Blog: Do Soft Skills Influence Academic Outcomes?
By Valerie DeGraw, Guidance Counsellor, ISA
As we prepare children for the future, how do we use the tools of today to ensure success as young adults? By teaching soft skills, along with academic skills, we are ensuring that our students can adapt to change despite uncertainty. We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare our students with dispositions that enable them to thrive in new or challenging environments.
Imagine someone using metacognition, flexible thinking, empathy, and practical teamwork skills as a person who will not only succeed in school, but also in future careers and aspirations.
At the International School Aberdeen, executive function awareness starts early. One of our pre-school instructors was recently working on dual coding skills with our very young students. Our fourth and fifth grade students have practised metacognition with flexible thinking activities. In middle school our health teachers foster citizenship, collaboration and empathy skills through service-learning projects.
As an IB Diploma school, our older students will learn how to question, reflect and inquire through our ‘Theory of Knowledge’ course - a key component of the International Baccalaureate program.
These types of soft skills are not only important, but they are also vital to thriving in an ever-changing world. Some of you may have read the popular children’s book, “The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires. The young character is presented with endless frustrating problems during a project. After first giving up, she learns to persevere, and thus creates something quite magnificent.
Perseverance, the ability to delay immediate gratification, is an important soft skill that will ultimately improve academic performance. Stanford professor Carol Dweck supports this approach, as outlined in her article, here.
Let’s not forget the soft skills needed for tomorrow, as we learn our ABC’s today.
Valerie DeGraw, Guidance Counsellor