Believe it or not, the Christmas holidays are actually a great opportunity to teach 21st Century Skills. I know what you're thinking, homework is the furthest thing from our minds as we prepare for the arrival of Santa and family time. The beauty of most 21st century skills is that they can be taught in practical ways. The whole ethos of these skills is that they are practical life skills that will help our children succeed in life in higher education or after education. Although there are programmes and lessons in place for children to learn these skills at school, they are often reinforced and really absorbed at home.
In particular, for younger children, the giving and receiving of gifts is a huge opportunity to encourage different skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity and even critical thinking. Let's explore how and why together.
During the school year, we are usually occupied with the daily routine of the school run, getting home, dinner, homework, bed and repeating until the weekend. And the vast majority of that weekend is usually dedicated to prepping for the following week. With so much of the school day taken up by coursework, often there isn't a huge amount of time dedicated to the more artistic subjects. The Christmas period is a great opportunity to allow children to unleash their artistic skills and be as creative as they possibly can. And remember, being creative doesn't have to mean painting a picture. Creativity can come in all shapes and sizes. For example perhaps your child-like storytelling, or making up games or discovering new things. Any act that creates something new is a creative act and should be encouraged.
Christmas is a time for spending time with others. Siblings and cousins are reunited after not having seen each other in months. It's such a great opportunity to encourage children to do activities with their family members. They can develop this skill by working together as a team with family members and friends. We all remember the talent shows we used to perform that make us cringe now but helped us more than we realised at the time. Encourage group activities rather than individual activities to help them understand the acts of sharing ideas, turn-taking and social skills.
With the increase in socialising around the Christmas period, it's a vital time for children to develop their communication skills by talking to more adult family members. This is especially important for children who are quieter and struggle to speak up when spoken to. Make a conscious effort this year to allow them the opportunity to answer for themselves. Also, with other younger family members, ask them plenty of questions and get conversations going. Even if it is difficult to understand them, make an effort to engage with them and encourage them to verbalise their thoughts.
Critical thinking doesn't sound like a fun Christmas activity. However, when you break it down, it is essentially just problem-solving. As adults, we will be more than used to problem-solving as we try to manage the busy Christmas period! A great way to introduce the skill to younger people is through board games. . Engage your kids to solve quizzes and puzzles during their leisure period at home. This helps enhance the critical thinking ability of your child. Also, involve them in some minor decision-making processes in the family for example 'What time will we visit our Grandparents if we need to be back for dinner at 3 PM?'. The more you let them understand that their ideas are welcome the more they feel comfortable and confident to contribute in their own way.
The Magical Leaders Programme
Zeeko’s Magical Leaders programme is a peer-led programme that helps children develop 21st century and transversal skills. The programme is engaging, fun, and interactive! The Magical Leaders programme is fully developed, with detailed lesson plans and instruction manuals included. Funded by Enterprise Ireland, the programme is currently free to schools in Ireland. For more information visit our website, or get in touch with the Zeeko Team today. And make sure you share the programme with your child's teacher. Hopefully, your children will have the opportunity to meet the Magical Leaders in the New Year!