According to World Health Organization (W.H.O.), Life skills is defined as “as the abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”. Based on this definition, W.H.O. also came out with three main categories of Life skills – Social, Emotional and Cognitive skills.
Qatapultt’s research & experience over the years has expanded the set of skills to include other relevant areas with the changing times. These include financial literacy, safety (online & offline), character & values, etc.
Why is Life skills important and needed?
To under the need for Life skills, let us first categorize skills in general as technical (subject knowledge like Mathematics, Science, Engineering, etc) to non-technical skills such as team work, relationship building, leadership, communication, etc.
Technical & Non-technical skills together make up the individual’s personality and capability to perform certain roles and responsibilities. For example, if a student wants to become a software engineer/programmer then some of the areas that he/she would learn is programming languages like C++, Java, Python, etc and other areas like web design, graphic design, etc.
These technical or hard skills are important no doubt to get a job. But this is not enough. In order to showcase what one has programmed or designed, they need to communicate with their managers, be part of a team and work together achieving common goals, be creative in solving problems, adapt to different situations, face situations with emotional strength, work etiquette like managing time, etc. These skills also have to be developed along with technical skills.
Technical & non-technical Life skills go hand in hand to develop a holistic personality that can handle situations, perform the role to its fullest and enhance the organization’s reputation.
What is well-being and how is it connected with Life skills?
A dictionary definition would say “the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”. In order to attain this state or to sustain thereafter requires specific skills to be developed over a time period.
Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the U.S. provides the following definition of well-being collating from different sources:
“There is no consensus around a single definition of well-being, but there is general agreement that at minimum, well-being includes the presence of positive emotions and moods (e.g., contentment, happiness), the absence of negative emotions (e.g., depression, anxiety), satisfaction with life, fulfilment and positive functioning. In simple terms, well-being can be described as judging life positively and feeling good.
For public health purposes, physical well-being (e.g., feeling very healthy and full of energy) is also viewed as critical to overall well-being. Researchers from different disciplines have examined different aspects of well-being that include the following.
As you can see, almost all of the above requires certain skills to be developed over a period of time including Life skills.
What are the connections between Physical, social & emotional well-being?
According to experts as well as our own experiences, the evidence is clear—physical activity can make you feel better, function better, and sleep better. According to CDC, even one session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduces anxiety, and even short bouts of physical activity are beneficial. Being physically active also fosters normal growth and development, improves overall health, can reduce the risk of various chronic diseases.
How does this connect to emotional well-being? If your physical health is good then it automatically boosts your mental well-being which is related to emotions. Managing emotions during tough times and situations is essential to succeeding in corporate life. Physical activity also reduces stress thereby leading a better healthy lifestyle.
Social well-being is essential to have good relationships with peers, family, friends and strangers. Physical activities through team games and competitions help in developing healthy relationships. While developing relationships, one encounters multiple challenges and issues that needs both parties to resolve amicably. This also strengthens the bond between them which is essential for social well-being as one can rely on each other.
Other benefits of Physical activity that is related to social & emotional well-being are:
How Life skills contribute to better academic performance & results?
Life skills augment academic/technical subjects that children/students learn. For example, student’s focus, concentration, attention span, time management, goal setting, learning styles and many other areas can be enhanced or imparted to better their current performance. Moreover, these skills are imparted in a fun and non-intrusive environment where they are not pressured to learn something that they are not interested.
We have seen significant improvements in many students once we learn their strengths and improvement areas. These skills are imparted for Life rather than for specific exams. Hence learning these skills helps in their professional life too!
How well-being skills contribute to better academic performance & results?
When students are physically active, emotionally strengthened and have good relationships their body, mind is at ease. This helps them to ward off stress, prioritize their lives, focus on their strengths and develop a good personality. Their self-confidence and self-esteem improve significantly and they are able to perform better and better as they acquire and imbibe skills for well-being.
Are there other options available as an alternate to tuitions?
Tuition is usually seen as an extension to school with fewer number of children – providing individual focus and attention. Whether a parent sends their child to a tuition centre or not the overall objective should be to make sure that the child learns the concepts thoroughly instead of rote learning.
Beyond the subject learning (i.e. Mathematics, Science, Social studies, English, etc), there are many skills, techniques that can be mastered which will improve their overall performance. On one hand, there is a definite linkage between Life skills, Physical activity to academic performance.
On the other hand, there are other areas such as how to learn, learning styles, developing interest, different ways of learning, etc that are needed to maximize a child’s performance.
Qatapultt’s programs like Champ360, academic enhancement and others can be looked at alternatives as they help in imparting skills for sustainable success over their lives.
Why do students in schools need to develop Life skills and well-being skills as it might be years before they join the workforce?
In today’s world, many students excel in subjects with marks above 90%. In fact, the number of students who get more than 90 or 95% has increased year on year. How will the interviewer/company differentiate between hundreds of candidates having the same percentage?
Secondly, technical/subject knowledge alone is not enough. There are various soft skills (communication skills, Team work, Emotional intelligence, Leadership, Creativity, Adaptability, etc) that are needed to perform well and progress in their career.
Life skills and well-being skills needs to be developed right from the young age just like subjects like Mathematics, Science, etc. Willingness to change one’s attitude, behaviour becomes difficult as students get older. Moreover, for any skill to develop, it needs continuous practise over a period of time just like technical subjects.
Parents as Facilitators
With Covid-19 spreading across the World and school closures for the past few months, it has become necessary for Parents to engage their children at home – directly or indirectly. Though there are online classes are available from most of the private schools, Parents have to make sure that their children do not deviate or succumb to unnecessary/unwanted online content. Hence the need for monitoring and observation.
Digital or online learning is not equivalent to physical classrooms prevalent in schools and cannot reproduce the same environment. Parents can bridge the gap to some extent but becoming facilitators.
A facilitator is one who instigates a certain thought process, be a guide, asks the right questions and helps in whatever way they can in the learning process. They can also act as a bridge between the school teacher and the child in making sure the information travels both ways.
Parents as facilitators help the parent to understand the child much better, their strengths, improvement areas, likes/dislikes, etc. They need not be knowledgeable on any subject but be a friend/mentor to the child. This in turn builds a cohesive and friendly atmosphere at home.