What are 21st-century skills and why are they important? In a world that is globalized and rapidly changing, almost all parents, teachers, education activists might wonder how to prepare young children with important skill sets to thrive in the 21st century. Among a variety of skills that are useful for personality development, which are the essentials ones for learning and nurturing children’s minds for the future?

what are 21st century skills for kids children students

With regard to skills, some may refer to the traditional, hard skills such as reading, writing, arithmetic, which are also known as IQ – Intelligence Quotient. Another type of skill usually mentioned is EQ- Emotional Quotient, including social skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication, curiosity, & critical thinking along with leadership and adaptability.

Hereby, SKIDOS would like to introduce you to 6 key skills needed for young children to succeed in the 21st century according to Dr. Laura A. Jana, the world’s leading pediatrician, media spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and award-winning author.

What are 21st-century skills and why are they important?

#1 Me skills can be defined by self-awareness, self-control, focus & attention.

#2 “We skills” can be understood as interpersonal skills, relationship skills including communication, collaboration, teamwork, active listening, empathy & perspective taking which are essential to work with other people.

#3 “Why skills” includes the ability of exploration, curiosity, inquisitiveness & asking all sorts of questions to understand how the world works.

#4 “Will skills” are also about motivation and perseverance.

#5 Adaptability skills help kids to consider multiple options to overcome the difficulties in the new environment, to improve the environment & come up with new ideas rather than being emotionally stuck with their previous circumstances and ideas.

#6 Creativity, innovation, imagination skills refer to the abilities to see the world not as what it is but how it can become.

21st century skills for kids children students

#1 Me skills

The first skill can be called the “Me skill”, which originates from the inside to control our own thoughts, feelings & actions. “Me” skills can be defined by self-awareness, self-control, focus & attention.

If the 20th century were considered as the era of business management, the 21st century would be the era of self-management. Children who possess self-management skills will be likely to stick to the timetable and the study plan to finish assignments, study for exams & be focused in class.

Especially in times of Covid-19 pandemic when schools in many countries switch from the traditional class teaching to the distant teaching method, it is important that young learners learn how to capture and use essential self-management skills. The success skill of self-management fosters the ability of students to follow through on study plans, complete tasks & assignments, and keep schedules.

There are several ways to integrate self-management skills one of the 21st-century skills into students’ lives.

How to develop me skills self-awareness, self-control, focus and attention for kids

Make a daily plan

In some countries, kids are learning remotely, it is time that a daily routine is created to give kids the freedom of how to spend their day.

Kids can plan and produce a daily schedule and become invested in the process— which will be useful throughout life. It is said that keeping routines and daily rituals improve self-management skills better and later lead to personal, professional, and academic success.

Parents should remember that several learners will need modeling and kind reminders to help them follow through with their daily plans.

Create a weekly schedule

It is quite clear that COVID-19 is forcing many young learners into an isolation situation which may not last long but still have several impacts on them. While learning to create, manage & follow bigger timetables, students benefit from managing their learning 21st-century skills on a weekly basis and taking other useful and healthful activities.

Weekly schedules are more structured, contain more information, and provide an enhanced view of tasks and projects that need to be done over a week for effective completion.

Furthermore, keeping a weekly schedule is necessary to evaluate whether time spent permits for successful completion of tasks, provides ample study time, and allows for activities that are consistent with a healthy lifestyle.

Stick to deadlines

Being at home and not being reminded of the daily tasks can increase the possibility that kids may forget the importance of respect deadlines and due dates. Sometimes students may miss the deadlines as they:

  • Get stuck and do not know what to do or who to ask
  • Are easily distracted from learning
  • Do not take their work seriously
  • Are not aware of the consequences of the delay
  • Do not have a plan or schedule

In order to remind learners of the deadline, it is great to publish their deadlines everywhere! It can be done by writing the due dates on colorful notes and leave them at noticeable places such as the wall, the refrigerator, the bathroom, or post it on social media platforms such as school forums, Facebook.

Or try out The Doctor Game for your child while experience the joy of being a little doctor they will learn how to take care of themself. 

develop we skill communication, collaboration, teamwork, active listening, empathy and perspective taking for kids children

#2 We skills

“We skills” can be understood as interpersonal skills, relationship skills including communication, collaboration, teamwork, active listening, empathy & perspective making which are essential to work with other people. From an early young age, toddlers can be taught to understand and respect others’ perspectives.

Young infants can show a sign of empathy and sense other people’s emotions. It can be said that the combination of “me skills” and “we skills” together creates the Emotional Intelligence definition and this is highly important for children to thrive in all aspects of the 21st century.

Collaboration & Communication

They are mostly important 21st-century learning skills considering that modern technologies have given access for people to communicate and work across countries’ borders. The collaboration and communication skill sets are essential that young kids know how to interact and work with each other so as to finish even very simple tasks.

With regard to communication skills, kids are expected to learn how to effectively communicate with others and speak up their opinions among a crowd of people whose personality traits are varied. Without proper communication ability, young students in the 21st century will be short of a pivotal skill to get ahead in their careers.

