Developing skills and abilities

Your children’s skills and abilities will be their most valuable asset throughout their lives. Skills are behaviors that we can learn and improve through practice. Every day, students are learning and practicing skills as they also increase their knowledge in the subjects they study. Abilities are closely related to skills – they are natural talents. We tend to think of singing as an ability because people are born with good voices and typing as a skill because it can be learned. Some of our strongest skills, however, are really well developed (practiced) talents.

In this Web site’s overview about why your children should explore careers, building foundation skills is discussed. Understanding what skills and abilities they have and what skills and abilities they need to reach their dreams is an important component of your children’s career development. Building their skill set and being able to talk about that skill set are key strategies for success in the 21st Century workforce.

As a parent, you can help your children learn about skills and abilities – their own and those that are used by others. You can help them develop a vocabulary of skill words. “I am honest, reliable, and organized. I can use the computer for word processing and spread sheets. I work well with others and can coordinate activities of groups. I am good at gathering and evaluating information. I have a high attention to detail.” Understanding that they have skills, that these skills are valued by others, and that they can develop the skills that they enjoy using contributes to self-esteem and motivation.

What kinds of skills should my child develop?

Skills can be categorized in many different ways. One helpful way to break them apart is to look at them as:

During elementary years through high school, your children are primarily developing employability and transferable skills. At the youngest ages, they begin developing their employability skills as they learn individual responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and integrity. They are also building basic skills required for functioning in any work situation through what they learn in school – reading, writing, arithmetic and mathematics, speaking, and listening, thinking creatively, making decisions, solving problems, reasoning, and knowing how to learn.

The Career-Related Learning Standards are one of four career-related graduation requirements in Oregon.

In fact the Oregon Board of Education requires that all students demonstrate important employability skills in order to receive a high school diploma. These are called the career-related learning standards; they incorporate personal management, teamwork, communication, problem solving, employment, foundations, and career development. You can help your children develop these skills by turning daily activities into opportunities for learning. Household chores, volunteering, and part-time work provide excellent opportunities to develop skills, especially those all important self-management skills. By focusing on the importance of these skills, you also teach that all work is important, necessary, and valuable.

How can I help my child with problem solving skills?

Problem solving involves math and thinking skills. Demonstrate an interest in mathematics and make math and problem-solving a part of the family routine. Here are some everyday activities that can help build them:

How can I help my child with communication skills?

Communication includes reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Keep lots of quality reading material around the house. Make visits to the library part of your family routine. Point out that pleasurable reading comes from good writing. Here are some ideas to develop better communicators:

How can I help my child with teamwork?

Teams are not only important on the athletic field. All aspects of life require people to work effectively as members of teams. Think of your family as a team, and use some of these ideas:

How can I help my child with other employment foundations?

Employment requires understanding and using tools and technology, working in organizations and systems, and following procedures. You can begin building these skills at home by: