How to prepare our children for the future.

As a mum to two young boys, I’m forever thinking about how I can best prepare them for a future that we can’t even yet imagine. The world of work is changing rapidly, and we know that the jobs our children will have or the roles that they will find themselves taking on in the future probably
haven’t even been invented yet. With the relentless pace of new innovation and technology developments, what has become really clear is that what will make our children successful in the future is not so much having strong academic skills, but having strong emotional intelligence skills.

What does ‘emotional intelligence’ mean?

It’s the ability to control and express your emotions, to build strong relationships with others, to show empathy, to be resilient when facing challenges and to adapt in new or uncertain situations. I recently heard the Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins, speak about his vision across the education landscape in New Zealand. He spoke at length about how he believed we could best prepare our children for the future. What did he think was going to the most important attribute for our young learners?


There is a strong shift towards more competency-based learning, which are all the ‘soft skills’ – often talked about simply as being the attitude that they bring to their life and learning.

So, for our children, what does the right attitude look like?

It looks like the ability to have friendships. It’s having the confidence to know that when things go wrong, they will be okay. It’s being able to work as a part of a team. It’s showing empathy for others and having compassion. It’s being adaptable and embracing change. It’s being self-aware and being able to manage feelings and emotions. It’s being a leader.

Just imagine if all of our children were supported to develop this kind of attitude. Is this not what we want, in its very essence, for all of our children? Not just as learners but as people?

How can we foster this kind of attitude?

Well, the answer is clear. Through secure attachment relationships from birth. Research shows that one on one relationships with key people during the early years of life wire up our brains. Over 70% of the brain is developed in the first three years of life – and we, as parents and educators, are the programmers. Children learn emotional intelligence and attitudinal skills through others. We model these skills in relationship with them. Research also shows that small groups are best for children when it comes to their social and emotional development. In small and intimate groups, they know that they have one key person to go to and that they will be comforted and supported when they need it. Nurturing and consistent relationships wire up the brain and the best place for this to happen in the early years of life is the home. If we want to best prepare our children for a future we can’t yet imagine, it starts with us…and them…in relationship


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