Do Your Kids Have the Real-World Skills…


October 26th, 2006

I love banana bread — a few key ingredients, blended together, given time to rise (with a little help from your oven), and poof — a delicious masterpiece.

What does banana bread have to do with success? The same basic recipe holds true in life — and the outcome may even be sweeter.

Skills are the main ingredient of success. Real-world skills, such as exhibiting proper social and business etiquette, selecting attire that is appropriate for a specific environment, speaking well and communicating effectively, and being able to clearly transfer your thoughts to paper, are some of the most important skills that will foster the successful growth and achievement of your child.

These skills, blended together with academic instruction, will create a strong foundation to support your child’s development. Over time, this foundation will enable him to rise to amazing accomplishments. As this happens, he will become more aware of the connection between skill-building and success. This, in turn, will motivate him or her to continue acquiring and honing the essential skills needed to succeed.

Since most schools do not emphasize real-world skills as part of their curriculum, parental coaching is a key component in helping your child to make this important connection.

Four of the most important real-world skills you should emphasize to your child:

Etiquette:  Reinforce simple courtesies by kindly reminding her to:

•    Say “please” and “thank you”
•    Stand and greet others when walking into the room
•    Give a firm and brief handshake when meeting someone
•    Hold the door open for the next person walking behind
•    Cover mouth when coughing or yawning, and nose when sneezing
•    Put napkin in lap
•    Wait until everyone at the table is served before starting to eat
•    Chew with mouth closed

By teaching and reinforcing good manners and behavior, you are laying the foundation for your child to exhibit proper social and business etiquette as an adult.

Attire: Explain that different situations require specific and appropriate attire:

•    A birthday party
•    The playground
•    A recital
•    School
•    Awards ceremony or sports dinner
•    A college, scholarship or job interview
•    The workplace

By allowing your child to pick out what she wants to wear and explaining why the outfit may or may not be appropriate for the environment, you will foster a habit of dressing for the occasion. As an adult, she will then have the ability to seamlessly integrate into different environments and to appear knowledgeable when it comes to making a positive impression with attire.

Speech: Help your child to speak well and to communicate effectively:

•    Encourage him to communicate feelings or needs by using words instead of crying, whining, or throwing a tantrum
•    Guide your child to answer the phone in a clear and polite manner
•    Exhibit confident body language and positive mannerisms that your child can emulate (i.e., smile, eye contact)
•    Use positive reinforcement to acknowledge when your child is listening instead of interrupting
•    Kindly correct your child when he misuses a word or uses slang
•    Do not ignore or condone your child’s use of inappropriate or profane language

By helping your child to speak well and to communicate effectively, you are paving the way for them, as adults, to be looked upon as innovative thinkers, skilled communicators and leaders. He will have the ability to easily adapt to the standards and requirements of different professional environments.

Writing: Foster a feeling of pride and achievement in your child through her written words:

•    Compliment homework that is neat and well-written
•    Reinforce strengths in creative writing, grammar, or spelling and constructively comment on areas that still need practice
•    Inspire your child to hone writing skills by asking a funny question and suggesting that it be the basis of a creative story
•    Explain what a well-written resume is, and why it is a valuable tool that is useful throughout life
•    Have your child begin to develop a resume as early as middle school
•    Begin to structure a resume by having your child:

1.    Write down some of the tasks, duties or responsibilities she has held.
2.    Keep a chronological list of jobs, including the dates of employment, position title and the names of her employers.
3.    Explain how she benefited the employer or company.
4.    List compliments or awards received for a job well done.

Skills are the building blocks of success — no matter what a person’s age or interests may be. The earlier a child learns the importance of exhibiting real-world skills, the more he or she will begin to use them in everyday actions. This is essential for long-term achievement because an empowered child will become a productive and successful adult.

Successful Strategies to Remember:

•    Start early exposing your child to the important real-world skills that he or she will need throughout life. How you teach the skills, what you emphasize, and goals and objectives may change, but the critical role these skills play in the life of your child will remain the same.
•    Emphasize the connection between acquiring real-world skills and the achievement of your child’s personal goals.
•    Practice positive reinforcement as a way to encourage successes and acknowledge effort, and offer constructive comments to facilitate further learning.
•    Be a positive role model. If you do not do as you say, the worth of your words will be immediately diluted.

Real-world skills are the ingredients that, when mixed with a strong academic foundation, can help students rise to become accomplished adults, and productive citizens — a definite recipe for success!

-Laura J. Katen,
NY Metro Parents Magazine, October 26th, 2006

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