Increased technology (automation and artificial intelligence), societal issues (pollution and overpopulation), and health concerns (COVID-19 and hospital care) have made it vital for children to learn skills that will prepare them for the complex demands of the future. In fact, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.) have identified the 21st Century Skills of Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Character, and Diligence as vital for the success of potential employees (See: The Skills You Need to Succeed in 2020). At Point Avenue, we agree that these skills are essential for children to practice at an early age and our educational philosophy is to integrate lessons that combine academic rigor and 21st Century concepts.
Similar to playing the piano, drawing artwork, or training to run a marathon, the 21st Century Skills take continued effort and practice to master. As a parent, you should take the perspective that 21st Century skills are attributes and not personality traits which can be practiced at home, in school, and other social situations. The following section describes each of the skills and explains strategies for home and additional resources.
- Description: Creativity is best described as your intelligence having fun. As a result, you can have a Eureka moment in which you come up with a new idea or solution. Creativity supports imagination and the ability to think of new ideas. Creativity also supports the ability to be a free thinker and problem solver which are important skills for college and workplace readiness.
- At Home: A combination of free play and games can help support creativity. Games which help to support creativity include: pictionary, charades, drama, or acting.
- Resource: Free Play and Creativity.
- Resource: Creativity in School TED Talk.
- Description: Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse people and teams. Flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making compromises to accomplish a common goal. Everyone in your family should add value and each person is a piece of the puzzle making it whole.
- At Home: You should have your child help you with chores around the house. Chores have been shown to be effective in connecting purpose and community and knowing HOW to help. The key is for you to do the chores with the child (not just assigning chores). Make it a communal practice that has broader implications for family success.
- Resource: How to Get Your Kids to Do Chores At Home (article).
- Description: The ability to reason effectively and use various types of methods to arrive at a solution (inductive and deductive). Make appropriate judgement and decision making (looking ahead and planning future outcomes).
- At Home: A great way to increase critical thinking is to incorporate strategy games at home including: scrabble, chess, monopoly, legos, and other online games (see resource).
- Resource: Online Games That Help Critical Thinking.
- Description: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using verbal (oral/speech) and nonverbal (posture/tone) communication skills . For example: face to face, using technology, written form, public speaking, etc.
- At Home: Each day you should have a set time where you have a discussion topic with your family. A few example questions are: What is the best invention in the world? What makes a person good? If you could eat dinner with one person who would it be and why?
- Resource: Discussion Topics you can have with your child.
- Description: The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual. Good character means that you do the right thing especially when no one else is looking. People with good character often have traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, fortitude, and other important virtues that promote good behavior.
- At Home: One of the most important aspects of character development is to model good behavior at home. Parents should work with their children to talk about leadership and mentor them during these unpredictable times. The more time you spend with your child the more they will view you as a stable character in their lives they can trust and emulate in the future.
- Resource: TED talk on teaching character: TED Talk.
- Description: The skill of having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties. In other words, tirelessly persevering and doing things with care, attention to detail, and effort. Not giving up easily on something that is difficult.
- At Home: Your child should focus on the depth (not breadth) of a topic which interests them in order to practice diligence, perseverance, and grit. Encourage your child to present a research topic to the rest of the family and have one new topic every other week (Example topics: pollution, COVID-19, uniforms in school, world hunger, etc).
- Resource: Character Lab and the concept of perseverance, diligence, and grit: Character Lab
Myles L. Lynch, M.S., Ph.D., Head of Research and Development and Teacher Training