Everyday Essential Skills

Essential Skills are the skills that we use every day. These 9 skills are required for work, school, learning, and life. Essential skills provide us a strong foundation for learning all other skills and allow us to navigate our lives and daily routines.

From the minute our eyes open in the morning until the moment we slip off to sleep in the evening, we are using each of the 9 Essential Skills. In fact, a lot of the time we are not even aware that we are using these skills, as they are such a strong part of our everyday routine.

It is important for us to be able to take the time to identify when, where, and how we are using these skills in our daily routines. Once we begin to explore our use of Essential Skills, we can support our children in using these skills in a very thoughtful and intentional way. By supporting the development of Essential Skills in our children, we are helping them build a strong foundation for all other types of learning, growth, and development.

WHAT ARE THE 9 ESSENTIAL SKILLS

Reading

  • Reading different types of materials such as letters, books, manuals, instructions, street signs, reports, agendas, emails, recipes, etc.
  • Includes both print and non-print media

Writing

  • Doing tasks such as writing a grocery list, signing your name, filling in a form
  • Includes both paper and non-paper based writing such as writing a note to your child’s teacher or writing an email to your employer
  • Includes all forms of early writing in children such as scribbling

Oral Communication

  • The use of speech to give and exchange thoughts and information
  • Includes storytelling, singing, and rhyming

Working with Others

  • The ability to work and interact with others to accomplish a task
  • Recognizing the importance of team work
  • Setting reasonable expectations and problem solving

Numeracy

  • The ability to work with and use numbers, and the ability to perform calculating and estimating tasks
  • Handling money, budgeting, measuring, sorting, patterning, etc

Document Use

  • The ability to use words, numbers, symbols, and other visual displays to make meaning of things
  • Using and being able to read charts, schedules, graphs, report cards, drawings, signs, and labels

Thinking Skills

  • Being able to solve problems, make decisions, find and evaluate information, plan, and organize
  • Often used in combination with many other essential skills

Continuous Learning

  • Participating in the ongoing process of learning new skills and knowledge
  • Trying out a new hobby or trying out a new recipe
  • People can develop new skills at any time and at any age

Digital Technology

  • The ability to use computers or computerized equipment, different kinds of computer applications, and the internet
  • Being able to use a variety of computerized platforms to search for information
  • Participating in social media

As parents we are incredibly busy. We work hard to balance our jobs, children, household responsibilities, social interests, school, and community, etc. There simply is not time for us to add anything else to our daily lives.

However, supporting Essential Skill awareness and development in our children is almost effortless. Since we use these skills each and every day, we can easily identify naturally occurring moments within our routine where we can support and enhance this learning.

Let’s take a look at a few events from a typical day for a family, and I will show you just how easy it can be to include meaningful Essential Skills development into your daily routine.

Now that we are able to identify the 9 Essential Skills, have an understanding of their importance and where we use them daily, we can be more intentional in how we apply them in our daily lives at home, school, work, and in our community.

To make these moments meaningful learning opportunities for our children we can:

  • Make a game of identifying when, where, and how we use these skills every day, i.e.: “Eye Spy” an Essential Skill!
  • Talk about the skills while you are using them, and discuss how you are using them.
  • Ask your children open ended questions to support them in exploring their unique use of these skills.
  • Discuss how each skill helps to get things done. Could tasks be completed another way using other Essential Skills?
  • Explore how the learning from one skill can transfer to another, and how certain tasks require multiple Essential Skills.
  • Talk to children about the different Essential Skills you may use in a variety of careers. What do they want to be when they grow up? What skills will they need to use daily?
  • Engage your children in the development of their routine and one for the whole family.
  • Model healthy and fun attitudes and behaviours when using these skills in your life.

For more information on Essential Skills or Literacy Links Workshops available in your community, contact the Centre for Family Literacy: email info@famlit.ca or phone 780-421-7323.

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