Social skills refer to both verbal and non-verbal communication such as gestures, facial expressions, speech, and body language. These skills have a key role to play in the overall development of a child.
Apart from ensuring the academic development of students, it is also important to emphasize the blend of social skills in the curriculum. This will help the students to make friends, interact effectively with their classmates, and cooperate in social environments. It is important to teach these skills to children early in life to ensure their overall development. Even if one chooses to teach online, this aspect must be taken care of by the educators.
Importance of Social Skills in Child Development
Certain milestones dictate the growth and development of a child. The development of social skills is one such key parameter. According to several studies, the absence of these skills can result in poor outcomes. It can affect the students’ ability to build relationships. It could also lead to loneliness and result in behavioral problems.
Social interactions are not always smooth. Individuals need to implement appropriate strategies such as conflict resolution when unexpected interactions take place. It is also crucial that students are taught the importance of empathy. This allows them to respond in an appropriate and caring manner.
Identifying Struggles with Social Skills
There are certain observations that experts believe can help identify if your student lacks the requisite social skills. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:
- Fleeing eye contact: A student who lacks these skills generally avoids eye contact with the person they are interacting with. Alternatively, some students might stare at you fixedly.
- Inappropriate body language: Some children might exhibit definitive body language such as standing too close or too far from another person during conversation.
- Struggles while communicating: Many times, students might fail to use polite forms of communication such as using words like please, thank you, goodbye, etc.
- Lack of interest: Young learners with a lack of social skills show little to no interest in what the other person is saying and struggle to keep up with the conversation.
- Lack of empathy: Students might not be able to imagine what it means to be in the situation of the other person.
Tips to Boost Social Skills
Help them learn by playing: Children have a tendency to listen to others and mimic their behaviour. This is why they should be exposed to a setup wherein they get to mimic what a teacher would want. A kindergarten setting is a great place to help such children interact with other children and put some social skills to practice.
Teach emotions: It is important to explain the role of emotions to students. Teachers can use flashcards with faces that exhibit various emotions. Speak to them and ask them to explain what a particular emotion means along with the importance of the same. Such activities using flashcards help bring out their inner personality to a great extent.
Use social situations: Teachers can develop appropriate social stories to help the students teach about the best ways to respond in specific situations. These could be real or fictional stories and need to be prepared with utmost care. Stories of empathy, morality, and ethics should be imparted to ensure that they are able to retain the values better.
As a teacher, it is important to keep a check on your students’ behaviour as this could have a long-lasting impact on their development. If there are multiple areas of concern, they should be brought up with the parents. Besides, you should ensure that you model the behaviour, role play, offer positive reinforcement and teach emotion regulation while inculcating social skill values.