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  • Our Kids' Future Will Be Very Different From Ours: Here Are The Life Skills They Need

    One way to raise future-ready kids is through play-based learning.
    by Hanna Fernando-Pacua .
Our Kids' Future Will Be Very Different From Ours: Here Are The Life Skills They Need
PHOTO BY iStock
  • I grew up in the ’90s. During my time, a regular day for a kid would mean doing two main things: to study or to play. Studying meant spending our time at school or doing assignments at home — complete this early on, and you get rewarded with playtime. Playing meant going outside and riding your bike or playing patintero or piko with friends.

    Fast forward to 2019, where my 9-year old kid is faced with a multitude of choices of things to do after school! There are many after-school services available, ranging from academic enrichment classes to art classes, sports classes, or robotics and coding sessions. At home, homework quickly becomes an unpopular choice, as kids are offered more distractions by the TV, the Internet, social media, and video games.

    We can say that life has become a little bit more complicated for the young ones. Aside from the added distractions, they are also facing 21st-century problems like climate change, growing social intolerance, and the rise of artificial intelligence. As we approach the future, technology is taking over human jobs, and we have to get our kids ready for it. According to Forbes, the future of work would demand the skills that machines can’t do: creativity, imagination, social and emotional intelligence, and passion.

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    How to give your child the life skills he needs to be future ready

    SmartParenting.com.ph had a chat with Rosanna Lopez, founder of education and research lab, SparkleLAB, to get some ideas on how to make learning relevant and fun for kids, all the while preparing them for a future that is very different from ours.

    “This is the perfect time to start preparing the kids for the problems of the 21st century,” says Lopez. “We believe that cognitive skills like numeracy and literacy are important, but play, curiosity, and socio-emotional skills like collaboration, grit, and resilience are equally important.”

    Now, we don’t necessarily get subjects like “grit” and “curiosity” at school, right? How then can we cultivate such skills in our kids?

    Fuel your child's interests, but continue to spark his curiosity

    Get to know your kids and support their interests. Is there something that stands out among their hobbies? Does she like animals? Why not watch a documentary together or visit a zoo? Is he showing an interest in art? Keep a steady supply of art materials at home for his experimentation.

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    On the other hand, it is also useful to expand their horizons by introducing new things. Do you live in the city? Take the kids for a hike or visit a farm over the weekend for a change of scenery. The trip could spark questions on how people live differently or how food gets from the farm to our tables.

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    Encourage collaboration

    Boost your child’s socialization and teamworking skills by exposing them to different types of people and peers of different ages. We usually encourage play between kids in the same age groups, but having a diverse playgroup can introduce them to intergenerational learning.

    At home, we can involve the kids in household chores. For siblings, have them do a group activity like a music video or have them plan the next family vacation.

    “Working on projects collaboratively will make the kids aware that people have different skills, likes, and dislikes. It also practices their negotiation skills early on,” Rosanna shared. “We do project-based learning where kids work on projects alongside peers and teachers.”

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    Don’t be afraid to challenge their comfort zones

    Flex your children’s grit by occasionally giving them tasks that are above their level of comfort. Allow them to tinker around in the kitchen (with supervision, of course) — perhaps measuring and mixing ingredients together, cracking an egg, or flipping a pancake. Encourage a can-do attitude and foster an environment where failure is safe and part of the pathway to success.

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    Practice empathy through role-playing

    Empathy is the awareness of the feelings and the needs of other people. It becomes increasingly important as our world becomes more fast-paced and digital.

    Go beyond just reading a storybook, and talk about the feelings of the characters in the story. Practice asking your child what would they feel if they were in a similar situation and how they would act.

    “Empathy is a key skill that’s needed in design thinking. At our school, our kids will be working with local communities to think about techniques on how to make lives in the community better.” Practicing these “soft-skills” may sound a lot like play, but in this day and age, there needn’t be a firm line distinguishing school and play.

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    Rosanna believes that school and learning can be made more exciting: where students wake up in the morning, anticipating beautiful things that would happen to them that day. It is what she hopes for Discovery Academy of Innovation, a new preschool that she co-founded with Justine Tajonera and Nicole Concepcion.

    Discovery Academy of Innovation is focused on play, design, innovation, and creative learning. It employs an experience-based way of teaching students to understand the world and how it works. Its preschool is set to open in 2020, and it will add a new grade level each year. The school’s integrated curriculum is composed of subject areas like “The Way Things Work: Applied Sciences and Mathematics,” “Design for Change: Critical Thinking and Global Citizenship Education,” and “MakerLAB: the Arts and Applied Sciences.”

    As the world changes, we certainly need to be open to new ways of learning things. After all, as Rosanna points out, “How do we support our kids in a changing world if we continue to use unchanged classrooms?” My 90’s classroom of blackboard, chalk, and teacher won’t be able to keep up.

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    DAI will be opening its preschool at 2/F KDC Plaza, 2212 Chino Roces Ave, Makati City. For inquiries, email Justine.tajonera@sparklelab.ph

    Wondering the cost of preschools? Check out our cost guide here.

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