The key purpose of education is to prepare your child for the future. This means that children should be taught the necessary life skills required to survive in this rapidly changing world. Therefore the emphasis of education must be on the all-round development of a child and not just getting good grades.
James Parker, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Emotion and Health at Trent University tracked students who joined in the first year and found that their marks did not predict who was going to drop out. According to him, “Lots of other things besides high school performance predict achievement later on.”
A child’s eventual success can be gauged by how well they have done in life and not just by looking into how much they scored in their school/college.
Don’t get me wrong. Grades do matter and there are several advantages of getting good grades. They include:
Good grades are confidence boosters: A grade is one way of measuring what your child has learnt. So, it’s not surprising that a study confirmed that 80% of students find self-confidence from doing well in the classroom. The study also confirmed that students with poor grades suffered from low self-esteem.
Good grades help you to easily gain entry into better colleges / get scholarships: There is no doubt that it’s easier to gain admission to a better college if your grades are good. Most of the prestigious colleges in our country look at how the student has performed academically. For example, last year, the average cut off marks for various departments at the prestigious St. Stephens College, New Delhi was around 96%. Hence, students must have good grades, even if it does not speak much of their abilities and knowledge. Good grades can also help you get scholarships if the college has provision for it.
Good grades make it easier for one to get a job: Most organizations will look for students with good grades. For employees, good grades are an indication that the candidate has a better ability to day-to-day tasks at work with the least amount of supervision. So good grades do become a means by which potential candidates are filtered for the next round.
While it is pretty evident that good grades do matter, they alone are not enough to prepare your child for the future. Nor can grades be the ONLY measure of a child’s success is life. Children also need to other life skills such as presentation, communication, collaboration and multi-level critical thinking skills to succeed. Let’s now look at few essential skills a child should be taught.
Good communication skills: The world is shrinking. Geographies, distances or nationalities do not matter anymore. Teams are spread across the globe and they communicate with each other either in person or via Video or Audio chats. Many travels to different countries on business. It is not surprising to find people of many nationalities attending project calls or interacting with each other. In such instances, having a good command over the English and possessing excellent communication and presentation skills are a must. Schools and parents must encourage their children to participate in seminars and workshops. Provide them ample opportunities to work with presentation tools. Schools should enable students to present their projects as part of the grading exercise.
Collaboration skills: Kids of today will have to work in teams, be it virtual or in person. To be an effective team member, one must possess strong collaboration skill as well. Here are some ways to teach kids to collaborate. Encourage your kids to participate in group activities. Enrol them in any team sports such as cricket or basketball. This will teach them to work in a team.
Critical thinking skills: One of the most important skills your child will need for the future is probably to think critically. As a parent, encourage your child to think critically by providing opportunities for play, helping your child develop hypotheses, asking open-ended questions by encouraging critical thinking in different ways.
Emotional intelligence: Is all about recognizing one’s emotions and having control over them. It is also about having empathy for others. These skills are vital for success, at both school and life. As a parent, teach your child to show empathy to others by demonstrating such behaviour yourself. Teach them to respect the other person’s point of view.
Apart from these skills, a few other life skills worth teaching include:
Money management: While schools do teach students about basic maths, profit and loss etc. many fail to talk about the importance of saving, managing a budget or their money. Parents must teach their kids to manage their money smartly. Start young. Tell them how banks work. Start a bank account for them if possible. Give them some allowance or pocket money and help them plan their budget. Show them how to work within a budget.
Professional Etiquette / Manners: Many people at work are bad at handling themselves in a professional or business setting. Many don’t know the right way to hold a knife or a fork. Many lack cultural sensitivity as well. Building this skills will help your child confidently manoeuvre through life.
Making a meal: Your child may have get an opportunity to study in a different state or country. Aim to make your child self-reliant by the time they finish their school education. Teach them some basics about cooking, preparing meals so that they can feed themselves if need be.
By paying attention to every aspect of your child’s life, you can bring about a huge change in your child’s attitude to studying. The right attitude can make them reach out to others, treat people with respect, act correctly, think imaginatively and collaborate better. More than teachers, you as parents can nurture these skills in your child and let them understand and accept that life is more than just passing an examination with good grades.