Soft Skills. Growth Mindset. Employability Skills. There are several different names for them, but regardless of what they are called, these skills are frequently associated with success: success in the classroom; success in the workplace; success in life. As practitioners, these are the skills that we want students, adult learners, caregivers, and even colleagues to develop. To support educators and employers alike, the U.S. Department of Education compiled the Employability Skills Framework to identify qualities and skills that are considered essential. The framework includes skills related to critical thinking, information use, communication, resource management, and interpersonal relationships. It’s important to note that while the chosen term is employability skills, these skills are wide-ranging in their application and transferable to many situations beyond employment. They are skills that are critical in modern life. If we want to prepare our students, adult participants, and clients for the modern world, we need to cultivate these essential skills. Whether we work with preschoolers, school-age students, adult learners, or parents, these abilities will benefit our students. Here are a few ideas and strategies for developing skills from the Employability Skills Framework in classrooms and programs: Employability skill: Thinks creatively. Adapts and shows flexibility. Give children and parents opportunities to participate in open-ended activities. In Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®, give families a variety of science tools and materials and let them come up with their own experiment. Maker activities are also a great way to foster these skills. Encourage students to use materials in different ways to promote flexibility. Foster creative thinking by providing opportunities rather than providing activities. Employability skill: Plans and organizes. Rather than always having practitioners plan Parent Time and PACT Time, allow participants to take turns at planning and organizing sessions with support. Older students and adults can identify topics of interest to them, find related videos to share, or even arrange for speakers. Our classrooms and programs provide natural opportunities for developing skills related to planning and organizing. Employability skill: Takes initiative. Solves problems. Family Service Learning provides an opportunity for older children, parents, and other adult caregivers to identify issues in their communities and to take action toward solving them. Our natural inclination as facilitators is to provide guidance and make suggestions, but if our goal is for participants to take initiative, then we might have to “sit on our hands” while we allow children and parents to find their way in their service learning projects. Employability skill: Communicates verbally. Give students plenty of opportunities for purposeful, structured talk. Learners of all ages should have chances to listen and then respond with a partner or a larger group. Talk helps us to make meaning and to remember information. It is both a method for learning and a desired outcome. Learners must have chances to hone their verbal communication skills. These employability skills are critical beyond the workplace. An adult needs to plan a menu before going to the grocery. A parent needs to take initiative when enrolling their child at school. A patient needs to communicate verbally with their doctor. These skills lead to success in life. Think about ways that you promote employability skills in your classroom or program. Share a successful strategy in the comments below. Help other practitioners to think about how to seamlessly incorporate key employability skills that lead to success in the workplace and beyond.
Toyota Family Learning Program
Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $35 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.
Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities
Dollar General Literacy Foundation
The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.
The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.
Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website
PNC Grow Up Great
PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.
PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.
NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.PNC Grow Up Great
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.Visit the Foundation website
Better World Books
Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.
Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.Better World Books
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.Foundation Website
NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.
The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University