“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” - John Lennon
We all want our children to be happy, but what can we do about it?
According to the American psychologist, Maslow in his “Theory of Motivation”, higher levels of happiness come from meet higher level needs of esteem and self actualisation. In short, having the tools to be able to achieve one’s full potential. Debate has continued over the years as to whether in reality it is a pyramid or a circle with “collaboration” in the centre. Nevertheless, assuming we are fortunate enough as parents to be able to meet the basic and physiological needs, how do we aid self actualisation - potential?
In two words, Life Skills. According to the WHO, Life skills are “abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable humans to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life”. In their 1999 paper, Partners in life skills education, The WHO identified 5 basic areas of life skills relevant across all cultures:
Decision making & Problem Solving
Creative and Critical Thinking
Communication & Interpersonal Skills
Self Awareness and Empathy
Coping with emotions and Coping with Stress
Interestingly, although many schools now talk about creating students who are creative thinkers, problem solvers who can communicate with empathy, the bulk of learning resources and the focus of results is still very much on traditional subjects.
In our future, uncertain and competitive world, for our children to succeed and be happy, they will need to be strong in these skills. With the developing world being able to compete with many professions on cost, and technology & artificial intelligence being able to compete with many professions on efficiency, it will be those who can communicate, be aware, lead through creative ways of thinking and problem solving who will thrive.
At Simply Theatre, we believe Performing Arts courses are the best and most fun way to develop these key life skills for children. To find out how and why this is so, sign up for our ebook - Happiness, Life Skills & the Performing Arts. You can also download an example of Simply Theatre's “Learning Outcomes” to understand how life skills are incorporated into our performing arts classes.