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The "Future" Starts Today

All educational experiences build foundational knowledge setting the stage for the future, but when learning is planned, future goals can be realized because they have been “purposely” built.

These five tips can guide teachers and parents in how to prepare students for the future that lies ahead of them:

1. Teach the skills that support collaboration

Being collaborative involves interpersonal skill development. Today’s students require new skills in order to be ready to collaborate with others. Whatever they do, we can expect their work to include finding creative solutions to emerging challenges.

2. Instruct students on the “process” of interpreting information

New information is being discovered at a rate faster than can be calculated. It is predicted that 50 percent of the facts students are memorizing today will no longer be accurate in the near future. Given the scope and quantity of information being developed, students need to know how to find accurate information, and how to use critical analysis for determining whether the found information meets the needs of their inquiry. These are the executive functions that will need to be developed both at home and school to be prepared for tomorrow.

3. Help students to demonstrate tolerance

In order for collaboration to happen effectively, future leaders will be evaluated by their ability for communication with, openness to, and tolerance for unfamiliar cultures and ideas. To foster these critical skills, today's students will need open discussions and experiences that can help them learn about and feel comfortable communicating with people of other cultures.

4. Help students learn through their strengths

Children are born with brains that want to learn. They're also born with different strengths -- and they grow best through those strengths. One size does not fit all in assessment and instruction. Look ahead on school district curriculum maps and help promote each student's interest in the topic before instruction begins. "Front-loading" students with content information sparks the natural curiosity in us all.

5. Take learning beyond the classroom

New "learning" does not become permanent memory unless there is repeated stimulation of the new memory circuits in the brain pathways. Students need to use what they learn repeatedly and in different, personally meaningful ways for short-term memories to become permanent knowledge that can be retrieved and used in the future. Bringing classroom instruction into everyday life enhances long-term application of what has been learned for a lifetime of future experiences.

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