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Important life skills children need to learn now – And how to teach them

When you get a new TV, with lots of buttons on the remote, and plenty of features on the menu, it requires some skill to figure it all out. The same is true about a new operating system or cooking range. However, the skills you use to deal with these challenges aren’t “new”. You learned a lot of the basics, like curiosity, exploring, observing, trial and error – when you figured out your first TV or device. It’s all thanks to certain skills you learned growing up, that are now ingrained in you. Sending your kids to summer camp in Bethesda can help them learn some life skills they’ll need to figure things out and navigate life’s challenges.

Understanding What Life Skills Means

Today’s tech-savvy generation will likely beat any adult in a race to figuring out how that TV works! That’s because young children learn a lot more about technology at a very early age. They then learn to apply those skills to other situations – like helping dad setup and program the new home thermostat; or getting Siri or Cortana to serve as navigator on the cross-country family vacation road trip. With improvisation, a life skill, once learned, may be applied to different situations.

So, what exactly is a “life skill”?

At a very basic level, it’s a collection of abilities that makes people independent, resilient, self-sufficient, and productive, and gives them the skill to adapt, survive and thrive in new situations. And most of those skills, like reading, learning to do basic math, and discerning friend from foe, are skills that kids must learn earlier on in life.

Beyond the Classroom

But life requires more than the ability to write or read, or to solve math quizzes. For instance, teachers, chaperons and educators, overseeing kids at summer camp in Bethesda MD, teach their camp groups how to use their reading skills to understand trail signs. That’s an example of how a skill, learned in a classroom, can be adapted to a real-world application. Some of the life skills that kids must learn include:

Good Communication Skills: Pre-schooling and higher education teaches kids how to write and speak well, and how to pronounce words properly. However, good communication skills require a lot more – especially how to express themselves in stressful situations. Some great communication skills you should teach your kids include:

  • the importance of listening and hearing and understanding, when people talk to them
  • how to filter out ‘noise’ and rhetoric in a heated situation, to comprehend what others are saying
  • the ability to speak calmly and concisely to articulate what you want from others
  • using nonverbal gestures and signs to communicate, and understanding what others mean when they use similar gestures
  • using new-age media, like emails, text messaging, and social media to communicate with friends, family, and school/work mates
  • the importance of proper online safety and privacy

Social skills are likely one of the most essential of life’s skills that you’ll impart to your child. The best way for them to learn those skills is by encouraging them to embrace social situations. Invite them to family gatherings. Have their friends and school mates over. Enroll them in group activities, such as participating in at summer camp in Bethesda.

Physical and Mental Wellbeing: It’s important for children to learn some basic skills that’ll serve them later, to take care of their physical needs. These skills include:

  • setting schedules – for sleeping and waking-up, meals, play time and school work
  • personal hygiene, including brushing their teeth, bathing and showering, regularly washing and changing their clothes, making their bed, cleaning the bed linen
  • nutrition and healthy meal choices
  • age-appropriate exercising and fitness regimens
  • important and easy ways to deal with stress, like breathing exercises, or stepping away – momentarily – from stressful situations to regroup their thoughts and action plan
  • organizing their school, home, and work places for efficiency and less clutter

Daycare centers or preschools may teach some of these skills, but they’ll learn many of them – like good potty habits, and showering and bathing techniques – at home. They’ll also pick up some, like washing clothes or changing bed linen, by watching parents and caregivers at home.

Street-wise Skills: These skills can help young kids become street savvy, especially as they grow older and spend more time independent of adult supervision. Good skills to teach your kids include:

  • understanding street signs and traffic light signals
  • learning to cross safely, especially when traffic lights aren’t functioning, or in poor lighting conditions
  • skateboarding and sidewalk safety
  • recognizing street directionals – North, south, east, west, southeast etc.
  • reading and understanding transit routes (bus, subway, streetcars) and maps, and how to use the systems

Formal learning environments, like schools and caregiving centers, typically take young kids on field trips to teach them safe use of roads, and how to navigate transit networks. Young kids also learn basic mapping skills at summer camp in Bethesda. Most of these skills are, however, practiced, reinforced, and perfected, during outings and visits with family and friends.

Good Money-management Skills: We talked earlier about how important a life skill learning math is for young children. Money-management skills build upon that basic skill, and sets your kids up for financial independence. It’s nice to teach your child some of the following financial skills as early as possible:

  • the importance of budget management and living within their means
  • saving and investing wisely
  • price comparison when shopping
  • looking for deals – whether its to buy a new toy, shopping for school supplies, or going grocery shopping
  • how credit cards work
  • what taking a loan or borrowing money entails

Most schools and educational institutions teach kids about financial matters. However, there’s no substitute to real-world experience, and that’s what parents and guardians can do to ensure their kids learn these life skills. Make your child accompany you on grocery shopping trips, or when going Back to School shopping. Teach them to read utility bills and credit card statements.

And, if you do your banking online, it may also be a good idea to have them sit by when you log-on and navigate through the banks’ website. Explain what various sections of the website are (Balances, Owings, Interest, Investments etc.), and how those factors impact the family’s finances.

Life’s Problem-solving Skills: Often, life does not throw problems at us that have a specific checklist of solutions. Kids must learn to deal with those challenges, as and when they come, by cultivating some life skills early on in life. Good life skills to teach your kids in this category include:

  • what to do if they’re lost and need direction
  • missing your train or bus stop
  • how to deal with bullies
  • demanding change back, politely, when you realize someone short-changed you
  • best thing to do if you misplace (or forget to bring) your school text books for a class
  • dealing with a bus pass that’s low on funds
  • returning an overdue library book
  • complaining about something you didn’t like (a bad haircut, a stale sandwich, or a cold ‘hot’ meal)

These are challenges that young kids will face, not just while they’re in school, but also in their professional and personal lives as adults. Improvising skills, like how kids learn to build a fire at summer camp in Bethesda MD, if they don’t have matchboxes or lighters, can help them adapt one life skill to solve another of life’s challenges. For instance, they’ll use what you’ve taught them as kids, to stand up to an uncouth colleague at work (bullies), or ask for a promotion or raise when a boss unjustly overlooks them (short-changed).

Critical Thinking Skills: It’s important for children to learn how to think on their feet; to think for themselves; and to make decisions based on their own thoughts, and not be swayed by other people’s opinions. These skills include:

  • how to respond in an emergency
  • how to take multiple opinions into consideration when making up their minds
  • what to look for when determining credible versus non-credible (i.e., fake) news sources
  • how not to make impulsive judgements or form opinions by deferring matters, if possible

One way to encourage critical thinking, is to hold frequent discussions with your kids on current news headlines. Ask how they would handle specific situations that they’ve heard or read about online, on TV or in newspapers. Role-playing, or playing out hypothetical situations, is also great for developing critical thinking in kids.

Life Skill-building Action Plan

Throughout this post, we’ve highlighted critical life skills that kids should learn at a young age, and suggested some ways that adults (teachers, parents, relatives, guardians, caregivers) can help youngsters build those skills. As an adult, however, it’s important for you to build an action plan of the most critical life skills you believe your child must learn.

For example, if you live in a rural setting, you may not wish to spend much time teaching them about navigating a subway system. Participation in a field trip or a summer camp in Bethesda, can also impart important life skills, like roughing it out in the outdoors, working as a team, and collaborating with friends to accomplish specific goals. These are life skills that kids will then leverage, throughout adulthood, to adapt, improvise, and adjust their responses to varying challenges that life throws at them.

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