By Teachers, For Teachers
A child’s social success both in school and outside of school is important. Accepting others, actively listening, resolving conflicts, and taking turns are just a few skills that children need in order to effectively communicate in all their environments. Lack of these skills will negatively affect their success to actively be a contributing member in society.
Social skills should be taught in and outside of the classroom. Parents can reinforce these skills and practice with their children at home. Here are a few teaching strategies on how to improve a child’s social success, as well as a few tips on how parents can help at home.
Students need to understand the need for learning social skills. A great way for them to understand this is to give them a real-world example. Adults use their social skills in the workplace as well as in their community. Talk to the students about what social skills they think their parents use in their everyday lives. Here is a list of ideas to get you started.
Once students get the idea of what kind of social skills their parents use in their everyday lives, have them choose a few to practice themselves. You can do this by partnering students up and having them role play and act out scenarios that he/she would use appropriate and non-appropriate behaviors.
Parents have the opportunity to improve their child’s social skills at home. They can engage their children in different types of activities, as well as emphasize the necessary social skills that are important for the current situation that they are in. For example, when they are at the dinner table, they can emphasize taking turns talking, eating with their mouths closed, and using simple manners like saying “Please” and “Thank you.” Once learned, they will carry these social norms with them for the rest of their lives.
Besides reinforcing skills at the dinner table, parents can talk about social skills and help their child identify what is appropriate behavior and what is not for a specific social skill. For example, the child can role play (just like they did at school with their peers) what is, and is not appropriate behavior for a specific social skill.
Another way parents can build social skills at home is to have their child choose a skill to work on each week. The child can create a chart and record how often they used the skill and if they used it correctly. For example, let’s say that the goal is to work on not interrupting anyone when they are talking. Each day that they child uses the social skill and uses it correctly (which means no interrupting while people are talking) they get a star on the chart. Once they master this skill, they choose another skill to work on, and so on.
Once children and parents have committed to learning and practicing social skills at home, they should review the skills learned. This will help cement what they have learned and help the parents (and the teacher) really know if they understand it. Children can review these skills by having parents quiz them. To do this, the parents would choose a social skill like “Following directions” and have the child utilize that skill in some way. The parent would go down the chart of skills learned and quiz their child one-by-one to see if they have successfully understood each skill.
By teaching social skills to children both inside of the classroom and outside, we are increasing the chances for successful appropriate interaction among students. This will help to maximize our teaching time, as well as encourage students to use these skills at home.
How do you teach social skills to your students? Do you have any tips or activities that you would like to share? Please feel free to share with us in comment section below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. 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, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.