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Help children understand the boundaries of healthy research activities

Olga Andreevna Panchenko - UN project author, president of KiwamiR&DGrop, author of the project "Integrative approach to SoftSkills universal skills development", participant of the 2016 UN grant competition USA, made a presentation "SoftSkills development in children in practical activities. Trends and Methods" at the presentation platform №3 "SoftSkills (universal skills) as a basis for successful activities of preschool children" held on the basis of the Municipal Educational Institution "Success Constructor".

As part of the conference, Olga answered questions specifically for and

Corr.: The session you spoke at was called "SoftSkills as a basis for successful activities for pre-school children". What are SoftSkills?

OP: Soft Skills is an established international academic term, which is why I use it in my work. In Russian, the closest correspondence to the term is morale or social skills, but neither the first nor the second term reflects the breadth of the term SoftSkills.

We could say that SoftSkills are a set of attributes and qualities that allow an individual to achieve an optimum of adaptive properties to achieve effective interaction with the external environment. Where by effective interaction I mean interaction that allows one to improve the quality of life while increasing life expectancy.

Corr.: Quite a complicated definition. And in practice, what skill development in pre-school children should be given special attention?

OP: There is a belief among young parents that children have "built-in" skills that are triggered at the right moment. However, as early as the mid-nineteenth century, Soviet neurophysiologists discovered that almost all skills need to be learned intentionally, except those directly involved in the child's life support process (breathing, blinking, swallowing and so on).

For example, there is research in neurophysiology proving that if a child is not put on his feet before a certain age, he will never learn to walk upright. The same applies to speech. In other words, it is not just the development of certain qualities and skills that is important, but also the moment when these skills begin to develop. Safe behaviour is also a skill. Animals literally start training their young in camouflage and hunting techniques from birth.

In my opinion, the most important skill for babies is self-preservation. After all, even the simplest and most basic skills have to be developed. I know this very well as an instructor in the Japanese martial art of aikido. The simplest is to throw your arms out in front of you when an obstacle (a post, a fence, a slide, a chair, another baby, etc.) comes in your way to protect your head, neck and stomach. You need to teach your child how to determine the distance to an object, how to avoid an obstacle or avoid it completely and much, much more.

Curiosity often leads children to dangerous experiments and help them understand the limits of healthy exploration activities.

Corr: What has changed in the development of self-preservation skills in recent years?

OP: Adults try to isolate children completely from potential risks and threats. And when, sooner or later, a critical situation arises, children find themselves completely helpless. Complete disregard for danger, the laws of nature, and a blind faith in the triumph of technology and their own invulnerability lead to tragedy. Almost everyone will probably know someone who has lost a child as a result of risky driving in a car given as a present from parents, or the latest trend - because of a desire for more "likes" on Instagram.

Corr: How is the development of self-preservation in children affected by draconian measures imposed on educators because of the severity to pupils?

OP: Each situation has to be dealt with separately. In my opinion, it's totally unacceptable when because of one bully the whole group is transferred to another kindergarten or transferred to home schooling. If you deprive a kindergarten teacher of the legal tools to influence a violator of discipline and rules of conduct, expect trouble.

Corr.: How can self-preservation and safe behaviour be fostered in today's environment?

OP: When we talk about teaching safe behaviour skills, we have to find an optimal balance between the effectiveness (speed) of learning and the degree of risk in teaching. Both children and adults learn an understanding of danger and the proportion of risk in practical activities. Therefore, some skills can be developed in everyday life and some only in a specially simulated situation. For example, you can learn how to grow flowers in a real-life situation, but you can learn how to fly an aeroplane in a simulator. Training "in the field" requires some additional knowledge and skills from parents, as well as the right technology for the child's development.

Corr: Do you have the technology?

OP: Yes. I developed such a technology first for myself and then adapted it for different age groups. I chose aikido as the basic practical system for developing self-discipline, organised thinking, risk assessment and other SoftSkills.

Aikido is a modern system of practical techniques for neutralizing aggression, based on traditional Japanese martial arts. Aikido is convenient because it allows you to create a controlled conflict, to understand in practice the most effective ways of neutralizing aggression, and to experiment safely with unsuitable means. And perhaps another important advantage of aikido is that the techniques used for neutralization can be described by mathematical methods. In other words, they have the property of universality.

I have developed a comprehensive programme for young children called "Safe Behaviour and Self-Organisation". I have been working with this programme for many years and have had good results. After only a month parents and grandparents notice positive changes in the behaviour of their little ones, as well as being able to talk about the necessary safety precautions while analysing the lessons.

I have been working on this programme for many years now.

Corr: Can safe behaviour skills only be developed through aikido?

OP: Aikido is a long-standing love of mine, so I may be biased. But, with the right approach, you can develop a system for developing universal skills based on any vocational activity. It can be music, or drawing, or mathematics, or programming. There is a small condition: this activity has to be income-generating or, in other words, be in a competitive environment.

It can be said that for a child's balanced development, practical activities that benefit others are very important. If there are people willing to pay for your skills, no matter how: with money, time, attention or otherwise, then your skills are useful and worth developing.

Development of universal skills on the basis of professional skills makes it possible to diagnose and identify problems that hamper effective performance in practice and then find the best way to eliminate them. But, be that as it may, the paramount tasks of education are to have a balanced system of rights and responsibilities of educators and pupils and to abide by it rigorously.

Corr: Still, which is the most important universal skill?

OP: In my opinion - organisation, the ability to control one's actions and to give an account of one's real actions.

11 November 2019, Perm