Why Life skills training are an important part of Curriculum

“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: 

“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

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How the Educational Ecosystem can help Stress Management of today’s Millenials

Stress can be a positive and enjoyable factor  if it challenges  students’  limits and stimulates them to do better . On the other hand,  excessive stress beyond a point , can be a highly detrimental factor if it reaches a point of pressure and conflict due to several factors  physical, mental and social. But, how do we identify this optimum point and what role does the Educational ecosystem play in helping the millennials cope with  stress during the formative years of their lives as a student.

The external environment is such a highly competitive landscape today that it sometimes deprives even the Generation Y of a carefree and enjoyable journey towards adulthood. Inevitably, even as they enter this world , the peer competition spirit sets in consciously or unconsciously. And in the growing years, schooling in particular can be a stressful phase , being saddled with an avalanche of pressure from  examinations,voluminous reading , extensive homework, complexity of curriculum,choice of academic direction and career exploration . Interpersonal relations ,ragging and in some cases socio-economic factors only make things worse . Stress could also result from unreasonable expectations from parents , inadequate coping skills on the part of students and difficulty to come to terms with realityStress is a top health concern not just in India but globally.

Stress is a  state of mind resulting from perception of the environment and  the way one reacts to it . It is not something that can be completely eliminated nor should anyone attempt doing that  because One, it is inevitable and two, a certain level of stress is in fact necessary to ensure that the full potential is unleashed and leveraged . The  challenge then is not to avoid stress but to help students manage it in a way that they are in control of  their lives,their priorities and the focus on their  goals . When this is not managed well, stress can lead to very negative implications such as

  • Early burnout in their lives
  • Depriving them the space to think creatively about choice of their field
  • Loss of self confidence
  • Low self esteem,coupled with self degradation .
  • In extreme cases It is not unusual to see these factors leading to psychosomatic and psychophysiological problems resulting in depression and its grave consequences .

However, educational institutions and parents can play a key role in helping Students cope with stress and come out with flying colors as they reach adulthood. Schools and Colleges  are not merely educational buildings but they are more like a home where students spend considerable time in their lives , building dreams , creating   friendships and evolving holistic personalities for themselves that last for a life time .  Mere education does not make a person successful in life. The need of the hour is far beyond.

But how can this be achieved ?

  • Educational institutions have a multiplicity of roles to perform – as  mentor ,friend and a role model who can influence students significantly outside of the formal curriculum, and help them stay on track during the trans-formative age when they are susceptible to  negative influences.
  • Life skill straining in the Curriculum can make them better prepared citizens with self confidence and tolerance  to sail through complex situations smoothly and bridge gap between complex environment and the dynamism.
  • Build an ecosystem  that  provides students an opportunity to have a balanced curriculum which includes statusquo challenging sessions that encourages them to question, analyse and build creative capabilities in their thinking.
  • Provide  career counselling platforms whereby  the counsellors can connect and relate well to the students, their thoughts, feelings and ambitions and help them pick  the right academic course.  Parents should let go what the neighbour’s or relation’s or friends’ kids are doing but focus on what is logically correct for their child.
  • Make the educational ecosystem an inclusive onewhereby the student begins to identify himself as part of a society and use educational platforms to be a better citizen rather than just enrich academic knowledge. For example in most western schools it is mandatory for students to have a Social volunteering activity during vacation and this is non-negotiable in the curriculum .It could be working for an old age home,or an animal care center or a natural calamity struck destination .This helps to  make child’s personality inclusive in society.
  • Help  students to set up a calendar that can help them multitask with homework, sports,arts and some fun time with friends.A certain amount of daily relaxation /recreation is important in everyone’s life  to preserve physical and emotional health .So a disciplined schedule for the day is necessary to be inculcated, no matter how much pressure the teacher is to complete the prescribed syllabi. Extra curricular activities are an important part of education .It could be sports, art forms like music,dance,culinary,gardening painting whereby the creative side to the student is unraveled.
  • Integrate academics with nature so it can unleash artistic potential of the child simultaneously and also bring about a sense of responsibility towards environment in the trans-formative years.

Thus we can see that there is no magic wand to help students manage stress but it will be a combination of several actions that can inculcate a holistic view  of life in the student and make him enjoy the journey more than the goal itself.