Teaching Soft Skills In Schools – Need Of The Hour

The traditional teaching context sets itself outside the main stream of life, outside the hustle and bustle of the local community. Some of the underlying premises of ‘institutionally based’ teaching are that it can best take place in a specifically designed place, at specific times, with experts specialized in teaching, using carefully selected material and according to a predetermined path. The result of this perspective with respect to learning is that the context created for teaching bears little resemblance to life in the rest of the world. In the real world, ignoring soft skills is the equivalent of sending kids into the woods without camping gear-or at least with nothing but a sleeping bag. There is a clear lack of soft skills among a large portion of students; that the problem is rooted in our existing educational system-which is primarily focused on imparting/acquiring ‘hard skills’, and that it must be tackled at student as well as faculty level.

Over the past few years there has been a growing awareness for the need for soft skills development among the academia and the corporate. Indeed, many institutes have also introduced a component of soft skills in the curricula. But these initiatives are the proverbial drop in the ocean. Most have not had the desired impact. There is a need to review the situation and develop strategies to overcome these problems without undermining the importance of hard skills. The plight of today’s children can be seen at subtle levels, in day-to-day problems that have not yet blossomed into major crises. Based on parents’ and teachers’ assessments, children on average were doing poorly in these specific ways: withdrawal or social problems, anxious and depressed, attention or thinking problems, delinquent or aggressive. This is a new kind of toxicity seeping into and poisoning the very experience of childhood. This malaise seems to be a universal price of modern life for children. No children, rich or poor are exempt from these risks. These problems are universal, occurring in all ethnic, racial and income groups. Learning soft skills is not just about learning manners, etiquette and English as is commonly perceived. Therefore, the indignant refrain from parents/educators of the middle class and wealthy that their children did not need such learning is totally miss-placed.

In the absence of good support systems, external stresses have become so great that even strong families are falling apart. The hectic-ness, instability and inconsistency of daily family life are rampant in all segments of our society, including the well-educated and well-to-do. If families no longer function effectively to put our children on a firm footing for life, what are we to do? As family life no longer offers growing numbers of children a sure footing in life, schools are left as the one place communities can turn to for correcting children’s deficiencies in soft skills, emotional and social competence. That is not to say that schools alone can stand in for all the social institutions that too often are in or nearing collapse. But since virtually every child goes to school (at least at the outset), it offers a place to reach children with basic lessons of living that they may never get otherwise. Soft skill literacy implies an extended mandate for schools, taking up the slack for failing families in socializing children. This daunting task requires that teachers go beyond their traditional mission.

As children change and grow the preoccupation of the hour changes accordingly. To be most effective soft skill and emotional literacy must be pegged to the development of the child, and repeated at different ages in ways that fit a child’s changing understanding and challenges. The timetable is intertwined with allied lines of development, particularly for cognition, on the one hand, and brain and biological maturation, on the other. The 5-year old, on entering the wider social world of school, enters to the world of social comparisons – being able to compare oneself to others on particular qualities, whether popularity, attractiveness, or skateboarding talents. From ages from six to eleven school is a crucible and a defining experience that will heavily influence children’s indolence and beyond. A child’s sense of self-worth depends substantially on his or her ability to achieve in school. A child who fails in school sets in motion the self-defeating attitudes that can dim prospects for an entire lifespan.

Puberty-because it is the time of extraordinary change in the child’s biology, thinking capacities, and brain functioning-is also crucial time for soft skills and emotional literacy lessons. Teen years-most of the adolescents are ten to fifteen years old when they are exposed to sexuality, alcohol and drugs, smoking and other temptations. The transition to middle school or junior high marks an end to childhood, and is itself a formidable emotional challenge. It is that this juncture that it helps to buttress boys’ and girls’ abilities to build close relationships and navigate crises in friendship, and to nurture their self-confidence. Those that have had their literacy classes find the new pressures of peer politics, the upping of academic demands and the temptations to smoke and use drugs less troubling than do their peers.

Soft skills and emotional literacy expands our vision of the task of schools themselves, making them more explicitly society’s agent for seeing that children learn these essential lessons for life-a return to the classic role of education. It also works best when the lessons at school are coordinated with what goes on in the children’s homes. That way children get consistent messages about soft skill and emotional competencies in all parts of there lives. In short, the optimal design of such programs is to begin early, be age-appropriate, run through out the school years and intertwine efforts at school, at home and in the community. It increases the likelihood that what children learned will not stay behind at school, but will be tested, practiced, and sharpened in the actual challenges of life. Another way in which this focus re-shapes schools is in building a campus culture that makes it a “caring community”, a place where students feel respected, cared about, and bonded to classmates, teachers and the school itself.

