The need to be proficient in soft-skills requires no introduction – both in personal and professional lives. And the beauty of soft-skill is that we are naturally born with some of them, the rest can be acquired as booster doses through training and coaching sessions. But it goes without saying, the more these are embedded in an individual during childhood learning or formative years, deeper they go and smarter you perform as a grown up later in life. So definitely when pre-school learning is considered, other than familiarization with academic learning or training in other skill sets like motor skills etc., soft skills form a dominant segment of such learning. In fact, it becomes a critical deciding factor in the selection of a particular school for many parents; especially for those who are more concerned about the holistic development of their child. The balanced learning of some of the vital soft skills becomes essential to the personal development children. While we know we cannot spoon feed all aspects of soft skills overnight, there are some which are more essential for pre-school age group. So let us take a quick look at 5 key soft skills which can be imbibed through pre-schooling in children, especially during the current pandemic environment.
The pre-school times are like writing on a white board. Kids learn fast and the impression left on their minds is lifelong. So, the vital skill of communication is best taught and learnt during such times. It includes learning a language which may not be their mother tongue (as most kids learn English first these days), the very first range of vocabulary and above all understanding the true meaning of communication. These are the times when kids learn how to speak with different people, say friends, teachers, parents. The child can be taught with greater care, on correct usage of communication techniques, choice of words, presentation styles and a host of many such elements.
Learning to play with friends in a play school is a wonderful way for kids to learn the fundamentals of teamwork. But as the pandemic holds them prisoners in their homes, it is still possible to learn the art and science of teamwork at home. Parents can engage in activities that involve their child. The best part of teaching teamwork now is no longer restricted to games and toys used in normal pre-schools. It can now be a fun activity where even normal household activities, say arranging magazines in a bookshelf, or just sorting fruits in a basket or even helping arrange their clothes in the closet can be made use of. All these can be simple yet effective ways a child can learn how a team can work to put things in place or get some job done. The pandemic maybe depriving your kid from visiting the pre-school physically but you can compensate their learning of team work through other innovative ways.
Being creative is not something someone can learn overnight by memorising a series of steps. Creativity is one of the best gifts of nature, and in fact a person who is unable to provide creative solutions is considered performing low on emotional intelligence scales of measurement. So, the very initiation to being creative should ideally start from a tender age. Special attention should be paid to ensure that a kid does not grow up like a robot and becomes a slave to memorising things and performing.
The pandemic has thrown open a golden opportunity for pre-schoolers where they are left with longer hours to toy with things beyond their play toys. In addition to school learning, there can be so many unique situations where parents can help augment the creative skills of their kids at home. Kids can not only experiment with their own ideas, they can also observe family members and others online, with respect to how a particular problem can be approached creatively. It is a great learning aid and it prompts them to be creative from a very tender age – aided learning of schools and personalized training of the family, both trigger the creative human inside them.
4. Critical thinking
This is a soft skill which sometimes even the most mature professional lacks if not adequately practised. As young minds are trained in different skill sets for life, critical thinking is a vital soft skill which needs to be encouraged. It is the ability to approach a problem with confidence, break it down logically and approach it with a solution that is absolutely unique. You can give lessons and teach steps to think critically in difficult situations to grown-ups, who would understand the meaning and instructions. But with kids the situation is absolutely different. Be it solving a puzzle or building a structure with their playing blocks, kids are encouraged to be intuitive through learning of such a skill. Young minds are active and ready to pick up challenges, as they experiment and toy with every little thing around them. Keep them enthusiastic and encourage them to find the solution to a problem on their own. With the supervision and guidance of seniors around them, young kids feel more confident and encouraged to apply their brains to solving a problem. Practising critical thinking will definitely help them evolve as smart individuals in future.
5. Social etiquettes and the art of socializing
It is their first interaction with social life, since they have come to their senses. Pre-school goers are just getting started to learn how others in the world speak, react, behave, communicate and how one puts one’s own self in the complicated system which we call society. So being social is the very first lesson we need to develop as humans. It not only involves a formal training in etiquettes, but the sense of accepting others the way they are. The art of listening, the way of communicating one’s ideas and expressing emotions, they all are factored in. Socializing is one of the toughest soft skills an individual can learn and the earlier you start getting conscious about it in life, better the chances of you being a more complete individual as an adult. This is a skill which has always been primarily initiated by the teachers in pre-school, who are entrusted with the tough job of appreciating that every kid is different and they need to be handled accordingly. Now as pre-schooling goes online, schools and parents share equal opportunites to teach children with the right tips to socialize.
Teach your kid to be more social, let them know how the world feels beyond the four walls of lockdown confinement or laptop screens. It will need added efforts now, but this will be the most vital soft skill you can teach your child in current times.
While these are some key soft skills that have been highlighted , it goes without saying that the entire design of preschool teaching to kids needs to be rearranged. The balance of different elements of social life which includes critical thinking, communication and collaboration, corporeal connectivity, creativity, cultural consciousness – all need to be smoothly intertwined in the learning of these tender minds. And we have to be careful that all such serious facets of lifetime education need to be so presented that kids enjoy the learning exercise as a fun activity and learn the best. All these and more have been intrinsically woven into the pedagogy of Little Laureates where children are taught to communicate, collaborate, create and think critically.