Developing LIfe Skills Starts Early

These skills are indicative of not just school readiness at age fiv, but of success through college and into the workforce:
Focus & Self Control
Perspective Taking
Making Connections
Critical Thinking
Taking on Challenges
Self-Directed, Engaged Learning
The final four skills are sometimes thought of as “older” skills, but begin developing at a very early age. 
We are going to discuss the final four skills today; these are sometimes thought of as “older” skills, however, we begin developing them at a very early age.
Making Connections 
This skill is at the heart of learning. Being able to determine what is the same, what is different, and sorting information leads to creativity and goes beyond “knowing information” to “using information well”. They are figuring out how the world works.
One thing you can do to build this skill with young children is play “20 Questions”, “Connect Four” or “Guess my Rule” (colored manipulative sorted in a way that children have to determine the attribute, or attributes,  that define the rules for the set).
Critical Thinking 
Ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge that is used to guide beliefs, decisions & actions.
Model critical thinking by asking questions. If you don’t know the answer, look it up together. 
Promote curiosity and don’t jump in quickly to fix something they are struggling with. A better approach is to help them figure out how to resolve it by asking questions rather than just giving the answer. 
Taking on Challenges 
Being resilient in the face of stress, trying new experiences, being proactive in standing up to difficulties.
Fixed vs. Growth Mindset. Children who see their intelligence as “fixed” typically are unwilling to undertake challenges that “stretch” them. Children that see their abilities as something that can be developed, willing undertake challenges and have a “growth” mindset.
Be aware of how you communicate stress; children will “read” and respond. Crying babies are easier to settle when you are calm.
Protecting children is important, so examine whether you are an “interfering” parent, eg, managing everything your child does or acting as an “alarmist,” seeing danger everywhere. Both are more likely to increase their child’s stress and anxiety.
Praise children’s efforts (“You are working hard”) versus their personality, traits or work (“You are so smart”).
Self-Directed,Self Engaged Learning
Help your child become a seeker of knowledge and skills. Provide first hand experiences for children. Extend and elaborate their experiences by asking children to explain what they have learned. 
These skills are not indicative of intelligence, but a child’s ability to use these skills will help them navigate life.
Panhandle Association for the Education of Young Children

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