It would be nave not to anticipate hurdles in getting such programs into schools. Many parents may feel that the topic itself is too personal a domain for the schools that such things are best left to parents. Teachers may be reluctant to yield yet another part of the school day to topics that seemed unrelated to the academic basics, some teachers may be too uncomfortable with the topics to teach them, and all will need special training to do so. Some children too, will resist, especially to the extent that these classes are out of synch with their actual concerns, or feel like intrusive impositions on their privacy. And then there is then dilemma of maintaining high quality, and ensuring that slick education marketers do not peddle ineptly designed emotionally-competent programs that repeat the disasters of say, ill-conceived courses on drugs or teen pregnancy.

Soft Skills and Emotional Literacy improve academic achievement. This is not an isolated finding; it recurs again and again in such studies. In a time when too many children lack the capacity to handle their upsets, to listen or focus, to rein in impulse, to feel responsible for their work or care about learning, anything that will buttress these skills will help in their education. Soft skills and emotional literacy courses seem to help children better fulfil their roles in life, becoming better friends, students, sons and daughters- and in the future are more likely to be better husbands and wives, workers and bosses, parents, and citizens. A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s not just the kids with problems, but all kids who can benefit from these skills; these are an inoculation for life.

Children today have poor soft skills and emotional literacy because we as a society have not bothered to make sure every child is taught the essentials of handling anger or resolving conflicts in a positive manner. Nor have we bothered to teach empathy, impulse control, or any of the other fundamentals of soft skills and emotional competence. By leaving these issues children learn to chance, we risk largely wasting the window of opportunity presented by the slow maturation of the brain to help children cultivate a healthy emotional repertoire. Despite high interest in emotional literacy among some educators, these courses are yet rare; most teachers, principal and parents simply do not know they exist. The best models are largely outside the educational mainstream, in a handful of private schools and a few hundred public schools. Shouldn’t we be teaching these most essential skills for life to every child-now more than ever?
And if not now, when?

Considering the fact that during the last decades in society the perceived importance of soft skills has increased significantly, it is of high importance for everyone to acquire adequate skills beyond academic or technical knowledge. This is not particularly difficult. Once a shortcoming in a certain area of soft skills has been identified at oneself, there are numerous ways of rectifying such a deficiency. Educators have a special responsibility regarding soft skills, because during students’ school time they have major impact on the development of their students’ soft skills. Besides raising awareness regarding the importance of soft skills and encouraging students to improve their skills, lecturers should actively practice soft skills with their students. As a positive side effect the lessons will become more attractive, which in turn will increase the success rate of learners. Soft skills fulfill an important role in shaping an individual’s personality by complementing his/her hard skills. However, over emphasizing it to such an extent should not taint the importance of soft skills, that hard skills, i.e. expert knowledge in certain fields, are demoted to secondary importance.

Decorating Your Home for Romance

As Valentine’s Day approaches again this year, our hearts and minds turn to romance. The stores are filled with red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, Valentine’s Day balloons, and, of course, Valentine cards. Who doesn’t want to spend a romantic evening on Valentine’s Day? But why not let the romance last all year long? Here are some tips for creating a sanctuary in your home to which you can retreat at any time, feeling relaxed and in the mood for romance.

We’ll get to the bedroom, but first let’s take a look at the rest of your home. Harsh lighting isn’t attractive or relaxing. Install some dimmers so that you can dim the lights to create different moods. Make sure that your rooms aren’t lit solely by overhead lights. Add some soft lighting through the use of table lamps and wall sconces.

Keep some fresh flowers in your home. They’ll smell wonderful and add color and beauty. If fresh flowers aren’t possible all the time, supplement with some green plants and silk florals. Place them in your entry, your living room, dining room, and kitchen. Make sure that your home has a pleasant and welcoming scent. Use flowers, candles, potpourri, or essential oil warmers to add wonderful scents like vanilla, sandalwood, or citrus.

Now that your home is welcoming and comfortable, let’s concentrate on the master bedroom. This is your private sanctuary – the place you go to escape from the stresses of the outside world. Create the place you love coming home to – the place you’d rather be than anywhere else.

