Why shouldn't you leave school?

Social skills: School does not do enough! What students should really learn

Soft skills in particular qualify schoolchildren and school leavers for a successful professional future. | © Sonya Etchison / Shutterstock

The special survey of the fifth Pisa school comparison test published in spring 2014 showed that 20 percent of German schoolchildren are overwhelmed with solving everyday problems. It is precisely the soft skills, such as digital and social skills, that qualify students and school leavers for a successful professional future in addition to specialist knowledge.

That's why we looked at what skills every student should be able to master by the time they graduate from high school and what you as parents can do to prepare your children for life after school.

Social skills - in and outside of school

1. Independent work

On Google, in online databases and forums, you can find an answer to almost any question with the right search terms and a few clicks. During school time, children can ask parents or teachers for advice on this and in the event of other difficulties; At university and especially in professional life, everyone is rightly expected to work independently. Students therefore not only have to learn to research and simply copy and paste the results, but also to answer questions themselves, to question answers critically and to have confidence in themselves.

As parents, you can support your children on their way to independent work at an early age. For example, be B. at the Homework only close by and only intervene when an urgent question arises. In this context and also when studying for class work, explain to your children where they can research questions, what aids are available and how the Internet can be used sensibly. In our free Parents guide "Learning on the Internet" you will find some tips and checklists for learning with apps, online platforms, Internet videos and the like.

In addition, you can also encourage your children to be independent outside of everyday school and learning: for example, let them order food for the whole family themselves in the restaurant or give them the task of buying tickets for a trip to the zoo . With smaller children you should of course first do this together and then gradually take back some tasks - learning by doing is not a very effective learning method for nothing. More creative learning methods for students

2. The seasoning lies in brevity

In everyday working life, it is important to find and communicate solutions quickly. Students must therefore learn to ask key questions and provide precise answers. In classrooms, however, there are never-ending discussions without a goal, point or conclusion. While this can be very instructive, it should never be an end in itself. It is similar with homework and classwork: the more you write, the better. It is beneficial if there is a limited answer space available that must not be exceeded.

Unfortunately, school education is too often about minimum requirements in terms of quantity: the homework should be done on at least five pages, the essay should consist of at least ten sentences. In the university it goes on like this. Only with the Bachelor thesis are there limitations. And then many of the young adults have a hard time with that.

Later, when it comes to presentations in the company or a summary is to be written for the supervisor, it means: a maximum of ten charts, a maximum of one A4 page. So it is high time to teach maximum values ​​instead of minimum requirements for length during school days. On the other hand, there should only be minimum requirements for the quality of the work.

You as well Parents can help and promote this competence outside of school as well: Train your children to summarize essential information. This does not only have to happen in the school context: an advertising flyer, a newspaper article or a film is just as suitable for short summaries as a text from a school book.

3. Teamwork: together successfully to the goal

Of course there are schools that place particular emphasis on cooperative forms of learning and teamwork. However, today's education system primarily assesses the individual achievements of the students and dismisses a large number of individualists after graduation.

In the professional world, beginners will have difficulties with this strategy: Those who are not able to work in a group, lead a team, share successes and deal with defeats together will quickly reach their limits. It is above all physical education that promotes these social skills at school.

You should therefore encourage your child's ability to cooperate outside of school as well: Leisure activities such as team sports or playing a musical instrument in an orchestra strengthen your child's team, communication and conflict skills and thus their social skills, which are also important for school.

4. Social commitment for good togetherness

Willingness to help and tolerance, also towards other cultures, are among the key qualifications of every career starter today. You should introduce your children to these values ​​at an early age so that they become a matter of course in adulthood.

Depending on the interests of your children, you can e.g. For example, suggest volunteering that teaches important social skills outside of school: Your child may enjoy helping with children's services or holiday programs for younger children. In sports clubs, too, your child learns to show consideration for the weaker, to work in a team and to stand up for others.

