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9 Skills That Every Kid Should Learn

9 Skills That Every Kid Should Learn

For the full original unedited article visit Leo Babauta’s blog, Zen Habits

Kids in today’s school system are not being prepared well for tomorrow’s world.

As someone who went from the corporate world and then the government world to the ever-changing online world, I know how the world of yesterday is rapidly becoming irrelevant. I was trained in the newspaper industry, where we all believed we would be relevant forever — and I now believe will go the way of the horse and buggy.

Unfortunately, I was educated in a school system that believed the world in which it existed would remain essentially the same, with minor changes in fashion. We were trained with a skill set that was based on what jobs were most in demand in the 1980s, not what might happen in the 2000s.

And that kinda makes sense, given that no one could really know what life would be like 20 years from now. Imagine the 1980s, when personal computers were still fairly young, when faxes were the cutting-edge communication technology, when the Internet as we now know it was only the dream of sci-fi writers like William Gibson.

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We had no idea what the world had in store for us.

And here’s the thing: we still don’t. We never do. We have never been good at predicting the future, and so raising and educating our kids as if we have any idea what the future will hold is not the smartest notion.

How then to prepare our kids for a world that is unpredictable, unknown? By teaching them to adapt, to deal with change, to be prepared for anything by not preparing them for anything specific.

This requires an entirely different approach to child-rearing and education. It means leaving our old ideas at the door, and reinventing everything.

My drop-dead gorgeous wife Eva (yes, I’m a very lucky man) and I are among those already doing this. We homeschool our kids — more accurately, we unschool them. We are teaching them to learn on their own, without us handing knowledge down to them and testing them on that knowledge.

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It is, admittedly, a wild frontier, and most of us who are experimenting with unschooling will admit that we don’t have all the answers, that there is no set of “best practices”. But we also know that we are learning along with our kids, and that not knowing can be a good thing — an opportunity to find out, without relying on established methods that might not be optimal.

I won’t go too far into methods here, as I find them to be less important than ideas. Once you have some interesting ideas to test, you can figure out an unlimited amount of methods, and so my dictating methods would be too restrictive.

Instead, let’s look at a good set of essential skills that I believe children should learn, that will best prepare them for any world of the future. I base these on what I have learned in three different industries, especially the world of online entreprenurship, online publishing, online living … and more importantly, what I have learned about learning and working and living in a world that will never stop changing.

1. Asking questions.

What we want most for our kids, as learners, is to be able to learn on their own. To teach themselves anything. Because if they can, then we don’t need to teach them everything — whatever they need to learn in the future, they can do on their own. The first step in learning to teach yourself anything is learning to ask questions. Luckily, kids do this naturally — our hope is to simply encourage it. A great way to do this is by modeling it. When you and your child encounter something new, ask questions, and explore the possible answers with your child. When he does ask questions, reward the child instead of punishing him (you might be surprised how many adults discourage questioning).

2. Solving problems.

If a child can solve problems, she can do any job. A new job might be intimidating to any of us, but really it’s just another problem to be solved. A new skill, a new environment, a new need … they’re all simply problems to be solved. Teach your child to solve problems by modeling simple problem solving, then allowing her to do some very easy ones on her own. Don’t immediately solve all your child’s problems — let her fiddle with them and try various possible solutions, and reward such efforts. Eventually, your child will develop confidence in her problem-solving abilities, and then there is nothing she can’t do.

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3. Tackling projects.

As an online entrepreneur, I know that my work is a series of projects, sometimes related, sometimes small and sometimes large (which are usually a group of smaller projects). I also know that there isn’t a project I can’t tackle, because I’ve done so many of them. This post is a project. Writing a book is a project. Selling the book is another project. Work on projects with your kid, letting him see how it’s done by working with you, then letting him do more and more by himself. As he gains confidence, let him tackle more on his own. Soon, his learning will just be a series of projects that he’s excited about.

4. Finding passion.

What drives me is not goals, not discipline, not external motivation, not reward … but passion. When I’m so excited that I can’t stop thinking about something, I will inevitably dive into it fully committed, and most times I’ll complete the project and love doing it. Help your kid find things she’s passionate about — it’s a matter of trying a bunch of things, finding ones that excite her the most, helping her really enjoy them. Don’t discourage any interest — encourage them. Don’t suck the fun out of them either — make them rewarding.