Your bedroom should have soft, beautiful lighting. Bedside lamps should have 3-way switches, allowing you to read in bed, but also to create a romantic mood. I have a salt lamp in my bedroom that creates a soft, warm glow while also releasing negative ions which are known to be relaxing and healthful. Candles also provide beautiful lighting. Everyone looks better in candlelight. Have candles on decorative plates on both nightstands, and on dressers or tables in other areas of your bedroom. Light them all when you want to create a lovely, soft glow. Choose a relaxing scent like lavender to melt your stresses away. If real candles make you nervous, there are some wonderful battery-operated candles that create a soft glow very close to real candlelight. Add a touch of an essential oil to create a relaxing scent. Place mirrors in such a way that they reflect the softened light. Mirrors also reflect life energy and are a great way to create a warm, inviting feeling in your room.

Your bed should be extremely restful and comfortable. Don’t skimp on your mattress. After all, you spend one-third of your life in bed. Your bed should have luxurious linens. I love down comforters and pillows. There’s nothing like the feel of down. For those who are allergic, there are now wonderful synthetic downs. But don’t overdo the pillows on the bed. Keep it simple and inviting.

In the bathroom, have some soft, plush towels, and maybe even his and hers robes. You’ll feel like you’re at a luxurious resort. Dim the lighting or add some candles around the tub.

Window treatments should be soft but functional. Have the ability to draw the draperies or close the shades to darken the room from street lights or harsh sunlight. Flowing fabrics on your windows create a soft, romantic feeling.

In keeping with a romantic feeling, if possible, hide the TV or remove it entirely from the bedroom. An attractive armoire can be closed when the TV is not in use. Keep a small music system in the bedroom, even if it’s just an iPod and some speakers. Playing some beautiful, romantic music will be very relaxing.

Colors are important to consider because they affect us physically and emotionally. For the bedroom choose soft, warm colors. Soft blues and aquas are especially soothing. Try to avoid harsh, bright colors or reds, which are more energizing than relaxing. To create an overall soft glow in your room be sure to paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. You’ll be amazed how relaxing it feels.

Last, but not least, remove work materials from your bedroom. If at all possible do not put a desk in your bedroom. Use an extra bedroom as an office or have a small work area in your kitchen or den. Bringing work into the bedroom will change the energy from relaxing to stressful. Try to leave the stresses of the day outside of your bedroom.

Try some of these tips and see how much better you’ll feel. You can create a private, romantic sanctuary in your own home. And for Valentine’s Day, add some champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Perfection!

Home Made Body Scrubs – An Inexpensive Way to a Glowing Skin

Home made body scrubs are excellent for removing dead cells. They provide fatty acids to dry and scaly skin, enhancing elasticity and softness. Home made scrubs are made of natural components which do not have side effects and are inexpensive. Scrubs have three most important components namely, essential oils, exfoliation and carrier oils.

The scrubs which are also called scratch scrubs offer you relief from the itching produced by skin that is dry and flaking. Homemade scrubs are very effective and its effects are soon visible.
Here, various recipes of homemade body scrubs are shared with the reader so that you can make them at home easily without spending too much money.

1. Body Scrub Recipe – A mixture of sea salt and olive oil is an effective body scrub you can easily make at home. Permit the mixture to penetrate deep into your skin, rub it well into your body and then wash it away.

2. Salt Scrub Recipe – Another magical homemade body scrub is the combination of 2 Cups avocado, 1 Cup apricot or oil extracted from peach kernel, 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract, 8 Cups Kosher salt, sesame oil or jojoba oil extracted from seeds which are not toasted and 1 Cup cocoa which is not sweetened or ¼ Cup coffee crystals which are freeze dried. Mix these ingredients well and blend with honey to make a smooth paste which you can easily apply on your body.

3. Brown sugar scrub – Another popular homemade scrub is the Brown sugar body scrub. It contains 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons aloe Vera gel, 1 teaspoon lemon juice which is squeezed fresh, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon almond oil. This mixture will be brown and smooth and will effectively remove dead cells.

4. Almond and Bran Scrub – Almond and Bran Scrub can be used on your body once a week to bring life and luster to your skin. Mix almonds and bran with a cup of hot green tea. Mix it well till it becomes smooth. When the mixture reaches body temperature pour tens drops of lavender oil to the mixture. Blend it well.

5. Sugar based body scrub – This scrub is made with fruits, sugar and honey to make your skin supple and smooth. Moreover, it soothes and rejuvenates your skin. Mashed fruit, a tablespoon sugar along with honey can be made to a paste to offer your skin the shine you desire.