How do you raise a future billionaire? For one thing, he doesn't necessarily have to be a genius. In fact, one report has underlined how schools around the globe are so focused on nurturing a child's cognitive skills, it may be forgetting three essentials: problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
In its Human Capital Report (“Preparing People for the Future of Work”), the World Economic Forum states that "many of today’s education systems are already disconnected from the skills needed to function in today’s labor markets."
What skill set are we talking about exactly? Another report called the Future of Jobs Report provides a list of top 10 skills children need to thrive in 2020.
Complex problem solving
Coordinating with others
Judgment and decision-making
In an article, World Economic Forum highlights that emotional intelligence and cognitive flexibility were not part of the skills list in 2015. Creativity was the last item on the list at the time, which has now gone up to third place.
So how can we foster the above skills our kids will need for the "jobs of the future"?
#1 Encourage your children to become investigators. So says Amy Seely Flint, Ph.D., professor of education at Georgia State University, in Atlanta. "Teach kids to ask questions, gather information intelligently, ask someone else's point of view, and weigh evidence," advises Roberta Golinkoff, co-author of Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children.
Teaching complex problem-solving, developing critical thinking, judgment and decision-making skills and cognitive flexibility are all interconnected. Honing these skills involves helping your child make pros and cons list to help him make an informed decision. Brainstorm with your child on possible solutions to problems, advises child psychologist Ma. Araceli Balajadia-Alcala, and don't shoot down their suggestions without testing them or discussing cause and effect.
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Cognitive flexibility refers to brain's ability to shift from one concept to another, which can be crucial in adjusting and adapting to unexpected situations. Practice this with your child by letting him take risks and make mistakes. Let him learn from them. Help your child develop a growth mindset and always see the positive in every situation.
#2 Guide your child how he can handle his emotions. Relating well to other people is the end-goal of teaching kids social skills early on in life. Psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham writes social intelligence is critical not only to career success but a person's happiness throughout life as well. To be able to do this, one needs to learn how to handle his emotions as well.
Emotional intelligence is all about helping kids recognize and label their feelings, learn self-control, and understand himself as well as other people around him. Helping a child learn to acknowledge his feelings will make him better equipped to face whatever challenge he encounters, including working with other people from all walks of life.
Service orientation is the ability or desire to anticipate, recognize, and meet other people's needs and is helpful in people management. Teaching your child empathy is the best way to develop this skill. Registered counselor and parenting-relationship consultant Michelle Tambunting suggests to discuss feelings with your child and develop family traditions that involve volunteering to help or giving to the less-fortunate
#3 Let him play. Creativity helps teach problem-solving skills, come up with new ideas, promote emotional development, boost self-confidence and nurture an attitude of success in children. And to hone a child's creativity, we need to let him play, which is instrumental to learning even long after the child's formative years. Research has shown that children learn to become more creative and learn how to arrive at their solutions when given the freedom and opportunity to explore on their own.
"If we agree on the urgent need for developing skills of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity, it is essential that we recognize that these skills are built by learning through play across the lifespan," wrote Mirjam Schöning, head of Learning through Play in Early Childhood programme of The Lego Foundation, and Christina Witcomb, The Lego Foundation's senior communication manager.
So, yes to all of the above tips on developing cognitive problem-solving skills and socio-emotional intelligence. But don't forget to do so by having fun. Play with your kids or let them play! It also makes teaching more fun for you and your child.