c_icon b_icon si_icon a_icon piao_icon loud_icon message_icon exclamation_mark_icon
The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog
a_icon b_icon c_icon
The CURIOOKids Malaysia Blog

Learning Futures Skills Gives Children an Advantage in Life
By Paul Blackstone

We send our children to education providers with the belief that they will help us to prepare our children to solve real-world problems – if this is not the reason, then why are we paying money to educate them!!

The realities of modern society necessitates preparing children early for the technical and core skills they need to do well in life. As students’ progress from the critically important early learning phases of Kindergarten to Primary School and then to Middle/High School, there are fundamental skills and behaviours that a child must be developing.

Some of the skills are foundational technical that give a strong advantage in their schooling such as communications, numeracy and digital/technology related. There is also the vitally important set of core skills and competencies (often called soft skills) such as:



Children must learn to work in teams. Even if disagreements occur, hands-on projects teach children to work towards a common goal, while also learning self-control, empathy, time management and negotiation

Problem solving: 

Students discover answers from their own questions and research theories. From this, students learn to think critically, observe and analyze situations in order to form creative solutions based off of problems. 

Communication skills:

 Communication skills are crucial to any role. Through problem solving, students learn to effectively communicate, both in writing and orally. Children will learn to say what they mean and explain ideas.


 Failure is an important part of finding solutions. Children learn that there often is no single “right” answer to most challenges. This type of learning removes the stigma that stems from failure and builds resilience to keep going, and encourages it as a positive way to learn.

Leadership skills: 

During teamwork, leadership skills arise through actions, especially through project management. Common to any job, the “unofficial” project manager will help to establish roles, responsibilities, set priorities and influence opinions to make decisions.

As society around us changes, and the speed of that change is getting faster and faster with the global nature of trade and skill-sharing (outsourcing, global supply chain etc) and the rapid adoption of new technologies; as a parent, it is very challenging as we need to teach these life skills and also the important in-demand technical skills so our children are fully prepared for a successful life.

The Fastest Growing Occupations
Almost all of the 30 fastest-growing occupations in the next decade will require at least some background in Technology and Design.
These skills are highly practical and cannot be taught effectively using traditional teaching methods such as a single subject with its own curriculum and no linkage between other subjects that complement them or demonstrate to children how and where to use their acquired skills and knowledge. In fact, most education systems are moving away from this approach as it has no practical relevance to the needs of our society for highly-trained and socially competent employees.

A good example is the learning of Technology related skills which are becoming increasingly popular due to the high demand by companies for digital skills as our society rapidly adopts new technologies and becomes increasingly digitized.

It is important that children develop a digital mindset, a set of skills that allow them to understand how and when to use technology. We have a new generation of children, Generation Alpha, that are the first generation to be surrounded by integrated digital devices from birth. This generation will learn how to control technology for their own benefits, rather than being controlled by technology as previous generations have become.

While many schools and supplementary education providers have quickly launched technology teaching programs, they are facing significant challenges in the retention of their students. The retention is generally exceptionally low as students do not understand how these skills are relevant to the world around them.

Let’s Solve Real-World Problems

Teaching specific skills such as coding, circuits, robotics etc is important, but it means nothing if students do not understand why they need to learn these skills and how the skills are complementary to a wider set of skills related to human behaviour and their own experiences. The objective of teaching technology skills is not to train your child to be the modern day ‘physical labourer’ behind a screen spending endless hours coding. The objective is to provide your child with the skills to solve……real-world problems and add value to society and/or the company they work for. To do this, learning coding or robotics or HTML is not enough, children must learn how humans interact with the product or service they are improving or developing. And as coding becomes increasingly easier, product design and development becomes the in-demand and high-paying jobs of the future which involve processes such as design thinking, idea generation, prototyping, market research and generally, encouraging more entrepreneurial skills in our children.

We also often see this in Art classes where a parent encourages their children to develop their creativity skills which is great, but most children quickly become bored after a few painting classes because they cannot see a practical use of these skills. The reality is that most children will not go on to make a career as an artist. But there are fantastic jobs and opportunities being created in the area of design.


Design for Humans

As every service and product we interact with is becoming digitized, how humans interact with the product and service must be researched and designed to maximize the marketability of the product and the user experience. Art skills are very useful as an early step to design but quickly the curriculum needs to develop the digital art skills such as multimedia, 3D animation, simulated and virtual worlds. Children love the development of these skills as they are practical and aligned with their own usage of technology such as through games, virtual worlds and videos. When we teach children these creative design skills, they have immediate context. 


For our young designers, the stimulation of interest in the areas of digital art, leads to a desire to understand the technology that is the foundation of the experience they are trying to create. The connection between design and technology is clear.


The Failure of Language Learning

One of the clearest examples of the failure of learning a skill without context is in language learning. The traditional methodologies of focusing on grammar and the memorization of target language has time and again been proven to be a highly inefficient learning methodology, especially when it comes to English (and European) language as the method is only suitable for a very few learners. We see so many of the app and online developers, with no educational knowledge simply repeating these same mistakes but using new technologies.


Students drop out of language learning, including English, because they cannot connect with the context of the learning and its relevance in their daily lives. This leads to boredom and low retention. For parents, who know that English language skills are important, it causes friction within the family as they strive to improve the education and workforce options available to their child. 


Being Curious Improve Learning

Research demonstrates that when a child (and adult) is curious about the subject or skill they are learning, they are highly active and motivated learners which leads to significantly improved knowledge retention of that particular subject and the other subjects that are complementary to the core subject. When we combine the interest or aptitude of the child with English learning, suddenly the child is motivated as they have a reason and purpose to learn the language. This shows the importance of subject integration and no longer silo-ing learning for children.


Give Your Child An Advantage

Too often parents with good intentions are sending their child to a particular learning institution to improve the skills of the child in the area of specialization of that institution. The learning though is boring for the child because they do not understand the broader context of the learning and the bigger picture of how the future skills our children need to learn are integrated.


We can give children a significant advantage in life when we improve the effectiveness of learning and improve our investment (time and money) in education when we follow these steps:


1. Children learn better and retain more when they understand the context of their learning

:: make sure the learning experience is highly practical and connected to real-world examples, problems and tools


2. Children quickly become bored if the learning does not have an immediate relevance to their life:

:: the learning must use the same environments the children interacts with so it has immediate relevance


3. The future skills subjects (Entrepreneur – Technology – Design – Communication) cannot be taught in a silo-ed manner, they are highly integrated and complementary to each other which reflects the realities of life

:: silo-ed learning fails as it doesn’t take into consideration the reason why learning the skill is important


4. The future skills are highly practical and cannot be taught effectively in a traditional or theoretical method

:: hands-on and therefore, active participation is required which makes them much more enjoyable and fun to learn


5. There is no use in teaching purely technical skills. 

:: all skills must be taught as a complement to building the core skills and competencies we all need to be successful in life – teamwork, creativity, problem-solving, resilience and leadership

When our learning subjects, skills and methods take into consideration the realities of the demands required to be successful learners, it stimulates curiosity in the child and accelerates their learning and the development of a very clear understanding of their aptitude and interest. Leading to an advantage in attaining success and fulfillment in life – the best gift a parent can give their child.