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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Pandemic the right time to brush up life skills

Life skills include psycho-social competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.

Written by Nagina Bains | Chandigarh |
May 17, 2021 10:24:19 am
Life skills, cookingDeveloping life skills is a lifelong process.

The most famed tutor and taught story of the Shams of Tabrizi and Rumi churned out magic in the 40 days they spent in isolation in Konya.
It’s this kind of learning that one looks for in the midst of this pandemic when both the teacher and the taught function in a virtual world.

The pandemic management has instilled in us a deep deference for the educators who is expected to ensure that a toddler to a graduate is prepared to handle death, panic, fear, anxiety and uncertainty.

Gurpreet Bakshi, who is the face behind St Kabir School in Chandigarh, shares his experience of more than a few decades of preparing students to walk the path ahead of school. “Once an interviewer asked a candidate ‘How many balloons can you stuff into a Boeing 747?’ The candidate thoughtfully counter-questioned, ’Are the balloons inflated or deflated?’ And he got the job! Today’s generation, that is getting ready to join the work force, needs to hone their skills which are not limited to decision-making, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking, communication and interpersonal skills, self-awareness and empathy but also coping with emotions and stress.”

Universities, today, are questioning students about the kind of diversity they can bring to the campus. The hiring companies are looking for problem solvers and team players rather than mere academic achievers. Besides conflict management, entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills, the Gen Next also needs playful quotient, crisis management, combating fear and exercising the fight or flight mode. It becomes the responsibility of the educational institutions to ensure that they create an environment which helps the children be future ready, says Bakshi.

Geetika, a Montessori teacher with Vivek High School and a life coach, talks about her experience with toddlers. “It is vital to share facts that are age-appropriate and keep it simple. When it comes to Covid-19, we may say, ‘You know what it’s like to have a cold and sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? Covid-19 is just like that. When people catch this sickness, they stay home, and rest till they feel better. We have wonderful doctors and nurses who can help us treat it.’ “ Geetika says reassuring the children that they are safe was the most important message coming from us. “We tell the kids, ‘You don’t need to worry. Right now, lots of amazing grown-ups are working hard to keep us healthy.”

She also tells them about the simple things our family they can do to be “germ busters”.

Life skills have three basic components – compliment, supplement and reinforce each other. These three categories further include the cognitive or thinking skills, social or interpersonal skills and emotional skills. We all need life skills, and this is applicable to age groups. Developing life skills is a lifelong process. “Life skills enhance the higher executive functions of an individual. Higher executive function skills have been linked to success in school and life—health and wealth in adulthood—and have been shown to be even more important than IQ for future success. While science tells us that developing these skills is critical in the youngest years, they can be developed throughout life. Life skills include psycho-social competencies and interpersonal skills that help people make informed decisions and manage their lives in a healthy and productive manner.

In the year 1999, WHO had defined few common life skills which are essential. These are – Communication Skills, Decision-making Skills, Creative and Critical Thinking Skills, Empathy & Emotional Intelligence (or developing good emotional quotient), Assertiveness and Self-control and lastly, Resilience.

During this pandemic we all are spending a lot of time in front of the screens or gadgets which is having a great impact on our life skills, especially of children and adolescents. Their emotional skills are not developed and hence they are unable to express themselves fully. They might have a lot of virtual friends but very few real friends. They are becoming more insensitive to needs of others and are very low on empathy and resilience. Research has shown a direct correlation between mental health and life skills.

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