Are we raising kids with these 7 skills needed in the 21st century?

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“85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet and 65% of children starting school now would one day hold jobs that do not exist as of now.”

If you are a parent, does this statistic scare you?

Well, I am a mom to a two-year old and the first time I read this – I felt really tensed. I had heard of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, and from what I understood the world of the FUTURE is going to be very different from what it is today. Technology is going to develop faster and faster, making the devices and technology of today completely obsolete.

I am not really sure if our schools that haven’t changed their pedagogies since decades, barring a few improvisations in the new curricula like IB, IG, ICSE – can be solely entrusted with this grave task of preparing our kids for the FUTURE. I am not really sure if schools are equipped yet to prepare our kids for THE FUTURE.

All of these thoughts just kept making me more and more worried about what to do. Like every parent, I want the best for my daughter. I want her to become a kind, independent and intelligent person capable of doing things for herself and for the world, as she grows up.

But, can I take things into my own hands, and offer her the education she needs?

That’s when a sea of information gushed across my face – there are so many different approaches to raising kids and educating them – hundreds and thousands of activities that we can do with them to enhance their physical, cognitive, emotional and language skills!! And that’s when I realized what a daunting task, I had taken up for myself!

One day, while I was sitting, thinking about ‘this huge burden’ I had brought upon myself by challenging school education – the words of Stephen Covey struck me –

“Begin with the end in mind”

So, I thought what does the end or the future look like. All I know is that the future of my kids is going to be very different from my present. The circumstances will be very different, which I cannot predict or control. What I can do, however, is to help my daughter develop certain values and skills that will help her survive and prosper in any kind of future. That is, I must work from the inside-out! Now that sounded like a plan, something doable!

But again, what values and skills will prepare her best for the unknown future?

While I was mulling over this conundrum, I came across this amazing video – a TEDx talk by Dr. Laura Jana – And I felt I got my starting point!!

While there’s a whole lot of resources available online to tell you about the milestones our kids must achieve at each age, after watching this video – I was able to gain a more macro-level perspective on what skills I must aim at imbibing in my child so that I know I did my best to prepare her for THE FUTURE.

So, if I had to share in a nutshell what Dr. Laura Jana so powerfully yet simply shares in her TEDx talk – here’s what it is:

skills kids need in 21st century

The Skills our kids will need in the 21st century along with a few thoughts for us to ponder upon:

ME skills: these skills are everything our kids will need for Self-management like self-awareness, self-regulation, self-control over their emotions & behaviour, attention, focus.

In our times of excess and abundance, how can we best inculcate self-control and self-regulation in our kids? In this age of Youtube, Google and Social Media, when our own attention spans have reduced to a few minutes, what can we do to help our kids have better attention & focus?

WE skills: These are the people skills that allows kids to understand, share and “play well” with others using their language, empathy, listening.

These skills will be necessary for effective communication, collaboration and teamwork just like we see in our own workplaces today.

WHY skills: Most of us who’ve been close to kids when they’re around 3-5 years of age, know that this is the time when they question everything – much to the displeasure of poor adults who are expected to be equipped with all the answers.

This tells us that kids are wired for questioning, curiosity and inquisitiveness – skills which will be required to solve the problems of the future, let’s not beat that out of kids with our efforts to educate and discipline them.

WHAT IF skills: Coupled with WHY skills which help kids understand how the world works, WHAT IF skills encompass imagination, and creativity that allows them to envision how the world could be.

Can we join our kids in cooking up imaginative alternate worlds with superheroes where anything is possible?

WILL skills: As parents, we can do all we can but ultimately, self-motivation and drive including a can-do attitude, determination, persistence and perseverance is what will help our kids create and live their own future.

My grand-dad had a favourite quote – You can take the horse to the water but you cannot force it to drink.

WIGGLE skills: Physical and intellectual restlessness which has been shown as one of the key characteristics of all great men of our times, make up the WIGGLE skills.

Now, that’s good reason for us to let our kids be a little restless, and not tie them down to the chair or get them checked for ADD.

WOBBLE skills: We’ve seen those toys that wobble when hit, but they don’t fall down. Wobble skills stand for resilience, adaptability and the ability to face, overcome, and learn from failure.

As parents, rather than trying to protect our kids from every fall or failure, how can we learn to trust ourselves and our kids’ ability to fall and yet rise and move forward?

Now, think about this statistic again – “85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 haven’t been invented yet and 65% of children starting school now would one day hold jobs that do not exist as of now.”

And let’s rewind to the time when we were kids. If you were born between 1980 – 1990, did some of today’s in-demand jobs exist back then? Let’s say – Social Media Strategist, Digital Marketer, Programmer/ Coder. No, right. The computer itself was such a new thing, and in our computer classes in school, we would learn ‘Paint’! Haven’t we survived and thrived?

When you think about these skills required for the 21st century – are they any different from the skills we are expected to have as a part of today’s workforce? Not really! These are the skills that I know, (as a Soft Skills Trainer myself) are being programmed into today’s working professionals and entrepreneurs too.

The only difference between us and our kids will be that – our kids will have the advantage of being prepared before-hand, if we as parents take the initiative to imbibe these skills in them from early childhood. They won’t grapple with developing these skills as adults, like we are trying to cope today.

I am sure these skills will be the sum and result of many tiny actions me & my daughter take on a daily basis, and not some sudden phenomenon.

Well, I am glad I’ve got my starting point – my journey of exploration and experimentation begins here and my goal is to have some concrete ideas on the HOW.

As parents of toddlers and young kids what can we do? What tiny actions can we take daily to imbibe these essential skills and values in our kids and help them be prepared for their FUTURE.

Any ideas to begin with?

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