What are soft skills and why are they important?
Soft skills are personal characteristics that support emotional intelligence (EQ) and enhance our ability to understand each other. More specifically, soft skills are the traits that make us uniquely human. Skills that promote this human element tend to be a little less tangible and usually fall under the “soft skill” umbrella.
As changes in society and technology continue to accelerate with advancements in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, these skills will continue to be increasingly important to the success of our next generation. Children are living in a world where facts and information are at their fingertips and their most unique advantages could lie in those which make them uniquely human.
What are a few soft skills my child can learn through open ended play?
#1 Self Awareness- This is a buzzword lately in both corporate and organizational settings because of its increasing importance. It is defined as the understanding of one's own feelings, thoughts, characteristics, motives, and desires. Your child can learn this skill by taking charge of how they play and owning the decisions they make while doing so. This independence will allow your child to encounter varying emotions from the joy of a success to the frustration they feel when they are struggling with something. Taking time to help them reflect on their choices and emotions will help them develop their own self awareness.
#2 Growth Mindset- Similar to self awareness, when you allow your child to take the lead in their own play, you encourage them to experiment and explore their own creativity. Open ended play fosters the type of environment of infinite possibilities. This is the perfect environment for your child to try out new ideas or methods, with confidence. You can indulge them in this by praising their process over the product and encouraging continuous improvement.
#3 Communication- In a world of technology, getting your child to talk can sometimes be a challenge. Asking open ended questions is a great way to begin building communication skills because it discourages typical yes or no answers. Open ended play sets a wonderful stage to ask open ended questions and practice your child’s communication skills. For more information on open ended questions and some examples, please see our previous blog post, here.
#4 Collaboration- Working with others in an open ended play setting gives your child the opportunity to develop all of the skills mentioned thus far. When working with another during play, your child must communicate to understand the other person by deploying empathy and mutual understanding. Since your child does not have the complete freedom of working alone, they will need to practice self control by taking turns and taking another’s needs/wants into consideration.
Are there any soft skills that you want to help your child develop?