5. Self-organization - the prerequisite for effective learning and working

Organizing the learning material or the work on your desk in such a way that you can master them successfully is one of the most important skills in everyday working life. From to-do lists to helpful project management tools - schools today should definitely teach strategies that children can use to learn to work independently. This also includes the ability to prioritize tasks and learn that breaks, after work, weekends and vacation are important for balancing.

Alternative schools such as Montessori or Waldorf attach great importance to the subject of self-determined learning.

Help your child organize themselves: A tidy, clear desk is just as important as being able to create a schedule and master different learning techniques - and then of course after completing tasks, the afternoon or evening with a delicious ice cream and to end a great board game.

6. Effective learning - for a lifetime

Index cards with vocabulary or math formulas, colorfully marked texts that direct the eye to the essentials - those who master different learning strategies suitable for their learner type have a clear advantage in school, at university and in everyday working life. Bring some variety into your child's everyday learning with memory games or a learning material quiz. The article "Successful learning - the most important requirements" provides detailed information on the subject.

Because learning should not and will not stop with school or studies: The keyword here is "lifelong learning" - the school must therefore also prepare for later life and must not completely ignore social skills: because in the end comes The young adults benefit not only from the school material in their work, but above all from the various learning techniques and strategies for acquiring knowledge. It is therefore very important to teach children the fun of effective learning at an early age.

7. Show respect and esteem

In today's fast-paced society, there sometimes seems to be a lack of time to say “please” and “thank you”. It is therefore all the more important that parents set an example for their children in dealing with others in a respectful and polite manner. To blame the school for these social skills is not enough.

So encourage your children to offer the older lady a seat on the bus. In this way they learn to take on tasks, to put themselves in the shoes of others and to put their own interests aside from time to time. The latter should of course not always be the case: a healthy self-confidence is just as important as the ability to back off.

Important competencies in times of digital media

Today's students are the first generation to grow up with new media such as the Internet and its myriad possibilities. In recent years in particular, the importance of the computer in everyday life and at work has increased significantly - a life without the Internet and a PC is already unimaginable today. Regardless of whether it is a Powerpoint presentation in the school report, discussions with the university professor or customer contacts on the job: a growing part of daily life takes place on the computer.

In addition to imparting social skills, it is therefore essential to familiarize students with the new media outside of school and to train their digital skills. We have therefore taken up three important digital skills for you at this point, which are already very important during your school days:

Write an E-Mail

Anyone can write e-mails, but there is often a lack of comprehensibility. E-mails with a clear addressee, a clear subject, clear questions, a clear time horizon, clear tasks are desired - sometimes less is more. Despite all the brevity: An official e-mail must be worded as correctly and politely as a letter. However, written orality is widespread among students, primarily through chats and instant messaging. Sensitize your children to the right tone depending on the addressee or the occasion. For your friend or relative you can sometimes use a more casual phrase, but the teacher should be treated more politely. Just ask if your children might know the differences themselves. Work out a checklist with Do’s and Dont’s together, which you print out and put next to your computer - so it is ready to hand when you write an e-mail.

PowerPoint - Skilfully present work results

Information of all kinds is presented everywhere in the academic and business world with Powerpoint. As practical as the tool is, it needs to be learned how to use it correctly. Therefore, children and young people should learn to create clear and well-structured presentations.

Let your child give you the presentation and pay particular attention to the presentation of the whole: it should only be a supportive element. Too much text, images or numbers distract the speaker from the audience, too many effects confuse the listener. Instead, the focus should be on the most important information, not on overlaying the oral presentation.

Use social networks responsibly and critically

Many school leavers are not aware of the omnipotence of social networks: Facebook or Twitter posts about their last employer, their last vacation or a wild party are visible to many. The HR department reads about the party excesses and the friends from the last meeting. However, banning your child from social networks or even the Internet completely is not a solution in the long run. Rather, you should make it clear to your child what effects his or her actions on the Internet have. Is it really supposed to tell the whole world through a Facebook post that they think the math teacher is stupid? Is it okay to post pictures publicly on the internet without the consent of the people depicted? You can also find valuable tips for parents and children in the article on media literacy and in the online learning guide.

The list was inspired by Guy Kawasaki, who wrote a similar list in 2006.