What does it take to succeed in life in the 21st century, where the jobs your kids will have 15 years from now may not exist today? In a time of unprecedented change, critical character traits will serve your little ones better than getting top grades.
“Why do some children succeed in life and some fail? The long-held myth is that success correlates mainly with academic success and knowledge-based learning, but research now shows clearly that the factors that lead to future success have more to do with character, and home and school environments that nurture certain soft skills that build such character.
“When approaching early childhood education, it is important to reconsider what it is exactly we want our children to learn and to become. What will prepare them to succeed in a very different future and what truly counts in their lives as they grow up? (At Trehaus School, we don’t just ask our children, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Instead, the bigger question we pose is “how can you make the world a better place?”. )
“For centuries now, early childhood education hasn’t changed and has been focused on providing our children with head knowledge. But to guide students in life and to adapt to the changing world, we need to teach them competencies, not subjects. Our world is changing faster than ever before and we need to get our children ready for their tomorrow.”
Curiosity and creativity
“Children are natural-born learners and the role of teachers and parents should be to guide them in their exploration and foster their creativity, not to kill it. We need to nurture and encourage their natural inclination towards inquisitiveness in everyday life , welcome all questions and delight in the wonder they encounter in discovering new things.
“We try to create the environment for this in Trehaus School, by truly understanding each individual child’s interests and developing a safe space for children to explore, make mistakes and learn from them.
“A big part of how we do this is by providing an unparalleled 1:5 teacher: child ratio, that allows our children to build a strong bond with their teacher, allowing them to feel safe enough to explore and stretch their boundaries of learning, and also allowing the teachers the luxury of really understanding each child to personalise the education to that child’s interests , talents and learning style.
We teach children that there is ‘No failure, only feedback.’ Our project-based curriculum is designed to let children test out their hypotheses and learn through the process of trial and error and creative construction.”
What you can do to boost this character trait: Encourage your kids to ask ‘what if’ questions.
“It is so important that our children develop their capacity to imagine on top of their desire to know more, and parents can help them do so not only by answering their many questions but also by staying curious ourselves.
“Children of today need to learn how to think critically. We live in a digital and fast-paced world with an overload of information at our fingertips and the citizens of tomorrow need to have the ability to discern facts from opinions and sieve out relevant information from irrelevant noise. It is important to teach children to ask questions and learn how to process information to build conclusions wisely.
“A big part of being able to think critically is the ability to be open-minded. And parents can encourage children to practise the art of active listening , and the wisdom of not jumping to conclusions without considering all possibilities.
“At Trehaus school we try to avoid telling children what to do, but often ask questions to help the children draw their own conclusions on what to do.”
What you can do to boost this character trait: Reminding yourself to “pause, ask questions and listen more allows the child to think for themselves. Ask open-ended questions and encourage children to develop hypotheses, to practise thinking ‘outside the box’.”
“The world is being completely disrupted by technology, and 40 per cent of jobs today will not exist tomorrow, according to A.I. expert, Kai Fu Lee. In an A.I driven world, it is human interactions that can’t be replaced and it is interpersonal skills that will give our children an edge. Children need to learn to master social skills like collaboration, cooperation, teamwork and consensus-building.
“Our project-based ‘Littles’ Programme’ curriculum was designed to nurture these soft skills. From our ‘Little CEO’ programme where we build leadership, public speaking and effective communication skills, to our ‘Little Entrepreneur’ programme where we teach kids how to pitch, sell and understand customer mindsets, we have developed ways to nurture real world interpersonal skills. We also weave in ways to instil qualities like grit, resilience and empathy through each of our curriculum activities.
“Our school setting also allows us to make sure this real-world learning happens beyond the context of a classroom and beyond mere direct instruction from a teacher. Within the modern village that is Trehaus, the school sits adjacent to the business club with office space for working parents, a cafe, concert stage and outdoor urban garden, giving our children opportunities to interact with other children of all ages (we have a unique, research-backed mixed-age learning environment) as well as adults within the space. This bridges the gap between theoretical classroom knowledge and true social interactions and experiences within a real-life community.”
What you can do to boost this character trait: “Parents can also create opportunities to develop social skills from a diversity of experiences and social interactions, through involving children in a myriad of different activities, organising playdates with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and exploring different cultures and social norms through travel.”
“We believe true success lies in raising a generation that cares about the greater good. And we are hopeful for a world in which success is measured in terms of one’s positive impact on the world and in the lives of others. That’s why our mission at Trehaus school is ‘raising changemakers’.
In our ‘Little Philanthropist’ programme at Trehaus School, we start the kids early in thinking about how they can help the environment, care for the needy, and come up with ways to make a positive difference in small ways and large.”
What you can do to boost this character trait: Model this behaviour by becoming a changemaker.
“Volunteer at a local charity, take your child to help at a food bank, befriend the elderly in a nursing home, compost at home to encourage environmental sustainability or adopt a family pet from the SPCA; be the change you want to see. Parents will be surprised to see how quickly our children will embrace this changemaker mindset and touch our hearts with their capacity to care for others.”