5. Independence.

Kids should be taught to increasingly stand on their own. A little at a time, of course. Slowly encourage them to do things on their own. Teach them how to do it, model it, help them do it, help less, then let them make their own mistakes. Give them confidence in themselves by letting them have a bunch of successes, and letting them solve the failures. Once they learn to be independent, they learn that they don’t need a teacher, a parent, or a boss to tell them what to do. They can manage themselves, and be free, and figure out the direction they need to take on their own.

6. Being happy on their own.

Too many of us parents coddle our kids, keeping them on a leash, making them rely on our presence for happiness. When the kid grows up, he doesn’t know how to be happy. He must immediately attach to a girlfriend or friends. Failing that, they find happiness in other external things — shopping, food, video games, the Internet. But if a child learns from an early age that he can be happy by himself, playing and reading and imagining, he has one of the most valuable skills there is. Allow your kids to be alone from an early age. Give them privacy, have times (such as the evening) when parents and kids have alone time.

7. Compassion.

One of the most essential skills ever. We need this to work well with others, to care for people other than ourselves, to be happy by making others happy. Modeling compassion is the key. Be compassionate to your child at all times, and to others. Show them empathy by asking how they think others might feel, and thinking aloud about how you think others might feel. Demonstrate at every opportunity how to ease the suffering of others when you’re able, how to make others happier with small kindnesses, how that can make you happier in return.

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8. Tolerance.

Too often we grow up in an insulated area, where people are mostly alike (at least in appearance), and when we come into contact with people who are different, it can be uncomfortable, shocking, fear-inducing. Expose your kids to people of all kinds, from different races to different sexuality to different mental conditions. Show them that not only is it OK to be different, but that differences should be celebrated, and that variety is what makes life so beautiful.

9. Dealing with change.

I believe this will be one of the most essential skills as our kids grow up, as the world is always changing and being able to accept the change, to deal with the change, to navigate the flow of change, will be a competitive advantage. This is a skill I’m still learning myself, but I find that it helps me tremendously, especially compared to those who resist and fear change, who set goals and plans and try to rigidly adhere to them as I adapt to the changing landscape. Rigidity is less helpful in a changing environment than flexibility, fluidity, flow. Again, modeling this skill for your child at every opportunity is important, and showing them that changes are OK, that you can adapt, that you can embrace new opportunities that weren’t there before, should be a priority. Life is an adventure, and things will go wrong, turn out differently than you expected, and break whatever plans you made — and that’s part of the excitement of it all.

We can’t give our children a set of data to learn, a career to prepare for, when we don’t know what the future will bring. But we can prepare them to adapt to anything, to learn anything, to solve anything, and in about 20 years, to thank us for it.

More by this author

Leo Babauta

Founder of Zen Habits and expert in habits building and goals achieving.

The Gentle Art of Saying No For a Less Stressful Life What to Do in Free Time? 20 Productive Ways to Use the Time Simple Productivity: 10 Ways to Do More by Focusing on the Essentials How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life How to Pare Your To-do List Down to the Essentials

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Last Updated on October 5, 2020

13 Best Board Games For Adults To Play During Quarantine

13 Best Board Games For Adults To Play During Quarantine

This pandemic has forced many of us to be in our own homes for an indeterminate amount of time. And needless to say, many of us have been feeling the effects of self-isolation and quarantine for a while.

That said, one thing that can take us from that edge is board games. Board games have evolved a lot since we were little and have given rise to a wide variety of classics that have been released in the past decade or two. For this list, we are looking at some of the best board games for adults that avoid some of the classics and introduce new and exciting board games to try out.

Qualifications For Best Board Games

Before hopping into the best board games we have to offer, here are the measures that we’ve taken when putting together this list. With these things in mind, you’ll be sure to be entertained with these board games.

