Child Development

6 Skills Every 21st Century Child Should Master

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We live in a pivotal age of innovation, advancement and technology. Skills deemed as crucial in the past are now often categorised as obsolete. The 21st century child has to be equipped with a host of novel (or previously underrated) skill sets to thrive in the future! Many of these skills cannot be ‘taught‘, but need to be nurtured over time.

Don’t worry, however: it’s not as daunting as it sounds! We list six important skills every 21st century child should master, along with easy ways that families can cultivate these skills at home.

1. Critical Thinking 

Source: Novakid’s Instagram page

In an era of constant information overload, our children will need the tools to discern this information wisely and form sound judgements through critical evaluation. Work on fostering your child’s critical thinking skills now to help them develop as better problem-solvers and decision-makers for the future. 

Action Points:

  • Focus on the Hows and Whys: Understanding the ‘why’ behind things teaches our children not to take things at face value. Follow up the thought process with “How do you know?”, so children learn to gather evidence to solidify any ideas they have formed. Prompt them to think about how perspectives can vary and should be respected, and also encourage them to think of potential solutions should any issues arise.
  • Encourage Questioning: For those with younger kids, it can certainly be exhausting, being questioned 24/7 by a walking encyclopaedia! But try and be as patient as you can. Remember: curiosity is a key hallmark of critical thinkers!
  • Reduce ‘Spoon Feeding’: We know it can often be hard to resist the temptation of playing superhero to our precious kids! But instead of immediately jumping in with the answers, allow your children room to reflect and arrive at their own conclusions or solutions to a problem. 

2. Communication

Source: Nadia Johari’s Instagram page

Our little ones need to foster effective communication skills to build social relationships in this big, big world! In today’s increasingly globalised climate, it is essential that our kids master a strong command of English as a key global language from an early age.

Joining an immersive programme, such as Novakid’s online classes for kids aged 4 to 12 years old, enables children to learn English as a native language and develop an early foundation in literacy. Based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), these individual 25 minute classes help to spark a love of the language through the programme’s exciting virtual classroom and engaging native speakers as teachers. Novakid’s programmes use personalised learning experiences for your child, catering to the changing needs of young students at any stage of their learning, so that they can develop their English at their best pace.

Try adopting these simple literacy activities at home as well, for an all-rounded approach!

Action Points:

  • Play Games: Include literacy games during family board game nights. Enjoy some bonding time while developing word recognition, spelling patterns and letter sound knowledge!
  • Encourage Role Playing:  Encourage children to role play and experiment with different roles. Provide themed prop boxes with just a few materials and let your kids’ imagination take the lead!
  • Talk, Talk, Talk: Try these conversation prompts to get the ball rolling. Children often need more time to process questions too, so give them the space they need to respond.

3. Creativity

Source: Unsplash

Every invention we are thankful for today was once the product of someone’s imagination and creativity. Successful modern economies and societies are often helmed by creative individuals. On a personal front, creativity also improves one’s intellectual capabilities, mental abilities, and social skills.

Try having broad discussions with your children and creatively explore topics of interest. Not sure where to begin? Have the experts in the field support you, with Novakid’s intensive speaking programmes that help to foster creativity, as well as increase your kids’ fluency and their confidence in the English language. Their Time2Talk and Virtual Explorer courses will get these future orators ready to engage in exciting discussions about the arts, music, humanities, modern and ancient worlds, and the environment, to name a few!

Here are even more ways you can encourage creativity in your kids:

Action Points:

  • Provide Open-Ended Toys:  Invest in long-term and classic open-ended toys, such as Legos, plain wooden blocks and magnetic tiles. These tools offer endless opportunities for imagination to take root, and for problem-solving skills to be honed. 
  • Tune in to the Arts: Provide an art-rich environment, and be spontaneous with music and acting to provide creative inspiration. Have younger kids improvise with songs about anything- their favourite snack, the pet hamster, granny’s glasses! Time to also replace some of those step-by-step craft kits with process-focused art experiences!
  • Ask “What if?”:  It’s as easy as simply dropping this question in conversations throughout the day. Asking ‘what if?’ promotes “possibility thinking”, which helps kids explore creative possibilities. 

