By Teachers, For Teachers
As teachers, we all know that students with strong social skills tend to be successful at school. Various studies have shown that children's social skills are important for school success, as well as their later adjustment. Research also shows that students without adequate social skills tend to be at risk for academic achievement.
If students aren’t learning basic, strong social skills at home, then is it our job to teach them at school? We must remember that our students are always watching and learning from us, whether we are teaching them or not. All we can do as teachers is provide instruction and model appropriate behaviors, as well as share our knowledge with parents so that their child can sour to the top of the class.
Here are a few tips to share with parents to help their child learn strong social skills and succeed both socially and academically in school.
Kindergarten/1st Grade Skills
Patience is the number-one skill that children just starting out in school need to have. This means children need to be able to wait their turn, sit for a long period of time and pay attention, and be able to wait in line quietly. This is not an easy feat for any small child. What parents can do to help their child learn this very important skill, is to give them a lot of opportunities to entertain themselves. Practice waiting in line at the grocery store, or the bank. Every night at bedtime, read to your child to help him improve his concentration. Day by day, stretch out the time waiting in line, or reading a book, to help them learn patience.
Pliability is a hard skill to master at such a young age, but if a child can master it, then it will pay off greatly in the years to come. Many children have a hard time taking chances because of the fear of making a mistake. What parents can do to help this common fear is talk to their child about how everyone makes mistakes and how you need to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. Anytime you make a mistake, point it out to your child so they can see that it's OK. By reinforcing that this is way we learn, children will soon feel safe to take chances.
2nd/3rd Grade Skills
When students enter second and third grade, they will be hit with taking on the burden of a lot of responsibility. At this stage in school comes a lot more homework, which means having to be organized as well as having the responsibility to remember everything he/she needs for school. What parents can do at home to help their child, is make them accountable for themselves, as well as their belongings. Parents can impose daily routines, where the child packs their own lunch, backpack, etc. This will help children learn that they are responsible for their own "stuff."
Students need the social skill of self-reliance, and they need to be able to be confident enough to express how they may feel about something or a situation. This is the age that children need to be able to resolve friendship squabbles on their own. What parents can do at home is urge their child to resolve their problems on their own. They can also role play social situations to teach their child how to effectively and confidently solve problems.
4th/5th Grade Skills
Fourth and 5th grade students tend to be reactionary, and need to learn the social skill of how to stand strong. This is the age where bullies are looking to get a reaction out of your child, so they need to know how to keep their cool. Parents can teach their children to stand up for themselves by role playing real-world situations. Something as simple as strong body language and a few persuasive words can defuse any bully situation, and give your child the confidence to stand strong.
Students at this age will be held accountable for everything. It is their job to be able to keep track of schoolwork, homework assignments, project due dates, and after school activities. They will also need to learn the consequences of misplacing or forgetting to hand in an assignment. What parents can do at home, is to help their child learn to be accountable for themselves and their stuff. If they misplace their homework, then they will have to deal with the wrath of the teacher. This will be a lesson they will not soon forget.
Do you have any tips to teach parents how they can raise a socially strong student? Please share with us in the comment section below!
Janelle Cox is an education writer who draws on her 15 years of professional experience in the education system. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, where she provides educational information and lesson plans for teachers around the globe.