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What is expected of your child?
For decades, the first thing that sprung to mind when parents thought about properly preparing their children for success was getting them to pass a school readiness test with flying colours.
But the world is changing. Schools, specifically private schools, are now calling for a wider approach. “Being intelligent is in itself no longer a ticket to success”, they say.
Over and above being ready to learn to read, write, do math and commit facts to memory at school-going age, today’s children need an extra set of skills that enables them to practically apply their smarts in the real world.
That set of skills has aptly been dubbed “the 21st Century Skills”.
Most educators agree that there are five of these “super skills”.
- Learning readiness
- Critical thinking
Learning Readiness relates to how “smart” a child is.
Compared to children who are only partly ready, children who score well in school readiness tests will naturally have more fun learning to read and write, be more eager to explore new math concepts and be more successful as they process, retain and retrieve information. Nothing has changed in this regard. Being intelligent remains a great asset on anyone’s books.
The four C’s complete the picture.
Advocates of the 21st Century Skills say that 4 more skills are needed, over and above intelligence, to make it possible for children to put their smarts to work and practically apply their intelligence.
- Communication: Consider for a moment how much easier it will be for any person, at school or in the work place, to make his mark if he is excellent at expressing his thoughts in words, both in speech and in writing.
- Creativity: Imagine the benefits of being able to connect the dots when thinking about a problem. Today’s children are expected to gather facts from various sources and then put the pieces together to make a sensible whole. Connecting the dots in this way makes it possible for them to come up with new ideas and fresh solutions.
- Collaboration: In today’s schools, children work together in groups. They need to perform well in a group, accept and offer correction and guidance, and participate in the planning and execution of tasks. Being able to work effectively with other people is without a doubt a prerequisite for success.
- Critical thinking: A discerning thinker solves problems. Today’s children are expected to look at information critically. Being able to analyze and reflect on information and processes is crucial for answering questions like: “What worked well?” and “How can things work better?”
Practica lays the foundation for the 21st Century Skills by building supporting life skills.
The brain develops more during the first 7 years than at any other time in a person’s lifetime, so it makes perfect sense for proactive parents to want to lay a solid foundation for the 21st Century Skills as early as possible.
The good news is that the Practica Program lends itself perfectly for developing supporting life skills that serve as the “roots” of the 21st Century Skills.
- Practica builds the 50 brain tools. Every Practica game develops 1 or more of the 50 skills that are tested for school readiness. (We refer to them as the “50 brain tools”.) Parents first play games to discover a child’s unique strengths and weaknesses, and then simply play more games to develop weaker skills and prevent them from undermining a child’s potential.
- Practica builds Executive Function. This basically involves teaching children to focus their attention and complete tasks before sending them off to school. Practica trains children to happily follow instructions, plan, start at a certain point, patiently follow steps and stick to a task to complete it.
- Practica builds a Growth Mindset in your child. Every Practica activity is part of a long sequence of graded activities, so instead of being discouraged by a mistake, children can recap earlier games to sharpen their skills before trying again. They literally discover through play that they can grow their abilities at any point.
- Practica builds Metacognition. Being able to think about one’s own thinking, what you know and how you learn, opens up a whole new world. When you do things with your child, ask questions like: “What did you just do? What are you going to do next? What do (and don’t) you know about this?” and “What worked well?”
- Practica builds Emotional Intelligence. Children need to learn from experience to identify and deal with their own emotions and do the same with other people’s emotions. They also need to learn how to motivate themselves and learn to think positively in difficult situations. There is simply no better place to learn these skills than in the safety of a loving parent’s presence.
- Practica builds Connectedness. It’s difficult for today’s parents to slow down and stoop to their child’s level so that they can to do things that will make him feel connected and grounded. Children develop deeper roots and respect parents more when they share memories of having fun while overcoming challenges and celebrating victories with them.
Practica has been building these supporting life skills all along!
Interestingly, Practica parents have been successfully developing these supporting life skills in their children since the inception of the programme in 1993 – by simply playing the games and following the original instructions.
Nonetheless, the concept of the 21st Century Skills is particularly exciting to us as it is finally giving us the words and terminology to describe what we have been seeing in our Practica children all these years.
It naturally also inspires us to elaborate on Practica and focus on how our parents can benefit even more, by doing more of what works.
If you are a registered Practica parent, you will be receiving a series of “equipping” e-mails early next year to assist you in this regard.
Parents who are interested in investing in a Practica Program are more than welcome to visit our stall between 1 – 4 December at the upcoming MamaMagic Expo at the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg.
We will absolutely love to connect with you.
The Practica Team.