What do children need to be successful later in life?

In Blog by Heather Rees

As an educator, there is nothing I like more than seeing children Learn to Love to Learn™. As a parent, I want my children to wake up each morning wanting to go to school because it is a fun, safe place to learn and teaches children academic curriculum and the skills they need to be successful in life.

A growing body of research supports that one’s EQ (emotional quotient), not IQ, is the best predictor of success later in life. Research conducted at the Ontario Ministry of Education and by Tony Wagner at Harvard University looked at private and public- sector businesses and organizations to find out what skills students need to build successful careers and be good citizens. They discovered memorizing facts and test taking were not on the list. What they did find was several critical skills that Wagner calls the “new survival skills”. These are outlined in his book, The Global Achievement Gap and more recently by Paul Tough, author of How Children Succeed. These new survival skills will produce citizens who will contribute to solving the problems society faces now and in the future.

Some of the skills identified include the ability to use imagination and curiosity to think critically and problem solve. Companies need employees to think about how to improve products and services and ask good questions when investigating approaches that have not been done before. Schools with an inquiry-based approach to learning encourage the development of these skills and the application of previous learning to new situations.
Another important survival skill we need children to develop is collaboration. More than the ability to work with other people, it is the ability to understand perspectives of others and recognizing when to speak and when to listen. Collaboration helps teams reach collective goals. It is necessary for schools to provide opportunities for students to create, collaborate, take risks, and problem solve with others.

Also necessary is teaching students the need to communicate with others – verbally, in writing, and through presentations – and to be clear and concise when making their points. Companies are no longer complaining about poor grammar, punctuation or spelling as these are minimized with the use of computers. What is most important is the ability to express your thinking well.

Having resiliency, being flexible, believing in oneself, and ‘stick-with-it-ness’ are essential for success and happiness. In order to assist students in learning these skills, educators need to model and promote a growth mindset. Students make greater gains academically, emotionally and socially when they know how their brain works and that they can improve in anything through practice, effort, and perseverance. A growth mindset supports students when they struggle and helps turn mistakes and failures into opportunities to learn and improve.

These skills take time and practice to develop. Your child’s success in elementary school and beyond demands a strong academic foundation. We also know that it demands creativity, resilience, self awareness, adaptability, and strong communication skills. One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is an education that encompasses learning in all key areas: academics, social, emotional, physical, and global. A progressive school that takes a student-centered approach, where teachers guide the learning process and create an inviting learning environment motivates children to Learn to Love to Learn™.