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Play For The Future

Looking into a crystal ball, would be great to see the jobs of the future. And what would these be? The only real clues we have is that those jobs are unlikely to be ones that can be automated – if a computer, robot or artificial intelligence can do it, your child won’t be needed to do it. The other sure thing is a flexible minds and adaptability will be strengths that will come in handy!

Google recently conducted recruitment research called Project Oxygen to define the top 8 criteria needed to succeed at Google. This research gives us a clue as to what we need to foster in our children. And guess what! It’s not SKILLS – in fact the lowest of 8 criteria that Google look for is a Skill – STEM skills[1] – all other 7 criteria are SOFT SKILLS!

Soft skills are those intangible strengths that we need to foster in toddlers to set them up for success, happiness and lifelong learning. Here are the 5 Soft skills that Play Sense prioritizes (and the overlap with Google’s findings is incredible!):

  1. Collaboration – the ability to understand one’s own mind, the mind of another and make connections with other human beings is critical in the work world. For the two-year-old, this is best fostered in small group settings. When leaving home for the first time, your child should experience socialization in a protected and nurturing environment. This beds down the foundation for a collaborative mindset.
  2. Creativity – the ability to create something out of nothing, to envisage an end product and plan the steps to get there are critical to a creative mind set. Simple toys, free play and imaginary play lay the foundations for life long creativity.
  3. Self-Regulation – the ability to manage strong emotions, create a balanced response to changes in the world and to moderate one’s own behaviour is a vital part of learning and success. The only way a young child learns self-regulation of strong feelings and overwhelming behaviours is in the context of loving, empathic relationships. As parents and teachers, we need to be co-regulators – facilitating the development of self-regulation
  4. Executive function – the CEO of the brain – executive function plans the way to achieve something, weighing up all resources at one’s disposal. Executive function activates the plan, reassesses as one goes along and changes direction should the need arise. This mental flexibility and ability to see the bigger picture as well as the finer details is a critical soft skill. It is wonderfully developed as little ones embark on free play and imaginary games.
  5. Super Senses – the motivation, will and drive to learn, be challenged and the spark to engage are what we call the Super Senses – intangible soft skills that drive a child to master his world and develop a lifelong love for learning. Every education opportunity should nurture this magic quality. In the young child, play is the secret to igniting this fire. 


Play is the best way to develop these 5 Soft Skills.

Do not prioritize skill development too young.

Avoid overscheduling young children in formal skill-based education and extramural programs. Above all remember Play holds the Key!

[1] STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths

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