Social competence in kindergarten is associated with graduating high school, attending college, and future employment (Jones et al., 2015). This could be because children with social skills have developed readiness-to-learn skills. They know how to interact in a group, behave appropriately, and therefore are successful in an academic environment.Early emphasis on social skills is what will really help children achieve long-term success. Click To Tweet
While I’ve read the research and seen a bit of it in real-life, I still have mixed feelings that so much of a child’s future can be determined before they know 2×3=6. Research can reveal a trend or typical behavior in a population but their are always outliers. The exceptions to the rule, the unpredictable and random results.
Social competence sets up a kindergartener for long-term success but people make their own choices. Social skills don’t guarantee success but not having them doesn’t mean immediate and certain failure. We make our own choices and can choose who we want to and want we will do.
The power of social skills is almost unsettling but knowledge is power. Knowing how important social skills are is why it is so critical to help children develop social competence.
What Do We Do Next?
First, set an example of how to appropriately interact and behave. Growing up, my dad said he had one rule: “If I can’t do it, then you can’t do it.” If an adult can’t throw a temper tantrum or ‘borrow without permission,’ then we need to teach children that they can’t do those things either. With a proper example, setting expectations, and teaching social skills then children can start to develop those crucial social skills.
When teaching my preschoolers, I still focus on teaching pre-academic skills (letters, numbers, counting) but I also put a huge emphasis on incorporating social emotions skills into academics. An example of this is while teaching children the steps of how to manage anger, one of the steps includes the child counting to 10 before explaining why they are frustrated.
What are some strategies you use to teach social skills and what do you think about a kindergartener’s future being so determine by social competence?
Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early Social-Emotional Functioning and Public Health: The Relationship Between Kindergarten Social Competence and Future Wellness. American Journal Of Public Health, 105(11), 2283-2290. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302630