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Four Social Skills That Will Help Your Child in School

September means that school has started and fall is coming which means lots of time thinking about things like homework and indoor activities.  In some ways, indoor activities require more social skills than outdoor activities as far as children are concerned.  Some children have difficulty with some of the basic social skills.  Children’s social skills are extremely important – studies have shown that having or acquiring these skills can help a child succeed in academic life, as well as away from it.  That is not to say that having social skills will make a child smarter.  It means that having social skills will make a child better able to learn and succeed in school.

#1 Listen – Children are not always going to listen.  That is a choice. But it is important for them to be able to listen when they need to.  Children need to have some listening skills to be able hear directions being given by parents and teachers.  They also need to know how to listen when their classmates and peers are speaking.  Listening to peers is an important skill.  The child who learns to be a conscientious listener will be able to hear and respond to comments and instructions as he or she gets older.  Conscientious listeners hear more of what the people around them are saying and are able to participate in any conversation in any situation.

#2 Follow – Children are not always going to follow the rules or follow directions.  This is also a choice.  The child should be taught to follow the instructions of the teacher or the parents, and follow the rules of the school of the home.  Teaching a child to follow rules and directions comes from clear communication about the consequences if he or she does not follow the rules and directions. If the child understands the consequences and make the choice not to follow, that is another issue altogether.  He or she needs to better understand why it is important to follow the rules and directions.

#3 Ask for Help – Children need to learn that it is okay to ask for help.  Modelling is the best way to communicate this kind of data.  When you as a parent, guardian, or teacher, need assistance, ask for it.  This will say to the child that asking for help is acceptable and that he or she does not have to do everything alone.  When he or she does ask for help, do not just give the child the answer.  Guide him or her in way that will lead him or her toward the answer or a way of thinking that will lead toward the answer.  Children are not stupid, they just do not have the benefit of experience that adults have.

#4 Be Responsible – Teaching a child to be responsible may be no easy task.  It will be hard on the child and hard on the adult.  You must first ask the child to take responsibility for him or herself.  This means keeping track of his or her belongings, owning up when a wrong has been done, or doing the tasks that have been assigned without a fight.  These are all difficult for children whose primary function to this point has likely been to just be.  Teaching responsibility is a process that will likely take a while to really see the benefits.  Children will forget and misplace things.  They will display unacceptable behaviors and not own up.  They will fight about doing their chores or assignments.  But instilling in them a sense of responsibility will carry over into their adult lives where it will make the most difference.

Children’s Social Skills and Academic Success

Having these social skills and others can help a child succeed in school.  They will be better able to cooperate and practice self-control, which reduces behavior problems and increases the amount of time the whole class spends learning.  Most of these social skills are not taught in the classrooms.  These are things that either children acquire over time or they will need to be taught at home.  As class sizes increase and resources decrease, teachers are often too pressured to be able to deal with the basic social skills that can help children learn.  Children may require some outside help in order to master these skills, and that is completely acceptable.  No matter where your child learns the basics of social interaction and acceptable behavior, he or she will benefit from the knowledge for the rest of his or her life.

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