  • Length – How long does it take to play through the game? Some games tend to lose their excitement after a while and drag on. These board games don’t for various reasons.
  • Engagement – The level of interaction that you have with other players and on the board is important. Makes the game fun, entertaining, and exciting to play no matter how long it takes to play through a round.
  • Complexity – From the rules down to the number of pieces, you want to ensure the complexity of the game isn’t too overwhelming. We’ve picked out games that have a learning curve, but not so much that it takes a long time to get the hang of it.
  • Rules – The rules should be written clearly and have a small amount of them. You want to be hopping into the game and not be forced to remember too many rules or constantly check the rule book for reference.
  • Players involved – Every person has a different living situation in quarantine. Some have a family, while others may be isolated on their own or with one other person. You want board games to be versatile and still playable whether there is only yourself or you have three or more other people with you.

1. Best Board Games Overall: Azul

    The first on our list of best board games for adults is Azul. It’s a relatively new board game and involves tile laying. The idea with Azul is you are racing with other players to decorate the wall of a fictional Portugeuse Palace. This game strikes a balance between strategy and planning your moves to being efficient.

    Even if it doesn’t sound that exciting at first, getting into the game you’ll find the strategy of this game to be complex enough that you can play it several times over. The mark of a great board game for sure.

    Buy Azul here.

    2. Best Board Games For Strategy: Splendor

      If you want more strategy involved in your game, we recommend trying out Splendor. It’s a highly rated strategy game amongst the board game community where each player is working towards building a jewelry empire. You do this through developing mines, collecting gems, and eventually opening up a storefront to sell these gems.

      The goal of the game is to have the most successful business in the end. To get there you’ll need to compete with other players over resources as well as infrastructure.

      The rules are straightforward making it easy to pick up, but there are many strategies you can go with this game. On top of that, its the type of game where your decisions can impact the course of the game in future turns.

      Buy Splendor here.

      3. Best Game For Cooperation: Pandemic

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        Much on the nose with this game – but great to play regardless – is Pandemic. This cooperative game pushes you to join intellectual forces with other players to stop the spread of diseases.

        In order to do this, each player takes on a role and collaborates to devise new treatment strategies. Going to different cities across the globe, you’ll collect cards that’ll help in treating outbreaks in certain hotspots.

        Overall, it’s a strategy based game as players have to plan out their moves carefully and are restricted in what they can do based on their role.

        Buy Pandemic here.

        4. Best Board Games With Trading: Catan

          Most circles call this game Settlers Of Catan, this is a classic game that is a delight to play with not much pressure. The premise of the game is to expand territory on settlements, roads, and cities. How you do this is through using resources like wood, stone and brick.

          How you get these resources is based on what areas you have roads or buildings. But more often than not, you’ll find yourself short on the resources that you need. This is where trading is involved where you are able to trade resources with other players.

          The rule book for this game can seem intimidating, however, it’s straightforward as you can tell. This game brings trading resources and interacting with other people in a unique way.

          Buy Catan here.

          5. Best Board Games For Larger Groups: 7 Wonders

            Whether you have a small or a large group, 7 Wonders is a solid game to try out. Most on this list are a four player game at maximum, 7 Wonders can have up to 7 players at a time. For this game, the length of the game is divided into three “ages”. During each age, you’ll be collecting cards that’ll help you build one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Each of these wonders will either have immediate or latent benefits to them.

            The goal overall is to have your civilization reign supreme. That said, there is no issue with taking a page from Catan and trading resources with players right next to you. You can even sell off your resources or even share insider knowledge and research if you like. The game is very easy to understand and games can last about 30 minutes making it a nice quick game regardless of player count.

            Buy 7 Wonders here.

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            6. Best Board Game For Long Games: Ticket To Ride

              Another classic and one of the best board games for adults out there is Ticket To Ride. This is a game that is brought up many times amongst board game users. Part of that reason may be due to the fact it has similarities to the older board game Monopoly.

              The only difference with Ticket To Ride is you’re building a railway system instead with way more tension in it. The goal is to collect the most points through placing a like-colored set of train cards on the board and connecting them to cities, building longer routes and building the longest continuous railway system by the end.

              Whether you are new to board games or a veteran, this is one of the best ones to try it out. The rule book is slim with only four pages long and two of them are illustrations. You can even get Amazon Alexa to both teach and play along with you.

              Buy Ticket To Ride here.

