I like using the phrase “the skill of ________________” when talking to parents about various kid issues.  Using the phrase helps guide parents in terms of what they are targeting and helps a child to move forward.

Some time ago a friend of mine trained her kids (three boys) at a fairly young age the skill of making their lunch.  Effectively, she sized up their readiness to meet the demands of the task (she thought they were ready) and she taught them the skill.  After showing the boys the steps and having them practice each step to mastery, they internalized the skill.  Inernalizing the skill gave them a sense of mastery and personal competence, not to mention moving one step closer to independence

Here are some other examples of “the skill of” in action:

“We are practicing the skill of short vowels in one syllable words.’

“We are practicing the skill of multisyllabic words with short vowel sounds.”

The skill of inferences is what we are targeting.”

“This month we are practicing the skill of putting your homework in the right place in your book bag.”

To a child who never looks up from his iPad, when someone is saying hello,  one mom said, “September is devoted to  practicing the skill of saying hello to someone after they speak to you.”

“Skill of” thinking is good for both parent and child.  For the child the identified skill is finite and obtainable.  Once the skill is mastered, the child owns it.  It’s in his skill repertoire.

For the parents, it changes their thinking such things as, “We’re working on improving his ADD or his dyslexia”  to targeting very specific identifiable skills.  Working on ones’s ADD or dyslexia does not define really what it is that is being targeted or worked on to mastery.

Keep in mind that all skills have basically three zones to consider.  The independent zone represents the  zone where the skill is fully mastered and easy for the child.  Within the instructional zone, the skill is close to being fully mastered, but still needs some work. The frustration or difficulty zone is too hard for the child and should be avoided.  It is simply too difficult.  In general people cannot work within their frustration zone.

In the case of the lunch making boys, my friend correctly assessed that her kids were able to be in the instructional zone with this particular skill and that with some practice they could be in the independently managing the skill of making their lunch.

Takeaway Point

Use “skill of” thinking” wherever you can (not just with academics).  Be clear with your child in using the phrase “skill of,” as in,  “We are practicing the skill of making your bed.”

Be mindful of the zones of competence in determining the skill you are targeting and your level of expectation.