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Emotional Intelligence and Soft Skills
As homeschoolers, we all understand the importance of not just teaching the core subjects of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, and PE, but also Art, Music, Theater, Sewing, Cooking, Engineering, Programming, and more. We make concerted efforts to make sure that our children get a well-rounded education, but I feel that, amidst all the other great things, many of us forget to focus on EQ, promoting emotional intelligence and mental health.
I often wonder if everyone understands the importance of emotional intelligence and what some call the “soft skills” like good communication and conflict resolution in relationships, leadership skills, teamwork, networking, and so forth. I see a lot of that not going too well for many kids, in traditional as well as alternative education settings.
If one googles what ‘soft skills’ people need, a ton of articles come up such as this one from Monster.com, the big online recruiting agency, listing skills that people need in today’s business world. I would argue they have always been needed and sorely lacking at times, but, finally, businesses are actually saying out loud what skills they’re looking for that no degree will give you. All of these require high EQ.
According to the Dictionary of Psychology from Oxford University, “Emotional intelligence (EI), also known as Emotional quotient (EQ) and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EIQ), is the capability of individuals to recognize their own emotions and those of others, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s).”
One of my favorite Ted Talk videos is this one on Hackschooling. Logan explains how he told someone once that he wanted to be happy when he grew up and they didn’t think it was a good answer to the question of what he wanted to be when he grew up, but that it is actually really important. As homeschoolers we care a ton about our children being happy, but I think sometimes all the wonderful classes and activities they can be part of, is still lacking in helping them attain true happiness. We schedule the kids for multiple exciting activities and classes that they are interested in and always want to make sure they are having fun, but do we really check on their emotional health in all areas? Sometimes parents even need help with that, because we did not grow up in an era where it was encouraged or even discussed. I know I’ve had a long journey of studying this topic and continue to do so.
I feel that EQ is at least as important as IQ if we want to talk about numbers and that emotional and mental health is at least as important as academic subjects, if not more. I think that classes such as Communication and Conflict Resolution, Teen Leadership Skills, TED Talks discussions, or Psychology are crucial to helping our children really extend themselves beyond their own world and meet their world with empathy and the tools to connect with others in meaningful ways to advance whatever field of study they engage in. I absolutely love this Ted Talk on Listening which demonstrates just some of the types of skills that are discussed in these types of classes. There are a ton of other wonderful Ted Talks on communication, conflict resolution, and other related topics to explore.
I’m so excited that Learn Beyond The Book offers an array of EQ classes, including classes covering the topics I mentioned above. We also have some teen and tween support groups as well as a support group for parents. We plan to just keep expanding this very important list of classes, because we truly believe that learning the skills taught in these classes are essential to life and happiness and we hope that parents will join us in making it a priority.