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Life skills class mushrooming, but not all live up to expectations

Update: July, 24/2017 - 09:10
Primary school students in Hà Nội attend a four-day ’Military term’ programme during summer vacation. The programme aims to teach the basic military skills of discipline, performing activities on schedule and teamwork. — VNS Photo Hồng Lan
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – Parents scurrying to send their children to the many life skills classes blooming in the big cities has been a trend that has been picking up lately. 

These classes, organised during the three-month summer vacation in Việt Nam, claim to train children on important communication and survival skills that can then be applied to real-life situations.

However, are these classes as effective as their numerous advertisements claim? It’s a question that has many parents worried across the cities.        

Many teaching centres holding classes for children aged between 7 and 14 in important life skills have been coming up.

These centres design the life skills programmes separately for each age group, and include various outdoor and indoor activities.

One such life skills teacher said children would be trained in self-efficacy, ability to analyse and synthesise issues, working independently or in a team, and ability to communicate.

Nguyễn Kiều Lan, a teacher at the Hà Nội Children Palace, said many parents created conditions for their children to succeed in all fields, but forget that an important skill is the survival skill, including escaping skills, knife-using skills, self-service, behaviour skills when lost, knowing to use money, and knowing the full menu for a meal, among others.

“Generally, such useful skills help children live independently under all circumstances,” she said.

However, according to pedagogical psychological experts, before sending children to life skill classes, parents should thoroughly research the content, curriculum, goals, specific experiences’ schedule, and the quality of teachers in the class.

In particular, parents should not rely solely on online advertisements.

Parents should send their children to specialised centres that teach life skills, rather than places where it’s only a coursework.

Nguyễn Ngọc Oanh, a mother of two from Hà Nội’s Hoàn Kiếm District, said initially she was confused about choosing the apt life skills class for her children. She then decided to choose a presentation skills class for her eight-year-old boy and leadership skills class for her 12-year-old girl.

“They (two children) study hard and are stressed during the whole academic year, so, during the summer, I want them to rest while honing the skills they lack.

“I was struggling to decide, because I did not know what to choose, as all skills centres are making attractive offers. At home, the children don’t have to do any housework, so teaching them to be independent is necessary,” she said.

According to the WHO, life skills are adaptive, and positive behaviour enables an individual to cope effectively with the needs and challenges of everyday life.

Life skills are divided into two categories: Psychosocial skills and personal skills. Personal skills consist of 10 elements: Self-awareness, creative thinking, problem solving, communication, coping with stressful and emotional situations, sympathy, commentary and critical thinking, decisiveness and negotiation.

In real life, many parents do not have the time to care and educate their children. They then entrust their children to teachers and educational institutions.

Many children have excellent academic record at school but lack basic living skills, or are good at theory, but lack practice. So, during the summer holidays, parents take children to life skills classes, hoping that these will provide step-by-step training to children.  

However, is a week, two weeks or a month, even two months of learning life skills enough to make children capable?

A complaint raised by a father was that at the end of her life skill class, his eight-year-old girl had only learnt to write a letter to her relative, which too had been copied from an online source.

According to experts, parents must remember that they are their children’s first teachers.

Việt Nam has a saying: “Teach children from their childhood.”

It means that before children enter the school, family is the foundation for their whole education progress, as well as basic life skills.

Thus, parents need to self-enrich their knowledge on life skills, through constant and close communication with their children, experts said.

Among the various types of life skills classes, the programme ’Military term’ received good and positive feedback from parents and children. A term, lasting from one week to two weeks, with the goal to train children as soldiers, it included teaching the basic military skills of discipline, performing activities on schedule and teamwork, among others. Though some parents complained about the teaching methods, the content far exceeded their expectations.    

 Prof. Phạm Thanh Nghị from the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences said the summer activities were necessary to supplement the children’s knowledge beyond the school curriculum.

Also, parents should be encouraged to play with children, and guide them in life skills at home to help them remain active before a new school year, experts noted. — VNS




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