On the other hand, collaboration is also considered a vital learning skill. If kids know how to collaborate, they can find it easier to make friends, to overcome the hesitation of raising their ideas in group discussions or writing essays & to be able to empathize with their peers & to have unusual thinking styles.

Some parents may think that kids can begin learning about collaboration when they go to school, but actually, they can practice collaborating with others earlier at home. Let’s say, parents, can ask their children how to share simple household chores, for example, to tidy and pick up their toys to put in the right place. In case the kids have one or more siblings, they can all learn 21st-century skills together.

Here is a specific game designed for role-playing and to develop collaborator skills Shopping Mall – Toddler Games: 2,3,4-Year-Olds is a role-playing game, a toy, & a little helper. It’s a fun way to experience shopping at the mall & reinvent 34+ cute, little friends. We have made every item interactional, so the combinations are endless for learning.

Why skills 21st century skills for kids kindergarten children

#3 Why skills

“Why skills” includes the ability of exploration, curiosity, inquisitiveness and asking all sorts of questions to understand how the world works become one of the 21st century skills. Sometimes, the ability to ask the right, relevant questions is much more values than to give right answers considering that getting a right answer at the era of Information technology is not much a difficult task.

Steve Jobs, one of the greatest leaders in the world, the former CEO of Apple, once said: “Stay hungry, stay foolish” as an emphasis to urge people to ask questions, to think out-of-the- box, to experiment and to reinvent. Curiosity means children tend to observe more, to think and try to figure things out.

When children are curious, they expand their vocabulary as they use languages to make a description of what they see, hear, feel, think or experience. It is quite natural that the kids keep asking why in order to explore the world around them and it is parents’ job to encourage children, not to restrain them from expressing their natural sense of wonder. Some tips for parents to grow children’s curiosity during the early years can be:

  • Answer their questions
  • Let children freely pursue their interests and redirect if needed
  • Stimulate children with open-ended questions
  • Visit new places and explore the world
  • Be curious
  • Get away from a set routine of activities
how to develop will skill 21st century skills

#4 Will skills

It is important that children should be recognized not only by their grades but their drive and determination which are both key aspects of the will. “Will skills” are also about motivation and perseverance. The 21st century will highly demand people with self-motivation become one of the 21st-century skills which come from within and can be nurtured from an early age – that is why will skills become one of the 21st-century skills.

Some ways to build self-motivation for your children:

  • Guide his/her schedule to keep a balanced lifestyle
  • Encourage kids to try and explore new things without regard to outcome or evaluation
  • Bring her to her community such as friends, neighbors, clubs for a feeling of purpose to work hard for the team
  • Reward on effort: praise how much effort your children put to accomplish their goal no matter what the results may be.
develop Adaptability & flexibility skills for kids children students

#5 Adaptability & flexibility

In a rapidly changing world, it is necessary that kids learn how to face, overcome, take lessons from their failures & to be able to adjust to sudden changes become really important 21st-century skills.

Children can be put under stress when they face an unexpected change but they should not be panic. It is important that kids be able to stay calm, think clearly & react relatively quickly.

Adaptability skills help kids to consider multiple options to overcome the difficulties in the new environment, to improve the environment & come up with new ideas rather than being emotionally stuck with their previous circumstances and ideas.

Some ways to build adaptability and flexibility skills for your children:

  • Talk about adaptability
  • Make assumptions: what would you do if…?
  • Change the plan: Let your kid has to be exposed to conditions that require adaptation.  For example, try adding or removing activities in the schedule, inviting more or fewer people to the guest list
  • Make a surprise: Plan a fun activity but keep it a secret from your children!
  • Reward flexibility: Kids can see the benefits of being flexible when parents express their admiration to them in the form of praise or little gifts.
Develop Creativity 21st century skills for kids children student

#6 Creativity

Creativity, innovation, imagination are the final 21st-century skills that refer to the abilities to see the world not as what it is but how it can become. These are success factors for the 21st century because imagination, creativity are the materials used to invent something new.

Young children are born creative, they are in-born futurists who see the world always filled with endless possibilities; meanwhile, for your children to remain creative until they reach adulthood is an important task for parents to perform.

Tips for parents to create a safe environment for Creativity – for 21st-century skills:

Encourage “possibility thinking”: pose the question “What if?” to children to help them naturally think of creative possibilities.

  • Nurture children’s interests: Allow children to choose their after-school activities. Encourage them to explore deeply the activities they like to do
  • Imaginative play: role play and participate in imaginary stories with children
  • Home art projects: for children to learn how to build or make something new

In summary, by applying early all of those 6 key skills we now know, it is likely that children will be given full access to the world of possibilities where they can grow, thrive & succeed in doing what they desire to do. Or try out learning games such as Toddler Animal Coloring Game you child will be in an ever-expanding world to color & create their own idea to paint the animal in the way they want it to be!

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