Did you know that the top 10 in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004? Are we equipping our children with skills for the jobs that don’t yet exist? iSchool for the Future is helping children gain 21st Century Life Skills that will help them be resilient, confident and collaborative adults, innovators, and leaders.
21st Century Life Skills – also called Social and Emotional Life (SEL) Skills and embodied as Emotional Intelligence – are essential for success in school and life. More and more employers are looking for emotional intelligence over knowledge of content. However, few schools and traditional academic programs directly teach 21st Century Life Skills. Enrichment programs are a vital way to build the competencies that employers want.
Teaching these 21st Century Life Skills is at the core of how iSchool for the Future helps children. Our approach is based on research that shows that preparing children for success in college and beyond requires investment in core social and emotional skills such as being able to respectfully disagree, elaborate on their reasoning, be resilient, and persevere. Dr. Peter Salovey, President of Yale University and a pioneering researcher in Emotional Intelligence said: “It’s as fundamental as math or science in terms of turning a child into a capable adult.”
Indeed, having these skills is essential for to children to even master math and science in the first place. As Psychology Professor Maurice J. Elias writes, “the skills students must possess to successfully master the content of the Common Core and to find themselves advancing in college and/or careers … [include] social and emotional competencies.”
Children love it when they are given the flexibility to be creative while they are learning
iSchool for the Future offers a progressive curriculum for children in grades K-8 based on a suite of 15 core 21st Century Life skills. We introduce the youngest children to each skill individually and always within the context of fun, hands-on Creative STEM activities. As children advance, we layer more complex academic and SEL content. For children in mid-grade levels we integrate the the 4Cs into each activity: Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity. This mimics the more comprehensive skillset and multitasking abilities that children will need as they get older.
Children learn about polymers through a collaborative game
Even at more advanced academic levels, instruction must be fun, hands-on, and appropriate to multiple learning styles. For instance, in one lesson we mix fun, tactile ingredients such as fake snow and magic sand into a Polymer chemistry activity that has children testing assumptions and thinking critically about molecular expansion, working collaboratively to model a polymer in a game, and communicating new, creative uses for polymers. It’s a unique combination that only iSchool for the Future offers!
Questioning assumptions and experimenting with fake snow developed Critical Thinking Skills
Our approach works. Both parents and students regularly provide glowing feedback indicating the child’s growth in 21st Century Life Skills:
– “[My daughter] was so inspired by the program.” – Parent, Innovation Lab 2015
– “I learned that I can do it – but I can do it better – if I work with a partner.” – 4th Grader, Innovation Lab 2015
– “It actually feels good to embrace failure. It reminds me that everyone makes mistakes and I can learn from my mistakes. I’m a lot smarter than I thought I was before I started Innovation Lab.” – 3rd Grader, Innovation Lab 2015