Remember that poster "All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten"? It lists items like: share everything, play fair, and don't take things that aren't yours. As it turns out, these simple lesson for living and learning are based not only in ageless truths, but child development research as well.
In a study of over 700 students from kindergarten (in the early 1990s) until adulthood, researchers found that social skills (like sharing, working well with others, etc.) in kindergarten were one of the best predictors of positive outcomes at the age of 25. These outcomes included things like holding a higher education, full-time job by age 25, and higher paying jobs. In other words, how kindergartners related to the peers, had a greater impact on their life path than IQ or other "academic" factors...and this persisted 20 years later. These "soft skills" as they have come to be called outweighed other prominent factors like gender, family income and race/ethnicity.
We have all probably heard research statistics like this before. We are probably shocked for a moment and then may not think about it again. Consider your child's school? Is it offering your child opportunities to practice and hone these "soft skills" like collaboration, empathy, and communication? Are characteristics like these listed on your child's report card?
In many cases, the answer to these questions would be "no" or at least "not much." We are entering an age in our history where information and those who can manage it, sort it and make sense of it will the dominant feature of our economy and culture.
This is one of the main arguments in a new audio book I'm listening to entitled, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. The authors offer compelling evidence that "soft skills" are crucial to our children's ability to succeed in an information-driven world. Yet, our education system for the most part, is still organized in a model of "content is king." That is the thought that all children need to succeed is the content, the raw knowledge and facts included in reading, writing and arithmetic.
Becoming Brilliant offers a new perspective on what our children will need to function well and succeed in the future. Instead of focusing on educational models or standards, the authors rely on research in child development and learning to really explore how kids learn and how these processes can be implemented into classrooms and into your home. This is what is so refreshing and to my mind, reliable, about this book. It's not another curriculum standard or arbitrary checklist, it's real research that we parents can use to help our children develop the skills they will need to face the future with confidence.
The authors focus on the "6 Cs": collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation, and confidence. As you can see, these provide a mix of both knowledge and "soft skills" that will help our children develop into whole people, not just adults that can rattle off facts. Here's a little preview:
If you are like me, however, you want more for your child than just monetary or academic "success." I want my children to be happy, kind, empathetic, well-adjusted adults who care for other people and the larger world around them. I think most parents want that too. The "6 Cs" provide guidance that supports that goal. Embedded in the "6 Cs" are the foundational tools that will help kids in all realms of life, both professional and personal.
I'm excited to delve into this book more and learn what else I can do at home to foster the "6 Cs" in my kids. Want to join me in exploring this book? Like most parents, I do not have a lot of free time to read, but listening to an audio book while cooking dinner or exercising is a realistic goal.
I'm giving away TWO free copies the audio book Becoming Brilliant. Just enter below and 2 names will be drawn at random on Monday March 6 at noon (MST).