Confidence, Creativity, Grit & Resilience have been found to be closely linked to lifelong success.  Also known as 21st Century competencies, children don’t just pick these skills up – they need to be fostered through meaningful real-life experiences, in the early years.  As parents, we want to prepare our children as best as we can for their future.

What does SUCCESS mean to you?

Success is a big word indeed! How would you, as an adult, define success for yourself? Would you be thinking of.. Wealth and health? Financial freedom and Career progression? Or perhaps achieving all your goals and dreams? Having a loving family? Finding your passion and making a difference?

Chances are, some of these might hit the spot for you… and there can be many other indicators as well. Everyone will have some similar indicators in mind, and yet some very different ones too. But whichever of these you think of, recent research identifies some key “pre-cursors” of success.

What is SUCCESS for our children? 


Now, how would you define success for your child? Perhaps you might think of some of these qualities:

… and more. At Shaws Preschool, these are exactly the kind of things we work towards, for all our children.

But going even further, in our eyes, successful children are those who enjoy learning new things and being with those they love. They have good character, morals, and values. They are happy. They are confident.

Successful children become successful adults, who have high levels of self-esteem and self-worth.

Our world is changing rapidly

Bearing in mind that we live in the information age and in an ever-changing world – I mean just look at 2020 alone! We’ve been hit by such a big impactful change that none of us saw coming and we never know what’s going to happen in the future so it’s important that we equip ourselves, and even more so our children, with a specific set of skills that not only will carry them through school but also through the rest of their lives. To be ready for the future, to be ready for our changing world – not only to survive it, but to thrive, to perform and to excel.

Up till the early part of this century, there was a lot of focus on learning facts, memorising facts and recalling facts. The person who could memorize the most seemed the smartest. But in this most current day and age, just having the answer doesn’t get you that far, because anyone with a smart phone can get the same answer. You have to know how to filter through the information. This is where skills like Creativity, Critical-Thinking, Curiosity, Initiative, Entrepreneurship, Organisation, Analytical Skills come in.

We have to realize that the world has shifted, and this shift is now becoming more apparent in higher education. What is now of bigger value is the ability to ask good questions, instead of having the right answer. We must be able to fail, then adapt, and then accomplish something. The question is, how do we help our children develop those abilities, so that they can face whatever comes.

So in comes the list of 21st century skills!

What are 21st Century Skills?

This refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed— by educators, college professors, employers, and others—to be critically important to success in today’s world.

Learning skills – Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication

Literacy skills – Information, Media, Technology

Life skills – Flexibility, Leadership, Initiative, Productivity, Social Skills

Is Preschool the RIGHT time? 

Some might ask, is it too early to worry about these things? Is it too early to “burden” our children with learning these skills for the future?

It’s important to bear in mind that there has been so much extensive research on how the brain is wired and how children learn from even before birth and what has been consistent in all of these research findings is that the brain is best wired to learn these skills before the children even turn 5!

Therefore we feel that it’s so crucial that we take notice of these life skills and make best use of the precious preschool years to nurture these skills in our children. We believe that preschool is the time – Preschool is where the building blocks for their whole education, their whole development is laid down. So what we’re trying to do is to set them up for success in life.

The fact is, these are all skills. Skills can be learnt, can be nurtured, can be honed. So the more time and experience you have with it, the better you get!

Current Research on Life Skills for Success

Let’s take a quick look at 3 of the more current research on life skills for success:

First is Dr Laura Jana’s Qi Skills. In her work, Dr Jana talks about 7 groups of skills she calls “Qi” skills:

  • “Me” skills
  • “We” skills
  • “Why” skills
  • “Will” skills
  • “Wiggle” skills
  • “Wobble” skills
  • “What if” skills


Dr Jana believes that these are the skills that every child needs in order to succeed.

Second, we have Angela Duckworth who has found that grit (which she defines as passion and perseverance for long-term goals) is the single common factor in the thousands of high-achievers she has studied, in her years of work. She further suggests that grit trumps talent and IQ, in predicting success.

We also have “Mind In the Making”, a framework of 7 Essential Life Skills that are researched and documented by Ellen Galinsky. Galinksy believes that these are the skills that children need most, to prepare them for the pressures of modern life, skills that they will draw on now and for years to come.

So, what did we do?

We took a closer look at all of these studies, and massaged the information a little bit, and came up with our own group of “Essential Life Skills of a Shaws Learner” which we feel are most relevant and developmentally-appropriate for our bunch of preschoolers.

Building Foundations

What we’re doing is really, laying the bricks. Laying the foundation in the children, that all of their life experience will build upon. We start from the beginning, and slowly pave the way for the children to develop these skills, by giving them lots of experiences, lots of practice & lots of guidance and support along the way.

How do we build these skills in our children?

Remember, skills can be learnt, developed and honed…… therefore…

We must facilitate the enhancement of these skills through INTENTIONAL practice.

And we do it the best way we know – THROUGH PLAY!

We have:

  • Confidence
  • Creativity, Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving
  • Curiosity & Imagination
  • Initiative & Entrepreneurship
  • Grit & Resilience
  • Collaboration
  • Earth Hero
  • Effective Oral & Written Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Empathy
  • Self-Regulation
  • Ready for a World With Technology

Throughout their 5 years with us in Shaws, we plan activities and play opportunities for the children to progressively build up these 12 essential life skills, because it doesn’t happen by chance…  in addition to knowledge in proficiencies in the 6 learning areas.

Look out for the next upcoming blog entries, where we will share with you each of these Essential Life Skills, why they’re so important for our children, and how do we nurture them in Shaws.


by Imeelia Ismail-Tan, Director of Curriculum