What are foundational skills?
Just like a house cannot be built without a solid foundation, a child cannot thrive without certain skills that make up the building blocks for a life of learning. These skills are called foundational skills, and consist of numeracy, literacy, and transferable skills, among others.
Why are foundational skills important?
Without foundational skills, children find it difficult to acquire knowledge and experience. Not just that, children who lack the foundational skills find it difficult to think critically and solve problems creatively.
Given the dire need to concentrate on foundational skills, it is surprising that in many developing countries, these skills are often ignored while designing curriculum for children. In fact, a recent study by the World Bank found that during the pre-pandemic period, 53% of children lived below the learning poverty curve, meaning they were unable to read age-appropriate text by the age of 10. That number is feared to have increased during the pandemic because of high dropout rates and loss of school days.
Experts suggest in order to ensure quality school education for all children, the focus should be on basic foundation skills. One way to make children master foundational skills is by integrating them within their playtime. Educational toys are a great way to learn foundational skills through engaging, meaningful play.
What are the 7 foundational skills?
There are many foundational skills. Of them, the seven most important skills are as follows:
Fine Motor Skills: These skills are those that involve the involvement of the small muscles of the body, such as wrists and hands. Children rely on these skills to do everyday work at school and at home. Here are some real-life examples of using fine motor skills:
- Holding a pencil or a pen
- Drawing pictures and writing neatly
- Using a keyboard or a tablet or a smartphone
- Using scissors, rulers and other tools
Memory Retention: This refers to the ability of storing information for a long period of time. This only happens when a piece of information has been processed and encoded in the brain. Memory retention among children is crucial for memorizing multiplication tables, periodic tables, algebra and chemistry formulas. Some of the common reasons for poor memory retention skills include:
- Emotional issues
- Side-effects of medication
- Conditions like ADHD
Reasoning Skills: These skills refer to the ability to analyze, evaluate and synthesize complex information. However, these skills include a wider subset of skills including abstract thinking, creative thinking, information-processing and problem-solving. All in all, reasoning skills consist of:
- Metacognitive skills
- Inductive reasoning skills
- Creativity skills
- Decision-making skills
- Conceptual thinking skills
Language & Communication: These skills are needed to communicate ideas and emotions effectively. Language skills involve:
Gross Motor Skills: These are skills that involve the movement of big muscles, also called the core-stabilizing muscles. Children heavily rely on these skills to perform everyday tasks, including:
- Sitting upright
Socio-Emotional Skills: These are core skills that children require to connect with others, build meaningful relationships and feel empathy. Some common instances of socio-emotional skills include:
- Recognizing if someone is sad
- Being able to empathize with others
- Take ethical decisions
- Expressing oneself
Critical Reasoning Ability: This involves the ability to obtain, interpret and use knowledge, data, and facts. Children use this ability to solve simple and complex problems that involve the use of any one or more than one of the following methods:
How foundational skills are used?
Foundational skills are the key to success. They are required to make children proficient in reading, writing, counting, reasoning and problem-solving. Experts suggest that children need universal, early, conceptual, and procedural knowledge of foundational skills. These principles can be understood in the following ways:
- Universal: Foundational skills must be inculcated in every child, irrespective of age, gender and/or social background.
- Early: Children need to start learning foundational skills early, because those who fail rarely catch up.
- Conceptual: Foundational skills must be conceptual in nature. Children must be able to understand concepts and then apply them to real-life situations.
- Procedural: In addition to mastering the concepts, children need practice and fluency in procedures. They must learn how to solve problems in a step-by-step fashion and apply skills practically.
How can Smartivity toys help in building foundational skills?
Toys are an excellent way to master foundational skills in a fun and engaging way. The focus on foundational skills has been an important part of Smartivity’s Little Sparks range.
Little Sparks is a special range of DIY toys and activity kits that are dedicated to building foundational skills among children aged 3 to 6 years. This age group typically includes preschoolers and early school-going children. As per experts, this is a crucial age bracket, in which the mind and the body undergo several changes. These include:
- Development of gross motor skills, such as running, jumping, cycling, skipping etc.
- Drawing shapes, such as circles, squares, etc.
- Using scissors and cutting a straight line.
- Putting on clothes properly
- Managing to eat with knife, fork and spoon
- Learning basics of grammar
- Using pronouns, three-word sentences, singular and plural nouns
Smartivity’s Little Sparks range is especially designed keeping in mind the growing needs of young children. The range consists of exciting DIY activity kits like Ocean Explorer, Try Tower and Transports on the Go.
Transports On The Go: A Fun Way To Develop 7 Foundational Skills
Smartivity’s latest offering is Transports on the Go: 7-in-1 Activity Kit - an essential activity kit that helps children learn all about airplanes, cars, ships, etc. Combining a range of activities and gameplays, this kit helps children develop their basic foundational skills. The activities included in the box are:
- Plane Launcher: Helps children build a plane to develop fine motor skills.
- Sky Craft: Develop memory retention by recognizing different kinds of aircraft and how high they fly.
- Move the Boat: Improve reasoning ability through a fun science experiment.
- Find Billy the Cat: A language exercise to help children master spatial prepositions.
- Steering Wheel: Develop gross motor skills by pretending to be a driver and imitating driving movement.
- Help on the Wheels: An exciting board game where children not only learn various emergency vehicles but also improve their emotional intelligence.
- Interactive Play Book: A one-of-a-kind book that helps children develop critical thinking.
There’s no doubt that throughout the world, there is a renewed focus on foundational skills. From numeracy skills to language skills, from critical reasoning to motor skills, schools across the world are putting a great emphasis on incorporating these skills into the daily curriculum.
Smartivity’s toys and kits incorporate these skills in a fun and engaging way through its Little Sparks range. Explore our kits to kickstart your child’s STEAM journey today!