Is it merely excelling in studies that make a student successful? We all know that being ‘book smart’ alone doesn’t help us much in our jobs and daily lives; we need to possess several other important skills as well.
The same applies to our kids too. As parents, we should be aware that in addition to encouraging our kids to grow intellectually, we need to help them become well-rounded individuals that possess good social skills as well.
To succeed in life, one social skill students need is taking turns when talking.
Researchers agree with this. In fact, recent studies show that simple skills such as asking for help, taking turns and doing nice things for others are as important for a student’s success as much as science and mathematics.
So much so that these researchers believe that advanced social skills will in turn help students excel in academics as well.
Stephen Elliot, a Vanderbilt Peabody education and psychology researcher and author clarifies this statement saying, “That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning.”
Students who are able to ignore distractions and focus are said to be able to excel in academics too.
He added that while researching this subject, his team found that elementary teachers and kids value self-control and cooperation. If you focus on teaching those skills to students, you can maximize learning time and minimize disruptive behaviour.
In his recently published book — The Social Skills Improvement System (SSIS) Classwide Intervention Program — Elliot and co-author Frank Gresham identify 10 social skills students need to succeed.
This list was derived from the results of a survey of more than 8,000 teachers done in 2006, and more than 20 years of research in classrooms in the U.S.
Another important skill is to be able to ask for help.
As per these results, the social skills students need to have are:
- Listening to others
- Following the steps
- Following the rules
- Ignoring distractions
- Asking for help
- Taking turns when you talk
- Getting along with others
- Staying calm with others
- Being responsible for your behaviour
- Doing nice things for others
Kids who listen to others are easier to get along with in general.
Although the survey was done in 2006, Elliot stated that the results were the same as another survey done in 1989. This shows that society hasn’t changed when it comes to what it values as essential social skills.
10-week program to teach these essential skills to students
In their book, Elliot and Gresham present a detailed 10-week program to help teachers incorporate the teaching of these skills into the curriculum of pre-school and middle-school kids.
Teaching children to be compassionate and do nice things for others is very important.
This program includes a guide for teachers, videos and supplemental materials for students, and also a simple screening tool teachers can use to assess a student’s social and academic skills.
What’s great about this program is that it aims not to increase the teachers’ workload, but rather help teachers teach these skills while teaching other subjects, and be more effective in general.
The assessment tool will help teachers track the students’ progress and find out how to provide assistance to address specific student needs.
Isn’t it much easier to handle a group of kids who get along? Getting along with others is yet another important social skill.
Through this program, parental involvement is encouraged as well. Based on the initial assessment and the subsequent follow-ups, parents can help their kids if they need to develop any particular social skill.
Parents, we’d like to know what your thoughts are on developing your child’s social skills. How important do you think social skills are compared with academics? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.