speaking” the audio in connected apps, a Bluebee Pal adds just the right touch of warmth and humanity to motivate children. Just connect your Bluebee Pal and get started!https://www.bluebeepals.com
A few examples of apps that can be used to help develop essential life skills:
First Then Visual Schedule HD by Good Karma Applications, Inc allows you to create first-then boards, visual schedules, task analyses, social stories, choice boards, and video models, and even has a timer for task completion.
Peppy Pals Family Play Bundle by Peppy Pals AB is a set of three apps featuring engaging animal friends that enables children to learn and explore emotions in an relaxing, interactive environment while developing emotional intelligence.
Peppy Pals Sammy Helps Out by Peppy Pals AB is an interactive storybook about collaboration, emotions, and friendship.
Peppy Pals Social Skills by Peppy Pals AB features gender-neutral animals in story scenarios as they take care of each other and solve problems. Helps build social emotional skills such as self-esteem, resilience, empathy, problem-solving, managing emotions, managing stress, and creating healthy relationships.
10 Ways – a Social Skills Game by Everyday Speech LLC teaches through a familiar game format with categories of questions that include conversation skills, perspective taking, asking and answering questions, friendship skills, and more.
Categories Learning Center by Smarty Ears fosters categorization skills by sorting similar and dissimilar items, placing objects in the correct category, naming members of given categories and identifying which category name a group of objects belongs in.
Thinkrolls by AVOKIDDO is an addictive, award-winning logic, brain power, and problem solving app for kids that uses mazes to master the art of thinking. Provides for penalty-free and stress-free trial and error problem solving.
Thinkrolls Space by AVOKIDDO continues in the fashion of Thinkrolls but with an outer space theme and more puzzles.
My PlayHome by PlayHome Software Ltd is an interactive doll house for boys and girls that offers free, open-ended exploration and play.