As we all know, the human brain is fascinating. It starts to develop even before a child is born and continues to evolve until adulthood. Research shows that the brain grows the fastest within the first five years of life. Millions of connections are made within the fast-growing brain, stimulating learning and growth. The concept of language evolves, and thinking patterns develop. Toddlers and preschoolers begin to acquire social and emotional skills that enable them to make friends and foster relationships with others around them. They begin to absorb, process and retain information in their tiny brains, which forms the basis of all learning. It is a proven fact that what children learn up to five years of age, remains in their memory for the longest period of time. In fact, the first eight years can create the base for lifelong learning and success. Hence, it is of utmost importance that children are provided age-appropriate exposure to skills that will help them throughout their lives; skills that can help them evolve as self-aware, independent, and confident human beings.
Teamwork: As important as it is to learn how to be independent, it is equally imperative to learn how to be a team player. Children should be encouraged to participate in team activities like sports, group tasks, clubs, and Scouts. When they partake in group tasks, they must learn to cooperate and collaborate with each other. Thus, they organically pick up the basics of team efforts and learn how to sink and swim together. Working in teams helps young learners acquire basic life skills such as empathy, responsibility, and accountability, in addition to developing social skills.
Time management: Learning how to manage time effectively enables children to accomplish more in less time, which is an invaluable skill required at every stage of life. Efficient use of time not only enables them to complete their schoolwork in time, it also helps to alleviate exam anxieties. Time management skills help students focus and enhance their attention span. The value of time management cannot be under-appreciated, as this is one skill that comes in handy in all stages of life. Children who learn the importance of time are better equipped to manage their tasks effectively and independently.
Decision-making: Every decision involves risk – whether the decision will turn out right or wrong. Decision making teaches students how to examine risk. Decisions can be big or small, however, weighing the possible outcomes of a decision helps children to gauge the complexity of the situation and act accordingly. When children are encouraged to make their own decisions from a young age, they learn to trust themselves. That trust goes a long way in building their confidence and strengthening their decision-making skills. A good decision-maker is able to navigate a career path in a better manner, along with being able to enhance the value of their family and community life. They learn to be independent and take accountability for their choices and actions. Such children grow up to be great managers and leaders that others can easily depend on.
Communication: The importance of communication skills is unparalleled. Children with good communication skills are able to make friends easily, express themselves better, and establish a good rapport with peers and teachers. Good communicators grow up as assertive individuals who are able to maintain stable relationships with their families and at work. Communication skills foster confidence while enhancing body language and the ability to listen to others attentively and empathetically. It also improves the presence of the mind and enhances memory. This is a skill that must be honed at school, with adequate opportunities to participate in intra-school and inter-school events.
Presentation skills: In today’s time and age, the ability to interact well with an audience is paramount. Being able to convey one’s message with clarity, engage the audience’s attention and understand the pulse of listeners, are invaluable skills. The ability to present one’s ideas with conviction and clarity is something children must be taught at a young age. Class presentations, debates, analytical skills-based activities, and speech competitions, nurture presentation skills, thereby helping children become confident individuals. Presentation skills enable children to think creatively as they need to prepare engaging slides and tools to illustrate the concept they are presenting. Using such aids during a presentation makes it much more interesting, both for the audience as well as the presenter. The entire process of ideation and creation helps to develop a child’s confidence. One also builds up vocabulary and enhances language concepts including reading, writing, listening, and speaking, during the process. The act of presenting one’s ideas gives an instant boost to confidence, so it’s a win-win situation.
Studies show that the best age to learn something that remains with us for a lifetime is childhood. The mind is at its active best, ready to observe and absorb. It is a great responsibility upon parents and educators to nurture skill-based learning from an early age.
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