Your kids’ social skills are more important than scoring an A
Soft skills in kindergarten or preschool play an important part in developing your child’s future
You know how it is when the family gets together, or when you’re catching up with friends. Comparing your children’s achievements somehow always crops up when you never want to talk about it.
“How’s your baby doing? Can he already count to 100?” “Has your daughter already read 100 books? Mine has!”
Yes, early education is a key foundation for your kids. But studies have shown that in reality, social “soft skills” are more important than “hard skills”, and that’s what your kids should be learning in kindergarten or preschool.
Why are social skills important for your child?
Learning social skills actually helps your kids when they grow to become responsible adults.
Studies show that social skills that are learnt while kids were in kindergarten, are correlated to the success of the same children when they became 25 years old.
This is despite how many books they read, how well they can count or how much money they were born into. As long as your children show the ability to speak and make friends, they are more likely to graduate with a degree and get a job, when compared to those who lack social skills.
It’s important for you to look for the right kindergartens or preschools that encourage your kids to play and have social interactions with their peers, as they are an indicator to your child’s success in future.
Here’s 5 ideas to encourage social soft skills with your child
1. Play well with friends
Playing is a way for kids to learn how to solve problems, negotiate, share and take turns, as well as experiment with thoughts and ideas. Set play dates or just give your children time to play with their friends. Take them to the public playground where they can make new friends – supervised but without any instructions from you or the other mums there.
2. Problem solving
While its tempting to be the supermum whenever junior has a problem, it’s more important for him to learn how to solve the problem on his own. The next time he has a problem, ask him to describe what’s the problem and think of solutions to solve said problem. Support your child rather than handling the problem for him.
Ask questions like, “What do you think you can do?” In a situation. This teaches the importance of trying again after failing, evaluating a situation, how to improve oneself, and how to move forward after the problem.
3. Recognising feelings
If your child understands what someone else is feeling, her empathy helps her to connect easily with others. Try developing this skill by calling out emotional cues like, “Your brother looks sad because you took his toy” or “You and your friends look so happy after winning the game”.
Storybooks are a great way for kids to learn emotion and conflict from a third party point-of-view. Avoid smartphones and iPads as excessive screen use can impact the way your child empathises with others. Face-to-face interaction is the key.
4. Becoming helpful
When you see your kids helping others, notice and compliment them for it. Try asking your child to help you around the house, like helping the baby get dressed or giving you a hand with storing the groceries in the fridge, then show your appreciation generously. Thank others who help and show them how important it is to show gratitude, even to the cashier at NTUC. Your child sees and follows your example.
5. Keep impulses in check
Your child will find it hard to control their impulses, because the area of the brain that controls impulses doesn’t develop until early adulthood. Help them practice this skill. Try playing games like “Simon says” “freeze dance” or “musical chairs” to give them practice on start-stopping their thought process, and learning not to move on impulse.
Alternatively, try playing pretend games. Act out a scene with your children, and give them a new character and story, like a superhero storyline. In these scenes, they can plan how to act, practice taking turns and learn how to follow rules. Because they are pretending to be someone else, they will think out of the box from a different perspective outside of their own.
Soft skills is the way forward
Singapore’s fast paced society means we always want our children to have the highest grades in the class. But the truth is social soft skills they pick up early in their life is what really sets the foundation for their future. It’s as easy as playing with others, engaging with the whole family and being attentive to the world that’s around them.