              7. Best Board Games For Short Games: Dominion

                Card-drawing board games are often the kind of games that go by quickly and one that comes to mind is Dominion. It’s medieval-themed where you start with 10 copper and estate cards. The goal of the game is amassing the most victory and treasure cards as you can which in turn allows you to buy even more valuable expensive cards.

                During the game, there are many cards that interact with another and with other players. For example, there are cards that allow you to look at other players’ hands and make various decisions, for better or worse.

                The game is similar to the story of a man who starts off with something small and benign and traded his way to something massive and expensive.

                Buy Dominion here.

                8. Best Card-Based Game: Boss Monster

                  While this isn’t exactly a board game, it is card based and is a lot of fun. It plays out similarly to dungeon crawlers where wizards, warriors, clerics, and rogues go into dungeons to slay the boss at the end. The only difference is that you are playing the boss now and need to stop the heroes from getting to you.

                  How you do this is by setting up your rooms with traps that deal damage to the heroes as they travel to each floor. You’ve also got spells to enhance your traps. This is on top of building your dungeon up in a way that the heroes would want to go there.

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                  There is a lot of strategy and planning involved with this game, however it’s one of the most straightforward games with plenty of replayability. Each game is going to be different than the last.

                  Buy Boss Monster here.

                  9. Best Board Games For Sleuths: Codenames

                    For small or large groups, codenames is a fun game where you divide yourself into two teams. From those teams, you’ll elect a “spymaster” who will then provide word clues to assist their team in identifying a secret word associated with that team. The secret words are based on seemingly random words provided from this game.

                    The catch with this game is that your clues can only be one word long, requiring the teams to think quickly and the spymaster to think strategically about the code words to get people to guess the proper code word.

                    Buy Codenames here.

                    10. Best Board Games For Two: Sequence

                      While there are certainly other board games that incorporate cards in them, Sequence is one to use them both in a unique way. In this game, players take turns putting down a card followed by a chip on the corresponding spot. The objective of this game is to have five chips, or sequences, in a row. Another way to describe the game is this is a larger and sophisticated version of Tic-Tac-Toe.

                      It’s good for two people, but considering the size of the board, you can get others involved too. The more players involved can add more layers of strategy and competition to it.

                      Buy Sequence here.

                      11. Best Board Games Solo: Geode Puzzles

                        While this isn’t a board game either, puzzles can be a lot of fun to do if you have spare time. While you can pick up any kind of puzzle, one that is nice for adults is geode puzzles.

                        Depending on the type of geode puzzles you get, some of them will have more unique and intricate pieces compared to traditional puzzle pieces. Furthermore, geode puzzles require more concentration and thought to them since they have specific patterns to them. It adds a layer of challenge to them since traditional pieces you can refer to the box art or where everything is placed.

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                        Buy Geode Puzzles here.

                        12. Best Board Games For Adults Who Love Nature: Wingspan

                          For those looking for a birds-eye view of nature, Wingspan is a great game with hours of entertainment. The art direction with this board game is especially unique while the gameplay provides hours of entertainment.

                          In the game, you are responsible for fostering a mini-ecosystem and building out a chain of wildlife preserves across four habitats. How you do this is by allocating food tokens found in bird feeder dice towers and eggs through unique playing cards. Each species has its own needs and special abilities so you’ll need to manage all of that while reaching your goal.

                          Buy Wingspan here.

                          13. Best Board Games For Adults Who Want Something Different: The Mind

                            A game that takes about 15 minutes to play but is incredibly interesting is The Mind. It’s similar to the card game Kent, but adds another level to it. In it, you’re playing cards from your hand in order (Ace, two, three, four…).

                            The catch with this game though is that players aren’t allowed to say anything about what is in their hand and you are forced to come up with your own non-verbal language in order to communicate with one another.

                            As simplistic of a game as it is, it’s a completely different one since it involves no talking at all and forces you to meld your minds together to complete this task.

                            Buy The Mind here.

                            Final Thoughts

                            Board games used to be simplistic in nature with games like Mouse Trap, Scrabble, Monopoly, and many others. Since those times, board games have expanded to more fun and exciting games that can provide hours of entertainment. There are hundreds out there, but we recommend looking at some of these best board games for adults to try out and enjoy.

                            Featured photo credit: Christopher Paul High via unsplash.com

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