Life skills increase success for young children

Learn about the six essential life skills that help young children be successful students, youth and adults.

In 4-H we pledge our head to clearer thinking, our heart to greater loyalty, our hands to larger service and our health to better living. We teach youth valuable and important life skills through 4-H projects that help them become successful adults. Can we teach life skills to those children that are not yet old enough for 4-H? The answer is yes and we should be teaching our youngest children the skills that they will need to be successful youth.

So what are life skills? They are skills that we can help young children learn that will prepare them to be successful in their life. The Iowa State 4-H Targeting Life Skills Wheel identifies 35 skills that you should develop over time. Recommended by Michigan State University Extension, in the second edition of her book, Beyond Behavior Management the Six Life Skills Children Need, Jenna Blimes identifies six essential life skills as a starting point for teaching young children life skills in early childhood settings. These life skills help young children become successful students and productive adults. These six life skills were identified after years of early childhood classroom experience and are based on Resiliency Theory and Protective Factors.

By teaching young children these life skills you can help children become better prepared for success in school and life. The six identified life skills include:

  • Attachment: Focuses on a child’s relationship with adults both within, and outside their family
  • Belonging: Focuses on a child’s sense of belonging among their friends, classroom, family and community
  • Self-regulation: Focuses on a child’s ability to use their emotional skills such as labeling feelings, managing emotions and feeling empathy to build the foundation for self-regulation
  • Collaboration: Focuses on a child’s ability to work and play with others
  • Contribution: Focuses on a child’s ability to grow and learn new things and use those skills to benefit their family and others
  • Adaptability: Focuses on a child’s ability to be placed in different situations and adapt their behavior based on the requirements of the situation

Life skill development should start in early childhood by helping young children build the skills that will help enhance their academic successes and successes in life. If our goal in 4-H is to make the best better, then why not be sure that we are starting our youngest children with the best opportunities for success.

For more resources about teaching life skills in early childhood check out the second edition of Jenna Blime’s book Beyond Behavior Management the Six Life Skills Children Need.

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