Thursday, August 2, 2018

Life Skills Education for School Children


v  Dr. S. Ganesan
Regional Director, IGNOU
v  Dr.T.R. Satyakeerthy
Assistant Regional Director, IGNOU

Our everyday life starting from sunrise to mid-night needs lot of skills to manage our day-time as well as might-time activities. The school going children learn such skills at home, school and outside environments.  But, all the children could not get same or similar skills for their life. Both the parents and teachers integratelly should try to upgrade the life skill education for the children. The process should be rapid to meet the growing requirements of children life.
We all witness the higher level skills in poor children as compared to rich children. Why it is so? The compelling situations make the learning fast and strong. Frequent re-occurrence of difficulty situations moulds the children to handle it wisely and skillfully. Due to this fact, the poor children are able to enhance their life skills of higher order.
Getting ready for school, catching the school van at right time at right bus stop etc, are normal day-to-day skills required for school children. Managing the school bags, tiffin box, water bottle, pencil box etc are few real life challenges for them. Students learn lot many things while travelling from home to school and back. The real world exposures gradually trains the children to manage the life.
In Mumbai, getting into metro electric train is treated as ‘Guinness   Record” for new traveler. To go to United States, the skill of cooking, skill of cleaning and maintenance of kitchen items are paramount important besides US-Visa. Doing everything independently in US, is not that easy life for our Indian school children. Even if you purchase a table and chair, you should have the skill to assemble it yourself without the help of carpenter. In other words, location –to- location, the life skills requirements also varies.
The following are some of common, important life skills required for school children:
Self-Awareness includes our recognition of ourselves, our character, strengths and weaknesses, desires and dislikes. It is learning about me as a special person. It is a pre-requisite for effective communication, interpersonal relationship and developing empathy.
Empathy is an ability to imagine what life is like for another person even in a situation that we may not be familiar with? It helps us to understand and accept others and their behavior that may be very different from ourselves i.e. understanding how people are alike and how we differ. It includes skills like-ability to listen, understand others needs and circumstances, ability to express that understanding.
Critical Thinking is ability to analyze information and experience in an objective manner. This include skills like-analyzing peer and media influences, analyzing attitudes, values, social norms, beliefs, and factors affecting them identifying relevant information and sources of information.
Creative Thinking is an ability that helps us look beyond our direct experience and address issues in a perspective which is different from the obvious. It adds novelty and flexibility to the situation of our daily life. It is the ability to analyze information and experiences in an objective manner. It contributes to problem solving and decision making by enabling us to explore available alternatives and various consequences of our action or non-action.
Decision-Making is process of making assessment of an issue by considering all possible/available options and the effects of different decisions might have on them. It is the ability to weigh the pros and cons of alternative and accepting responsibility for the consequences of the decision.
Problem Solving refers to having made decisions about each of the options, choosing the one which is the best suited and following it through the process till a positive outcome of the problem is achieved. In all, it is identifying problems, exploring alternatives and making rational decision. For developing these skills, one needs to have information –gathering skills, evaluating future consequences of present actions for self and others determining alternative solutions to problems.
Effective Communication is ability to express ourselves both verbally and non-verbally in an appropriate manner. This means being able to express desires, opinions, and fears and seek assistance and advice in times of need. Skills include-Verbal/non-verbal communication, active listening, expressing feelings, giving feedback without blaming, receiving feedback.
Interpersonal Relationship Skill that helps us to understand our relations with others and relate in a positive/reciprocal manner with them. It helps us to value and maintain relationship with friends and family members and also be able to end relationships constructively. It helps in working with others and understanding roles and constraints of others.
Coping with Stress is an ability to recognize the source of stress in our lives, its effect on us and acting in ways that help to control our levels of stress. This may involve identifying stress, time management, positive thinking and taking action to reduce some stress for example changes in physical environment, life styles, learning to relax etc. This is the important skill to be developed in children of the present world.
Coping with Emotions is ability, which involves recognizing emotions in others and ourselves, being aware of how emotions influence behaviors and being able to respond to emotions appropriately. It helps to understand that there are a range of emotions and the expression of emotions may be different for different people in response to the same situation. It may include managing anger, dealing with grief and anxiety, coping with loss, abuse and trauma.
Household related skills are needed to carry out our day –today activities in the house. It includes skills like cooking, balanced diet, washing clothes, sweeping and cleaning, kitchen gardening, health and hygiene, mending, stitching, thrift and household remedies.
Family related skills that are related to management of all the family affairs. All the family related skills such as planned and responsible parenthood, AIDS/HIV/ STD awareness, drug abuse, sex education, menstrual management, handling and stopping family violence, verbal and physical abuse, child abuse, sexual harassment, first aid (burn, injuries, snake bite drowning, poisoning etc.) home nursing, health and nutrition are included in it.
Accessing Public Services  skills relate to knowing and understanding of accessing and operating the existing public services for day -to -day functioning of life thereby benefitting family, community and society for improving the quality of life. It includes skills like post and telegraphs operations, rail/bus services, banking operations, accessing health and sanitation service, traffic rules and regulation and computer literacy including internet ticket booking.
Environmental Awareness relates to protection, conservation and preservation of environment, understanding the close relationship between human beings, their activities and the surrounding in which they live. The environmental related skills are: protection of environment, identification of pollution hazards and polluting agents, conservation of resources, recycling of bio -degradable materials for daily use, love and care for plants and animals, use of eco friendly techniques and disaster management (floods, earthquake cyclone etc.).
 Legal Literacy is important that children are made aware about laws that govern human life. These laws are essential to combat conflicts arising out of continuing deep seated inequalities of caste, class, religion and above all gender inequalities. It is important to build in our children, enough understanding and commitment to human progress through the content and process of school education. The key to all human developments lies in ensuring observance of laws and not enforcement by external agencies. This includes skills related to constitutional rights and duties, right to education, consumer education, human rights, rights of the child, right of women, personal and social laws, labour laws related to crime against women and public interest litigation.
Forms of life skills are Yoga, Sports and Games, Karate, Dance and Music, Art and Craft, Dramatics/Theatre, Community Service, Excursions & Adventure Camps, Competitions and Celebrations and Special Events etc.
Curricular and Co-Curricular Activities can include knowing Myself, Healthy Community, Love for Animals and Birds, Nutritional Snack Competition, How to Protect Myself, Know Your Rights, Managing Stress, Social Sensitivity, Water is Precious etc.
The IGNOU provides such life-skill education to parents, teachers through                        PG Certificate in Value Education (PGCVE). The moral education, life skill education are part of value education. Value education  has been designed to inculcate  the importance of value education in teaching learning process among teachers, teacher educators, graduates, NGO’s and professionals from corporate and other sectors. To orient the target group of teachers (mostly elementary) for integrating values in their transactional process of teaching and learning, To generate awareness and interest for inculcating positive values among teachers, professionals, students, parents and the community and to develop awareness and societal responsibility among NGO’s Government servants and civil society organizations.

Value education contains
* Over view and perspectives of values
* Social Dynamics and Value Development
* Pedagogy of Values
* application and support skills

To train our young ones, such professional qualifications or relevant education is highly essential. It is more true for nuclear family set-ups as compared to joint family system. Let us all try to communicate and transfer our acquired life skills to our school children.
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(The authors are Dr.S. Ganesan, Regional Director and Dr.T.R. Satyakeerthy, Assistant Regional Director of IGNOU, Regional Centre, Port Blair and can be reached at rcportblair@ignou.ac.in)

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