We have talked about how excelling at academics is just one factor in determining a student’s success. For students to do well in the big, bad world, they need to be armed with certain soft skills. While your students will learn most of this knowledge on the job, it’s always helpful to get a headstart. Colleges try and help them through inter-collegiate festivals and competitions. At a school level, Annual Days, Sports Days and other such events help children hone their soft skills and prepare better for their future. Here are 10 valuable lessons your students can learn from such events:
Importance of Soft Skills
While hard skills (such as math and science) are distinct and easy to quantify, soft skills are less so. They consist of a variety of intrapersonal and self-leadership skills such as cooperation, teamwork, time management, and others. These “softer” abilities allow students to adapt and prosper in their careers ahead.
Organising the festival requires students to juggle multiple roles along with their academics. From planning the logistics and making arrangements to coordination with performers and other participants during the festival, students will learn to juggle multiple tasks at the same time, a skill that will greatly benefit them when they begin working.
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Every event has to be planned and executed within a budget. Give your students a chance to plan the expenses, get sponsors, assign funds and work within the assigned budget. This is a great exercise for students as it gives them an opportunity to cultivate their money managing skills early on in life.
Setting up an event involves dealing with various vendors for the venue, setting up the infrastructure, and handling every tiny detail, right from setting up chairs to timing performances and arranging for refreshments. Help your students make a list of things they will need, guide them through vendor sourcing and negotiating. Their organisational, negotiating and planning skills will grow well through such activities.
While planning an event, your students will talk to sponsors, invite guests, coordinate with various vendors and performers, and work with other students as a team. All of this requires a great amount of clear, effective communication. Guiding them through these activities will help them hone their communication skills.
Fundraising and sponsorship are topics you learn as a part of an event management course. If your students have any aspirations of getting into the events industry, they could benefit from learning how to raise funds and get sponsors at an early age.
Give your students a chance to develop their marketing skills by getting the whole school – and others, if it’s possible – about the event. Let them go all out with a marketing strategy, talk about the event on social media and even put up posters all around the school. Teach them how to work with marketing budgets; this skill will benefit them across different sectors.
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However brilliant and capable your students are, they need to know how to work with others in a team. Activities like organising an annual event will teach them how to come to a common consensus, work with differing opinions and talents, and come together to achieve a common goal.
The best way to learn how to solve problems is to actually solve real problems. While organising an event, your students will face setbacks. This is a great opportunity for them to think analytically, come up with solutions, weigh their pros and cons and implement the right ones.
The sense of achievement that comes from planning an event and seeing its successful execution is bound to boost your students’ confidence! You could even advise the planning team to take on juniors under their wing for the next year, helping them work on their leadership skills!
10. Teamwork and Leadership
Most organisations require you to work in a team. Even if a person were to choose a ‘solo’ career path, they would eventually have to work with someone else at some point during their career. Individuals find it difficult to transition into the professional world because they “work better alone.”
Make it a point to imbibe the team spirit within your students at an early age. You could arrange for team-based sporting events, assign group activities and projects for students, or even have them sit with someone new every month. Through these activities, you can also help students build on their leadership skills as they learn how to work with others, understand each other’s difficulties and support each other to reach their end goal.
11. Written and Communication
You must have come across quite a few students who know the “right answer” or have something important to contribute but refrain from doing so – either because they are not confident or they don’t know how to put it in the right words. This doesn’t just stop at school. Even in organisations, a lot of individuals tend to lose out on promotions or are unable to voice their ideas, simply because they don’t know how. Furthermore, the rise of texting lingo has caused further damage to their communication skills. While every individual does not need to be a great speaker or writer, it is important to at least know your basics. Help students work on their language skills by organising discussions and debates in class and encouraging all students to participate. You could also have them write something every day – apart from their school work – so they get used to expressing themselves through words.
One of the most important skills individuals need is the ability to cope with the problems they face. A lot of freshers suffer struggle to cope with the sudden change in environment and responsibilities. It is, therefore, important to teach students how to approach and overcome problems early on. Try conducting activities with your daily lessons. For example, if you’ve just taught a history lesson, ask students to brainstorm on ways the protagonist could have avoided certain problems that came their way. The best way to have students learn to deal with problems is to let their creativity run wild and think of a solution themselves.
13. The Internet
Today, the internet has become a part and parcel of our lives. You’re teaching a generation that grew up with smartphones and relies on Google to answer everything from academic queries to life questions. It’s easy to simply dismiss the internet as ‘addictive’ or ‘harmful’, but the internet is here to stay and you can’t keep your students away. What you can do is help them learn how to use it right, how to spot what’s real and what’s fake online, and how to not get overwhelmed by the abundance of information available online. Instead of hating the internet, make it your friend – yes, it can help you too! Include articles and videos in your lessons, suggest reading material your students can refer to. Recommend websites that share updates on what’s happening around the world or in their field of interest, and discuss them in class.
14. Financial Management
Millennials are rather vocal about how schools failed to teach them useful basics like managing their finances or paying their taxes. While they learnt mathematics from a young age, they didn’t necessarily learn how to apply it in real life. Most individuals struggle to write a cheque and don’t necessarily know how savings accounts work, let alone how to fill out loan applications. It’s time to include these conversations in the classroom, and give students a clear idea of the kind of responsibilities they will take on in the near future. Arrange for workshops in school about banking and finance or a session on the importance of filing taxes and how to do it. Explain these learnings as an activity while teaching students the theoretical part under subjects like economics and mathematics.
15. Technological Awareness
Artificial intelligence and technology are evolving at a rapid pace that’s equally amazing and alarming. Most job roles are evolving to incorporate technological advancements. While many jobs are getting wiped out, they’re also being replaced by newer, smarter jobs. Students need to know their options before they go about making career decisions. What if your students pick a career and spend the next five years studying for it, only to have it disappear by the time they’re ready to start working? The curriculum isn’t evolving fast enough to raise awareness about these changes, so it is up to you to help them understand what their reality might look like when they join the workforce. Spend some time doing research on technological advancements, and add them to your lessons in class. You could even make it a part of students’ homework; they could look up the relevance of what they’ve learnt in the context of today’s world. Discuss their findings in class and answer their questions – this will ensure that your students know what lies ahead.
Soft skills only get better over the years, and the sooner a child begins honing them, the more they will gain from such skills in the future. Annual festivals are a great platform to help your students develop the skills they will later thank you for!
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