It is for these reasons that life skills education is an important aspect of Primary school curriculum. This write up aims at discussing the possible strategies that a Primary school teacher can use to develop the following skills in the pupils they teach: critical thinking, decision making, assertiveness, peer pressure resistance and effective communication. The term life skill will be defined. Life Skills have been defined by the World Health Organization (2003) as abilities for adaptive a positive behavior that enables individuals to deal effectively with the demands of everyday life.
According to Mumble (201 1) states that, life skills re those skills which will assist an individual to interact with his or her environment as independently as possible. EUNICE (2012) defined life skills as a behavior change or behavior development approach designed to address a balance of three areas which include knowledge, attitude and skills. Blackman (2005) propounded that, the term life skills refers to a large group of psychological and interpersonal skills which can help people make informed decisions, communicate effectively and develop coping and self management skills that may help them lead a healthy and productive life.
The rite defines life skills as those skills that permit an individual to problem solving appropriately and responsibly in life situations. This implies that, one is able to explore alternatives, weigh pros and corns and make rational decisions in solving each problem as it arises. Besides, it also includes being able to establish productive interpersonal relationship with others. Checkouts (2012) propounded that life skills are the abilities that help to promote mental well being and competence in young children as they face the realities of life.
Life skills are of paramount importance in one’s life specially to the children at primary school level. According to EUNICE (2012), life skills provide school children with strategies to make healthy choices that contribute to a meaningful life. Also, they help children to take positive actions to protect themselves and to promote health and meaningful social relationships. Moreover, Life skills facilitate a complete and an integrated development of individuals to function effectively as social beings. Furthermore, they enable children to develop a concept of oneself as a person of worth and dignity (Drew and Rankin 2004).
Life skills education is a alee addition programmer for children to understand self and to assess their skills, abilities and areas of development (WHO 2003). Also, life skills education allows children to get along with others, to adjust with their environment and making responsible decisions. Besides, the education builds up children’s values and helps them to communicate effectively. Bell (2006) defines critical thinking as an investigative, logical and diagnostic manner. Suggested by Actinium (2012), critical thinking means an attempt to understand what really constitute a problem and thus influences decision making.
The same author went on to say that, critical thinking means analyzing the problem and what may have caused it to emerge. It is an ability to a identify health problems so as to seek appropriate help. The skill also helps children analyses information pertaining the germs, viruses and HIVE and AIDS. Critical thinking contributes to health by helping children to recognize and assess the factors that influence attitudes and behavior such as values, peer pressure and the media. Critical thinking implies that, once the problem is understood as to its cause and its components, the next step is creative hinging.
A process of making informed decisions is called decision making. Defined by Drew and Rankin (2004) decision making is the process of making a choice from a number of options and committing oneself to a future course Of action. Mumble (2011) stated that, decision making is the study Of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision maker. Checkouts (2012) also stated that, decision making involves weighing each option. The author went on to say that, it helps to deal constructively with decisions about life.
The writer defines decision making as process of sufficiently reducing uncertainty and doubt about alternatives to allow a reasonable choice to be made from among them. Making decision implies that there are alternative choices to be considered and in such a case one wants not only identify as many of these alternatives as possible, but to choose the one that best fit with his or her goals, desires, lifestyle and values. It is important to note that every moment of our lives we are making decisions. The decisions made today affect or determine our lives tomorrow. Therefore, it is critical that the art of decision making is perfect.
Assertiveness is also an important skill which Primary school teachers need to impart to the children they teach. According to the oxford Dictionary of Current English (1998) to assert is to declare, to state clearly. HIVE and AIDS Curriculum (2005) define assertiveness as the ability to state a positive view and to maintain that view when opposed or pressured to change it. According to Blackman (2005) maintains that assertiveness refers to an individual’s ability to express his or her views, opinions and feelings without violating the rights of other people. It helps people to defend their personal pace or boundaries.
Young listener need to be helped to develop this skill at a tender age. Before a teacher thinks of supporting learners to develop assertiveness, he or she should be assertive him or herself. In this skill, children should be able to say ‘no’, to resist sexual abusers, to access health services to which they are entitled to and to apply problem solving skills in order to make positive and correct decisions in their lives (HIVE/AIDS Curriculum 2003). Also, the skill helps children to know what sexual abuse or molestation is, how it can be prevented, and where to find help in the case of actual or attempted sexual abuse or molestation.
