Skills Based Learning – What is it?

I am a big believer in skills based learning. If you know me, and have been around me any length of time, you will hear me talk about it and why I focus on a skills based education approach for my girls.

** This is the first in a series……what is skills based learning? how does it work? How do we implement it? And then I will do some vlogs with ideas on how you can work on skills over the summer break. **


Skills-based learning is where we teach students a specific skill. We are not focusing on the specific content to be learned but learning skills. This means that we are teaching our children how to find out or achieve the correct answers, but also to achieve this each time because they have the skill, not just a memorized fact or information.

critical thinking is part of skills based learning


There are skills that are known as the 21st century skills. These are often called the 4Cs. They are usually taught in businesses or to adults, but what if we teach them to children too? Children also need these skills to be successful in life and in their communities. We all need to be able to share our thoughts, our questions, our ideas and our solutions.

What are the 4cs? They are communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

  • COMMUNICATION – listening, speaking, observing, empathizing
  • COLLABORATION – teamwork, adaptability
  • CRITICAL THINKING – problem solving, decision making, innovation, negotiation, influence
  • CREATIVITY – the ability to think differently (outside the box) 

Strategy and Implementation are also interwoven through these 4Cs, especially in critical thinking. These are also key skills to have (but don’t start with C… we will leave them interwoven).

boy doing math


But I think it is more than that. There are other skills we need for learning. What are they? Think the original 3Rs. 

  • Reading – how do we read? How do we achieve fluency?
  • Writing- the mechanics on forming letters in both print and cursive, formulating ideas and presenting them (as stories, as sentences, as essays)
  • Math skills – arithmetic and advanced levels of math


As I have been teaching my girls, and evaluating all that I have been taught, etc. I find my educational philosophy changing and have settled on my formula for education……the 4Cs+3Rs. Together they are key to learning.

4Cs + 3Rs =

formula for education

Is it better to learn content (knowledge) or skills?

There is definitely a place for knowledge but skills are vital. In the day and age of google, the internet and libraries, we can find content (and hopefully discern facts and bias). To me, it is more important to use the skills that we learn and these skills will carry us through our life. **Opinion time** I honestly think that we need to be teaching the 4Cs to our kids! I am seeing too many children (and adults) who are not able to engage in good critical thinking, or find it difficult to plan and implement because everything has been assigned as to what they should learn, and these skills are put on the back burner. Communication skills are lacking (especially in being able to present their own thoughts) and this sad.

It is my desire that my girls are strong in the 4Cs. We have been working on them already, but they are definitely always on my mind as I put ideas together when creating our “unschooling curriculum”.

If you would like to read a little more, here is an interesting article on the difference between knowledge based and skills based learning.

2 boys making faces
communication happens in many ways


In the upcoming vlogs I will look at how it works and how you can teach/incorporate it. I will then have some vlogs with ideas incorporating collaboration, problem solving, communication, and planning.


  1. Pingback: Activities for Collaboration - Skills Based Learning - Learning This Life


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    Your article gave me a lot of inspiration, I hope you can explain your point of view in more detail, because I have some doubts, thank you.

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