4. Digital Citizenship

Source: Lea Azleeya’s Instagram page

Ah, the Internet! With modern technology being here to stay, it is crucial that our kids develop key digital skills to effectively communicate with others, all over the world. Besides learning how to navigate the digital world, they need to be armed with knowledge of online safety, cybersecurity and digital health and responsibility.

Action Points:

  • Use Blended Learning: Don’t put a stop to all those online classes just yet! Blended learning can provide a structured, supervised and more accessible way of fostering digital citizenship. We are, after all, all-too familiar with the advantages of online classes – ranging from the lack of that mad morning rush, to students being able to engage with the material at their own pace. Online classes, such as those offered by Novakid, allow for more flexible scheduling – a definite plus for families who are always on the go!
  • Remember Digital Etiquette: It’s easy for children to feel more emotionally removed with virtual interactions. Teach them to think carefully before sharing anything online. Have them consider the question “Would you say this to/about the person if the person were standing next to you?”
  • Access Online Resources: Utilise technology as a tool for teaching this core skill. Check out these award-winning (and free!) lesson plans on digital citizenship by Common Sense Media to expand the conversation further at home.

5. Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Source: TeachHUB

The ever-important set of skills needed to ensure our kids thrive in a healthy way. We are all aware of the correlation between mental health and happiness. The ability to manage emotions and build positive relationships  is pivotal towards leading to success across all aspects of life, both now and in the future.

Action Points:

  • Start a Gratitude Journal: Go beyond saying a customary “thank you” to fostering a deep sense of gratitude (regardless of circumstances) in your child. Not only will keeping a journal help to hone that grateful spirit, but it will also improve literacy and provide an avenue for the expression of feelings.
  • Practice Throughout the Day: Play SEL games that can easily fit into your daily routine. These simple ideas are perfect  – and lots of fun! 
  • Nurture Self Esteem: There are many strategies for fostering self confidence, including providing responsibilities, giving balanced feedback, and allowing for age-appropriate choices to be made. 

6. Body Awareness

Source: Unsplash

Body awareness involves spatial awareness, motor skills and overall physical activity and well-being – increasingly important factors in the 21st century kid, due to the challenges caused by technology, urbanization, and lifestyle changes

Another oft-overlooked (but crucial) aspect of body awareness involves an understanding of the concepts of consent and body boundaries. We empower our children with this knowledge to protect them against harm, and to educate them that they have rights and deserve to be treated with respect. 

Action Points:

  • Physical Play: There are many playful ways to develop motor skills and awareness for younger kids. Try a simple game of Simon Says,  create a fun obstacle path, or foster a love for the outdoors through example.
  • Normalise (Consent) Habits: Never force your kid to kiss or hug someone if they are not comfortable doing so (they could offer polite alternatives that they are comfortable with instead) . Teach your children that they are the bosses of their own bodies, and that each of us have boundaries that should be respected. Consent is a habit that needs to be practiced. Normalise this as a part of their everyday lives from young, so it will carry on through as they get older. 


Here’s to all our 21st century kids, #makchicmumtribe. The future looks bright indeed!

This is a sponsored post by Novakid.

Looking for a convenient, yet effective, way to equip your child with the 6 skills for the 21st century? Novakid’s English curriculum has been specifically created by field experts for remote learning, resulting in quality, immersive and individualised lessons suited for children aged 4 to 12 years old that guarantees productive fun for the kids to enjoy. 
Novakid is currently having promotional rate of RM99 for the first 4 classes. Register on their website here.

Elaine is a mummy of two who moved from the financial world to become an early childhood educator. She loves travelling, books and her cup of tea to unwind after a long day of diapers, school runs and pretend play.