It teaches young children to distinguish between different kinds of touch. At their tender age, young children need to be skilled on how to resist peer pressure. Peer pressure is a term describing the pressure exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change their attitudes, values, behavior and morals to conform to the group’s actions, fashions, senses, taste in music and television or outlook on life (Mumble 2011 According to UNESCO (2006) tied in Checkouts (2012) peer pressure is a strong pressure to an individual to adopt the attitudes, values, behavior and thoughts of his or her peer group.
It may be negative or positive. Peer pressure is being pushed into something that one did not have courage to do. Resistance according to WHO (2003) requires empowering children with the following life skills which in turn will influence their ability to resist peer influence. These life skills include application of negotiation skills, being assertive, relating with positive socializing agents and developing and upholding positive values system.
Peer pressure resistance helps children with the knowledge on how to deal effectively with peer group pressure, meaning that, children will be able to know how to keep their bodies safe and healthy and how to avoid harmful behavior such as sniffing glue, drug and alcohol abuse. Effective communication is another life skill which teachers at Primary school should equip children with. Communication is the fuel that stars a relationship and keeps it going. This relationship can be with parents, a boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancee, spouse or with God.
Communication is the sharing of information, ideas, experiences and emotions (EUNICE 2006). Effective communication is the exchange of ideas, feelings, opinions, wants, needs and actions verbally or non-verbally. It entails sending accurate information and receiving feedback that the message has been received without distortion. According to WHO (2003) effective communication means that children should be able to express themselves, both verbally and non-verbally in ways that are appropriate to their cultures and situations.
This implies being able to express opinions and desires as well as asking for advice and help in time of need. Effective communication helps children with the knowledge on how to conduct relationships with significant others, and with friends of the same and opposite sex and hoe to cope with strangers. Besides, it can be enhanced by clarity of message, use of appropriate language, observing appropriate timing, active listening, asking questions, observing non-verbal actions or reactions and considering the type of audience.
Effective communication helps pupils to clarify ideas, correct misconceptions, share experiences, reduce stress and provide feedback for improvements. The life skills scudded above can be taught to pupils using a number Of strategies which include case studies, brainstorming, role play, debate, songs and dances, poetry and recitals, story-telling games just to mention a few. This write up focuses on the first five. A Primary school teacher can use case studies to develop critical thinking in the pupils he or she teaches.
Defined by Mumble (201 1), a case study is a true or imaginary story which describes a problem, situation or a character. According to Buyer (1995) quoted by Drew and Rankin (2004) views a case study as real life story that describes in detail what appended to a community, family, school or to an individual. It describes a situation that a group has to discuss or a problem that a group has to solve, it has to be simple, realistic and useful if it is to make participants want to discuss it. It may be a dilemma in which pupils should come up with options on how they would solve the conflict.
Actinium (2012) suggested that, case studies offer clue on how to solve a problem or provoke the reader’s ability to solve the problem. Therefore, they should be interesting appealing and relevant to the readers imagination. Case studies aim at summarizing details ND are designed to stimulate thought (EUNICE 2006). Furthermore, case studies help learners make judgments and help them to study in depth problems in a given environment. Drew and Rankin (2004) maintained that case studies are powerful catalysts for thought and discussion.
Students consider the forces that converge to make an individual or group act in one way or the other, and then evaluate the consequences. By engaging in this thinking process, students can improve their own decision making skills. Case studies can be tied to specific activities to help students practice healthy espouses before they find themselves confronted by a health risk. In this case the teacher must act as the facilitator and coach rather than the sole source of answer and knowledge. Brainstorming is another strategy that can be used by teachers to impart life skills in the children they teach.
According to Jackson (1992) cited in Bell (2006) brainstorming is a technique which involves inviting spontaneous responses from participants on a certain subject. Defined by Bell (2006), it is a method which is used when seeking different views on opinions of a given situation, establishing the entry behavior of pupils, exploring new concepts, encouraging involvement of all participants and building consensus or agreement. Brainstorming is referred to as brain bumping and brain dumping since it is a fee expression of ideas among participants or in this case, learners on a given issue or question.
A teacher may pose a problem, for instance, what are the steps in the decision making process? The learners will give their ideas, opinions, feelings spontaneously (Checkouts 2012). All the suggestions should be noted down and the teacher should guide pupils in selecting and numbering the suggestions in the sequence manner in decision making and on selecting ideas relevant to acquisition of the appropriate life skill. Brainstorming helps ideas to flow and so generate ideas quickly. The method allows children freedom to express ideas they might normally withhold because there is no fear of judgment from the teacher or any other child.
