Fostering 21st-Century Skills at Home

21st century skills homeschooling Feb 16, 2022
fostering 21-st century skills at home

by Dean Burgess from 

At Dignity of Children, we bring innovative programs into schools and youth organizations to empower and inspire youth. However, nurturing tomorrow’s leaders isn’t limited to classrooms and educational settings. In fact, some of a child’s most critical character development happens at home.

Through modeling, teachable moments, and everyday experiences, parents shape their child’s habits and behavior. However, while every parent knows the importance of a healthy diet, active lifestyle, and good education, not as many understand how to raise children with 21st-century skills.

How can parents do more to support their child’s development and foster 21st-century skills like communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration? Use these ideas to bring 21st-century learning into your home.

Model a Success Mindset

A healthy relationship with money and a success mindset go hand-in-hand. When young people understand how to manage their money, they become empowered to reach their goals.

  • Talk about money. Money shouldn’t be a taboo subject. The key to age-appropriate conversations about money is to avoid worrisome details and instead, focus on what you’re doing as a family to budget. Teach children to plan ahead for purchases and show how earning and saving help them reach their goals.
  • Avoid comparison. Comparison can lead to dissatisfaction and discouragement. Encourage children to take satisfaction in their own hard work rather than comparing themselves to others and be mindful of the way you talk about peers' and neighbors’ financial well-being.
  • Set goals for yourself. Children take note of how their parents handle financial struggles. When you’re dissatisfied with your financial position, take action to improve it. Higher education can feel out of reach for many working parents but the wide variety of online bachelor’s degrees available today makes a college education far more accessible than in the past.
  • Encourage passion. As you think about your next steps, encourage children to start something of their own. Talk to children about their strengths and interests and when youth have a new passion or idea, nurture it. Even crazy ideas are an opportunity for children to develop their entrepreneurial skills through brainstorming and research.

Foster Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is one of the most important soft skills for the 21st century. Emotional intelligence empowers children to get in touch with their own natural ability, express themselves effectively, and solve problems collaboratively.

  • Encourage self-expression. Resist the urge to “fix” your child’s feelings and instead, validate them and encourage healthy coping methods like labeling their emotions and practicing deep breathing. This gives children the space to process and problem-solve on their own. It’s also an excellent way for parents to model active listening.
  • Pursue team activities. Whether it’s a team sport or neighborhood projects, working towards a common goal teaches children the value of collaboration, develops teamwork skills, and shows how working together accomplishes more than one person can achieve alone. 
  • Recognize strengths in ourselves and others. Targeted praise gives children constructive feedback for desirable character traits like honesty, kindness, and teamwork. Likewise, recognizing positive traits in others fosters empathy and relationship-building skills and helps children identify positive role models.

Think Bigger

Individual decisions have impacts far beyond a home’s four walls. When children see how personal choices impact local and global communities, they develop a foundation of understanding that leads to tomorrow’s creative solutions.

  • Get involved locally. Meeting neighbors and attending community meetings and events expose children to diverse people and perspectives while helping young people understand their role in the broader community. Try volunteering as a family or participating in a community service event to get started.
  • Don’t shy away from big questions. Connecting complex topics like climate change to a child’s life through conversations about weather, recycling, and conservation helps children understand global issues and replaces the anxiety of the unknown with curiosity.
  • Encourage hope and action. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by global issues, but taking action is one of the best ways to cope with the anxiety that big problems bring. Let children take the lead on household changes like composting or attending activist events and explore what experts are doing to make the world a better place together.

Parents and family play a key role in developing a child’s character, but they don’t have to do it alone. The iDEAS Empowered by Youth® program at Dignity of Children covers these skills and more through four modules on health and wellness, entrepreneurship, climate change, and financial wellness. iDEAS is designed to help young people discover their passions and make a difference in the world and can be taught in-person, online, or as a hybrid educational model. Learn more about iDEAS Empowered by Youth at Dignity of Children.


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