“Give a man a Fish – You will feed him for one day . Teach a man to fish – You will feed him for life”
This proverb can be most appropriate to differentiate between academic education and life skills education. Academic education aims to impart knowledge and prepare students for their careers but life skill training is aimed at children’s overall development and preparing them for life’s challenges and making them responsible citizens . Students spend their formative years in schools and the minds can be both vulnerable and receptive and so the students will be at cross roads, so to say. Effective life skill training during this phase can actually mould the children’s mind into a healthy personality well prepared for life’s challenges resulting from a dynamic and complex environment.
Life skills is defined by World Health Organization, WHO as “ the abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enables the individual to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life”. There are 10 life skills as identified by WHO and categorized as
- Thinking Skills
- Social Skills
- Emotional Skills
THINKING SKILLS :
The skills are latent already in most children. The challenge is to unleash the skill and help children recognize that they have it. Then the children can use the skills to accomplish their goals, small and big. In this context, we can recall a simple example of how a child turns all the multi colored and multi shaped blocks out of the bag and on the floor before starting to build a castle. Clearly, here the child is in fact preparing the thought process. Thought process could be rational or intuitive and both have their own significance in lives. But how can we help children discover and hone these latent talent .There are several ways –
- Encourage children to ask questions at every step of their growing and not force them to accept things blindly. This develops rational thinking
- Assign them work of art to be created from inexpensive things or articles lying at home. This can hone creative thinking.
- Use negative situations in storytelling to develop problem solving skills to help them think resourcefully.
- Organize simple team competitions in informal settings involving decision making and ask them to justify their decisions. This will improve both team work and decision making skills.
- Encourage them to work within time frame so they consciously avoid negative procrastination skills.
SOCIAL SKILLS :
The simple “golden rule “of Social skill is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The Mosaic Law contains a parallel commandment: “Whatever hurts you, do not do to any other person.” Social skills are very important to make them good human beings and responsible citizens. These skills need to be nurtured at a very young age because negative social habits die hard and very difficult to overcome in older age.
Here are some examples of building social skills that can make or break personality development.
- Get them involved in NGO activity or even spend some time in less privileged environment so children learn to empathizeand also count their blessings .
- Encourage making and sustaining healthy friendships so that they learn to live in an inclusive environment and develop interpersonal and communication skills.
- Making them enact roles of parents, teachers, siblings will help them understand better the value of love,affection and tolerance .
“Emotional skills refers to a child’s ability to deal with, manage, express and control his or her emotional states, including anger, sadness, excitement, anxiety and joy. Emotional self-regulation is an important aspect of resiliency “ .These are the skills that shape mental strength of the Children and help them to react in a balanced and rational way even in negative and challenging situations. Here are some ways to build a strong and resilient emotional quotient.
- Impart Stress Management techniques.
- Guide them not to suppress emotions but express them in a morally acceptable way.
- Avoid jealousy, hatred and violence.
Worldwide, educational institutions are adapting curriculum to National Life skills education policy but the students should also make an effort to make the best use of opportunities provided by Schools and Colleges. After all, they will benefit from it all through their life’s journey at every stage as they transition from College to Careers and to family life, alongside.
Written by Asha Sampath