Life skills can be taught to children at Primary school through role-play. Defined by Macaw (2005) role-play involves presenting small spontaneous plays which describes possible real life situations. According to Checkouts (2012) role-play is the unconscious acting out and discussion of the role in a group. Gateway (1990) views role-play as a spontaneous, organized activity in which a player pretends to be someone else. The writer defines role-play as an informal determination in which people act out a suggested situation.
It involves setting up situations in which members play different roles as required by the concept being taught. In a classroom situation, it allows pupils to make mistakes in a non-threatening environment. Besides, it allows pupils to practice situations before they meet them in real life. In addition, it provides an excellent strategy for practicing skills, experiencing how one might handle a potential situation in real life, increasing empathy for others and their point of view and increasing insight into one’s own feelings.
The teachers role is to describe the situation to be role-played, select players, give instructions to the role-players and discuss the outcome with the class. Debate is also an important strategy in the teaching of life skills in primary schools. Sterling (2001) defined debate as a discussion which involves two Opposite parties tit each group expressing opinions or views about a given topic pr subject. It is a technique which provides forum for discussion. A debate focuses on the pros and cons of an issue (Gateway 1990).
In a debate, there are two teams, each of which argues for one side of the issue. Each group competitively attempts to win the other to their side of the argument. At the end of the debate, the group with more points is declared the winner. Sterling (2001) stated that, debates help students clarify their own thinking and develop skills of presenting arguments in support of their thinking. In this way the life of radical thinking will be developed in learners. Debates help pupils appreciate different views of others. Besides, they correct misconceptions and explain any views experienced in the debate.
This helps participants, who are the children to reach a conclusion as per intended motion objective, thus developing decision making in pupils. A debate provides an opportunity to address a particular issue in depth and creatively (UNESCO 2001). For instance, pupils can debate, whether smoking should be banned in public places or not. This allows pupils to defend a position that may mean a lot to hem, thus developing assertiveness and peer pressure resistance in pupils. Debates also offer a chance to practice higher thinking skills. This develops critical thinking in children.
The role of the teacher to make sure fruitful debates take place is to provide students with time to research their topic and to maintain control in the classroom and to keep the debate on topic. Songs and dances are some of the strategies which can be employed by Primary school teachers in imparting life skills in the children they teach. Songs are musical compositions on topical issues and themes. They may convey messages on contemporary issues in the society (EUNICE 2006). Songs can be used in character building where positive characteristics or values are reinforced.
Sterling (2001 ) propounded that songs can be used to develop and strengthen life skills such as self awareness, communication skills and conflict resolution. Songs are useful when one wants to pass positive cultural messages in an interesting manner (EUNICE 2006). The songs can be composed by the teacher or he or she may request the learners to compose some or use already existing ones. Songs may be accompanied by a dance. According to Checkouts (2012) dancing involves co-ordination of body movements which generate joy and cheer among participants thus improving communication skills in children.
Dances are interesting, appealing and have an immediate impact on the listener which is long lasting and memorable. Story-telling is also a strategy teachers at primary school level can use to equip the children they teach with life skills. It is the conveying of events in words, images and sounds often by improvisation or embellishment (Fink 2003). Stories have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and in order to instill moral values. The story can be from the teacher, children or from books. Pictures, comics, photos, novels, film strips and slides can supplement.
Children are encouraged to think about the story and discuss important issues such as, health related issues, abuse, HIVE/AIDS. Propounded by Checkouts (2012) story-telling encourage pupils to explore their unique expressiveness and can heighten their ability to communicate thought and feelings in an articulate and lucid manner. Besides, children become verbally proficient which enables hem resolve interpersonal conflicts non-violently. The teacher’s role in story- telling is provide and keep the story simple, to make the story dramatic enough to interesting.
He or she should include situations of happiness, sadness, excitement which will encourage serious thought, decisions and problem solving behaviors. This write up explored some of the life skills needed to be equipped in learners at primary school level. These include among others critical thinking, decision making, assertiveness, peer pressure resistance and effective communication. It also discussed strategies to be employed by teachers to engender such awareness in the children they teach. The methods are case studies, brainstorming, role play, debate and songs and dance.