21st Century Skills

The CCEI May Newsletter provides great information about project based learning (PBL), a teaching tool that uses long term investigations into real-world challenges as a curriculum approach.  When children collaborate, explore, and problem solve together, they use valuable skills that will serve them well in academics as well as their chosen career fields.

There is a set of skills that have been identified by experts known as 21st Century skills. These are the things children should develop throughout their education that will prepare them to be career-ready when they leave school.  As it turns out, PBL is an excellent teaching tool for helping children strengthen these 21st Century skills.

The skills are organized into three categories.

Learning Skills:

  • Critical thinking – the ability to look at a problem from different perspectives, evaluate ideas, make connections between concepts, use reasoning skills, and make a case for a particular course of action.
  • Creativity – developing original or unique outcomes and perspectives, building something new and innovative, and thinking outside of the box.
  • Collaboration – working with others in productive ways, learning to give and take, and listening to the perspective of others to develop an agreed upon plan.
  • Communication – being able to share thoughts and ideas effectively using verbal, nonverbal, and written messages.

Literacy Skills:

  • Information literacy – the ability to comprehend facts, statistics, and data in order to determine what is true and what is untrue.
  • Media literacy – being able to identify trustworthy sources of information and recognize credible media outlets.
  • Technology literacy – the understanding of how technology works.

Life Skills:

  • Flexibility – the ability to adapt to new situations and changes in the environment.
  • Leadership – being able to guide others through a project or situation effectively, which is not a skill reserved only for people with titles.
  • Initiative – working independently and doing things without needing to be told that they should be done.
  • Productivity – staying on-task and producing quality work in a timely fashion.
  • Social skills – having the disposition to be able to work well with others, understanding the needs and motivations of others, and building strong working relationships.

These are the skills that have been identified as necessary skills for success in a 21st Century workplace, regardless of the field or occupation. Early childhood education may be focused on early literacy and math skills, but limiting learning to these narrow topics will do a disservice to the children in your care.  Engaging children in meaningful and engaging learning experiences, such as project based learning, can help children build a foundation of skills that will contribute to their success in their future endeavors.

Learn more about these and other important career-readiness skills that can be promoted in the early years by checking out these resources:

A Comprehensive Guide to 21st Century Skills – https://www.panoramaed.com/blog/comprehensive-guide-21st-century-skills

21st Century Skills – https://www.edglossary.org/21st-century-skills/

What is Career Readiness and How DO You Teach It?  https://www.aeseducation.com/blog/what-is-career-readiness