21st Century skills & learning skills

A changing world, requires new knowledge and skills for our children to live happy lives. 21st Century skills refer to the life and work skills and habits that are critically important to student success, especially as students move on to college, working life and adulthood.

21st Century skills are furthermore broken down into 3 categories: learning skills, literacy skills and life skills. It’s important for teachers to not look at this list and feel intimidated. These skills shouldn’t be seen as additional work or extra tasks to teach in the classroom. These skills are quite practical, you may be surprised how easily they can be implemented into the classroom and the lesson plans you already have in place.

This week, we are focusing specifically on the first category of learning skills, the four C’s. Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration & Communication. The 4 C’s tie in well together and children need to be equipped with all four of these skills to help them succeed in their future. It's important to instil them in our young people early on as these are the skills that will stand to them when seeking out employment later in life.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking refers to thinking about something in a new way. Part of critical thinking would be problem-solving. Problem-solving can be something as simple as a maths problem or a puzzle however, how can we make this skill more applicable to everyday life? With the advancement of technology and the internet, we are inundated with information from a young age. A huge proportion of this information is ‘fake news'. Children and students are faced with determining what’s real and true and what’s fabricated and exaggerated. This is a real modern-day problem to be solved that could make for an interesting and engaging class lesson.

For example, there are so many ways we can promote critical thinking and problem solving in the classroom; brainstorming, working in groups and incorporating different points of view. Click here for a free creative problem solving activity worksheet you can use with your class. The activity is from the Magical Leaders programme, a 21st Century skills programme provided by Zeeko.


Creativity is commonly only associated with talents, for example, music and art. However, creativity comes in all forms. We can foster creativity in the classroom by enabling students to look at problems and solutions from different perspectives. Creativity can be taught and fostered by encouraging children to try new things and by creating a safe space for them to express themselves. Thinking inside the box = equals bounded rationality. If we understand the limitation of our thinking/ creative thought process we can start to find a solution to this human limitation If we teach students to look at problems they face in the classroom with creativity, they can carry this skill through their lives. 

For example, Rhyme time. Say, "I need a word that rhymes with cat." Pass the ball to someone once they give you a correct rhyming word. Keep changing the starting word and continue the game until all kids have gone.


Working together to reach a common goal is what life is all about. We learn to work together from the time we start school all the way up to full-time employment. Whether you are working as part of a team in an office, online or working for yourself you simply cannot complete everything alone without the assistance of at least one other person. It is important for kids to start learning how to problem solve and tackle issues in which the bigger picture involves more than just themselves. It can be difficult for younger children to a situation from someone else's point of view. However, if we start to teach empathy while they’re young and in the classroom, it can be hugely beneficial.

A great example of a team building classroom activity is a game called Storytime. Gather your students in a circle and give each student a picture of an animal, object, place, … You could also give each student a certain emoji, such as a snail, a church, skis, a dancer, a baby, and so on.

Now, start a story by creating an introduction of your own. The next student goes further on the previous storyline and adds an extra narrative with the picture they’re holding. This process continues until you reach the last student. Together, you created a very complex and creative story. Every student took part in the story. This game is ideal for promoting communication, as well as a creative collaboration.


Communication is key! However, communication is more than just being able to speak in a conversational situation. Communication puts listening, speaking, understanding, and asking questions all under one umbrella. For example, a child may be well-spoken in class, however, never actively listens to what is going on in the class. Now that we live in such a digital world, it is also important to teach children how to navigate digital spaces with responsibility. Online communication for kids is arguably becoming more and more the norm and unless monitored correctly students may find themselves communicating with the wrong people. Zeeko Education offers Internet Safety Seminars both online and on-site. For more information on how to book click here.


Learning skills or the four C's are skills that are likely taught in schools around the globe without teachers even realising. It might not always be so obvious when a specific skill is being taught. However, because these skills are so detrimental to survival in the modern-day world, by us as adults taking the time to identify which skill is being taught pre-lesson, we can make for a much more comprehensive lesson for our students.

Magical leaders

Zeeko’s Magical Leaders programme is a peer-led programme that helps students 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. For more information visit our website, or get in touch with the Zeeko Team today.