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.

Scrapbooking Your Way to Essential Skills

What was the last thing you read? Maybe it was a road sign to find your way, or the label on a prescription bottle. When did you last use a computer and why? Was it to update your FaceBook status or to fill out an online insurance claim? What could you learn that would make your life easier, or more interesting? Maybe it’s another language, social media, or how to drive.

Reading, computer use, and continuous learning are just a few of the basic skills needed in our daily lives and we don’t often think about them. They’re called the 9 Essential Skills and they include:

  1. Reading
  2. Document use
  3. Writing
  4. Numeracy
  5. Oral Communication
  6. Thinking Skills
  7. Working with Others
  8. Digital Technology
  9. Continuous Learning

These skills are seen as “building blocks” because they are the starting point for all future learning. These “starter skills” are needed whether we are baking a cake at home or balancing a budget at work, so it’s easy to see how important it is to develop them in our children, and for adults to keep them fresh. One way adults can do this is by incorporating family literacy activities into the daily lives of their families.

Making a scrapbook is a great way for the whole family to target those essential skills. On the Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus, we have a very simple example of a scrapbook. There are many different types, and they can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. This activity potentially uses all 9 essential skills, so periodically take time to review your creation and talk about what you have learned.

A scrapbook is fun for kids to work on. They love to see themselves in pictures and hear their own stories. The finished product is a great learning tool for the kids, and what you put in the scrapbook can be a record of your other family literacy activities.

Materials Needed:

  • Small photo album
  • Family photos
  • Flash cards
  • Pens
  • Stickers for decoration

Directions:

Choose photos (eg. family vacation). Insert into a sleeve.

ScrapbookOn a flashcard, write a simple sentence that corresponds with the photo. Insert it into the opposing sleeve.

Create a book cover using another flashcard. Insert into front sleeve.

Try letting them narrate their own story while you act as the scribe. If you make new books each week, month or year, you will see how their skills progress over time.

Scrapbook2Why not share a learning activity with your family today? Don’t forget to snap some photos, or keep souvenirs, for your scrapbook!

Learn more about Essential Skills here

Alberta Prairie C.O.W. Bus information and schedule

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