Mountain Village Foundation
Importance of Teaching Children Soft Skills
“It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin
In today's world, change is inevitable. In-order to be successful in this ever-changing world, you have to continuously keep learning and acquiring new skills. These skills could be hard skills like videography, computers, coding etc. or soft skills like effective communication, presentation, critical thinking and creativity. Both these types of skills are equally important but in the job market today, along with having hard skills, employers are looking for individuals who have recognisable soft skills. The reason why this is so, is because soft skills form a foundation through which you can also pick up a hard skill. Also, soft skills are something that cannot be replaced by technology and automation.
How many of you were taught soft skills when you were in school? Maybe some of you had the rare opportunity to understand and acquire, them but most people who studied in a traditional school setting, did not have access to such learning and so they did not pick up these skills. If someone was responsible or had leadership qualities, they would be made the school captain but no one was taught how to prepare for or learn these qualities.
What are soft skills?
These are skills that help students grow and succeed in life in a holistic way. Along with acquiring academic content, children also learn how to think creatively, share their original opinions and ideas after careful analysis and learn how to work with a diverse team. This enables them to get ready for the 21st century world. Some of the soft skills include:
● Critical thinking skills
● Problem solving skills
● Taking initiative
● Effective communication
● Presentation skills
● Ability to work in teams
● Active Listening
Imagine a school where students have access to learning these skills. Won’t they do well in any career they choose? These skills might be intangible and subjective in nature, unlike a lot of the academic content, but they are equally, if not more important than simple academic learning.
Why is it important to acquire soft skills?
Everyone must acquire soft skills but here are the five reasons why soft skills should be taught to children from a young age:
● Dependency of future jobs on soft skills: Organizations in the future will require their employees to have strong communication skills and presence of mind, who can come up with new and creative ideas every now and then. Employers are now looking for “solutionaries” and unless you have been exposed to finding solutions and taking initiative from a young age, it will be challenging to acquire these skills as you get older.
● Acts as a catalyst to learn hard skills: In order for you to learn hard skills, you need certain soft skills that can be a catalyst for learning. For example, if you want to learn computers and if you are good at working in teams, you can easily reach out to different people who can help you to learn the skill faster.
● Prepares you to work in teams: As mentioned by the famous athlete Michael Jordan “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” In today's world, teams include multidisciplinary and global players. Problem solving is a key aspect of teams coming together as challenges spread across the global arena. This makes it important for children to learn soft skills like collaboration and communication from a young age, so they feel ready to work with diverse groups of people, when they are older.
● Soft skills set you apart: to learn soft skills is not as easy as to learn hard skills as it depends completely on your nature rather than your knowledge.
It is also a slow process which develops in the course of time. Having soft skills enables you to cope better with challenges that you could face around you.
● Knowing yourself better: Soft skills like, self-awareness and reflection can help you to understand strengths and areas to improve. It supports a person in knowing themselves and their needs better.
MVF promotes teaching children soft skills from an early age and the main skills that we focus on are:
Critical thinking to solve problems: This skill enables students observe, collect, analyse and evaluate data to so as to take consistent action towards solving a problem /improving on an idea.
Communication: This skill helps to effectively share /convince/ inspire/ motivate /persuade individuals to understand an idea in order to take steps to move closer to the desired goal.
Creativity: This is a skill which will enable students to approach an idea/ solution to a problem through multiple lenses and approaches based on their personal belief /outlook.
Collaboration: This skill enables students to influence and organize different stakeholders to take consistent actions towards a common goal.
How you too can incorporate these soft skills in your daily lessons?
Here are four effective ways to build soft skills into the daily lessons
● Encourage students to find solutions to real life problems: Motivate the students to observe their immediate environment and the challenges that affect them or their community. Encourage them to come up with ideas and probable solutions with the help of their experiences.
● Motivate students to use different modes of communication:
Ask students to present their ideas/views in different forms like posters, skits, poems etc. It’s a simple and engaging way for students to also discover their interests and talents.
● Organize as many team activities as possible: Encourage students to work in teams by utilising each other’s strengths to complete group tasks and appreciate the efforts being made by each team member. This holds true as Booker T Washington says, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.”
● Celebrate soft skills: If you want students to work on their soft skills, make sure you make it a priority and students are celebrated for when they show responsibility, lead a team, give creative ideas, etc.
While using all these ideas in our interactions with children and we have seen the students grow in a holistic way. They have been able to understand their own strengths and value those of others. If you include this learning, into your school curriculum you will make the classes interesting and engage students better, making them productive learners. As we have pointed out earlier, acquiring soft skills is a slow and continuous process but as they say “Practice makes man perfect.” So, create a soft-skill focused learning environment for your students and see how they flourish.