How to Teach Children the Skills They Will Need for Success in the 21st Century

Success in the 21st Century

The skills needed for success in the 20th century were quite different from those needed in the 21st century. In the past, going to school, doing your homework, and getting good grades was enough. In today’s rapidly changing world, where many jobs are likely to be replaced by robots, AI (artificial intelligence), and new forms of automation, it is hard to predict the specific skills that will be necessary for well-paying and engaging jobs in the future. The changes occurring in fields such as medicine, transportation, electronics, education, and manufacturing make the future uncertain. 

What does this mean for future jobs for our kids? The rapidity with which machines are replacing people suggests that people skills, or broader-based problem-solving, executive-functioning, social-emotional,  and “soft” skills that are adaptable, will continue to be valued. While there are many names for these skills, they are all suitable for the 21st century, and as a result, some educators have taken to calling them 21st-century skills. While some teachers and schools are teaching these types of 21st-century skills to children, it is also important for parents to learn about the skills their kids will need for the 21st century.   

At LearningWorks for Kids, we think that the use of games and technologies as teaching tools for 21st-century skills is an idea whose time has come. Games, apps,  and technologies are the best tools for teaching 21st-century skills since they are the best place to capture kids and their attention. 

We write extensively about how to use games, apps, and technologies to improve executive-functioning skills and provide services such as LearningWorks LIVE to put these ideas into practice. 

Here are some of our favorite strategies to teach children the skills they will need for success in the 21st century:

Teaching Kids 21st Century Skills Early By Iram Siraj: Considers methods that teach 21st century children and describes the need for evolving strategies. The article asks how we can bring 21st-century skills to young children and families. 

Ready for Anything: Preparing Children for the Future By Craig and Marc KielBurger: Describes how previously coveted jobs may not fit in the coming decades. This article discusses changes that can be made to set our children up for 21st-century success in jobs and in their lives.

Helping Young Children Build 21st-Century Skills By David Ross: Provides 10 of the best strategies to help children build 21st-century skills. It also describes distinct frameworks and guides to implement these strategies. 

How I Teach 21st Century Skills To 21st Century Kids By Kevin Hughes: Discusses real-life trial-and-error experiences of teaching 21 st century skills in an elementary school classroom and provides suggestions for what does and does not work.   

The Value of a 21st century Education By Maxine Driscoll: Describes why teaching 21st-century skills is so important for our children. Reviews the difference between a 20th- and 21st-century education and how parents can adapt and support necessary changes in school education and at-home learning.

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