In the past, children were taught that if they truly wanted to learn, that they needed to "leave their feelings at the door." It was instilled in them that their feelings were irrelevant to the retention of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, and that social emotional issues were considered to be completely separate and distinct from academic material that one learns over the course of the school day. Adults assumed that children played simply to pass the time, and that play was something that needed to be kept in check during while children were at school. Recently, many teachers have embraced the concept of teaching social skills in the classroom, noting that their job extends beyond teaching curriculum, and that they can play an integral role in shaping children's characters and ability to relate to others. Choosing a school that places an emphasis on social emotional skills can have many intrinsic benefits for children that occur long after they leave the school doors.
Social skills are comprised of our emotions, ethics, and behaviors. When we put on focus on teaching social skills in the school system, this does not mean we are hyper focusing on a child's popularity. By teaching social skills at school, we are providing children with the opportunity to learn to sincerely care for others, and engage in socially responsible actions. When we teach social skills at school, we are instilling resilience in children by providing them with a toolkit that they can use to make long lasting relationships with others, something that we all need to draw upon during hard times with others.Teaching social skills helps children across a variety of different spheres of their life. Actively teaching social skills can improve academic achievement, improve conduct in the home and out in the community, and can promote positive attitudes about oneself and others. Simply put, taking the time to actively develop a child's social skills can help them to see themselves in a positive light by illustrating the kind, considerate, and thoughtful things that they can do for others. I.e. the positive feelings that they can get when they see how much they can make someone happy by simply sharing a toy or a game. When teachers make an effort to teach conversation skills and appropriate greetings, children learn skills that they will take with them well into their adulthood. When teachers help children to gain an understanding of personal space, children learn how to make sure their friends are comfortable, and socially appropriate ways to interact with friends during play time. When teachers provide opportunities for children to learn to detect verbal and non verbal cues in their environment, children become better positioned to express their ideas to others and understand what others might be looking for them in return.
When we allow promote the development of efforts to teach social skills in the school system, we are allowing children to learn ways to understand and manage their emotions,. understand the concept of empathy and how they can show empathy to others, and how to communicate with others in such a way that allows them to maintain positive relationships. Even the most popular and socially adept of children can benefit from social skills coaching. Teaching social skills also allows children to learn about themselves and gain a better understanding of their strengths and how they can relate to others in their environment. While social skills might be intuitive for some, it is important to recognize that not all children have the ability to learn social skills at home, and that it is essential to provide all children with the opportunity to learn skills that are essential to a positive life trajectory.
Christophersen, E.R. & Mortweet, S. R. (2002). Parenting that Works: Building Skills that Last a Lifetime. Washington, DC: APA Books.
Peterson, G. W. & Leigh, G. K. (1990).The family and social competence in adolescence. T. Gullotta, G. Adams, & T. Montemayor (Eds.) Developing social competency in adolescence, pp97-138. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.