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News in Youth Services

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ready for Kindergarten: Social Skills

Hello again friends! Let's take a look at this week's Ready for Kindergarten topic: social skills. Given the academic focus of kindergarten, it's really in everyone's best interest if these skills are well developed before kids get to the classroom. But do not fret! If your child hasn't mastered them, you can work on them at home.
Social skills for kindergarten include:
  • ability to take turns and share
  • raising hand to speak
  • ability to stay in seat when appropriate
  • ability to keep hands to themselves
  • able to walk and not run when asked
  • able to maintain eye contact when speaking
If you spotted that these are mostly impulse control tasks then you are on it! It's true that impulse control is one of the most challenging aspects for children and it's also true that children who demonstrate impulse control are likely to have an easier time in school.

The best way to introduce your child to the idea of turn taking and sharing is to have them interact with kids their own age. Older children are more likely to let younger children have their way, whereas kids of the same age will not be so willing to give up their own needs. This sounds painful to watch, and it can be, but one of the best ways to learn is by doing. If kids are in short supply in your neighborhood, you can play board games as a family--but remember that the goal is to teach taking turns and sharing. You can also play games like Mother-May-I or Simon Says to practice following directions.

Raising your hand to speak is a tricky one. There aren't a whole lot of places in life where hand-raising is a prerequisite for speaking. This is a learn-by-doing activity as well. You could make a game out of it or attend some of our summer performance events on Thursdays, where your child can see hand-raising in action.

The ability to stay seated is hard for everyone. If you eat dinner together around a table, you could encourage your child to ask to be excused from the table at the end of the meal.

Keeping hands to themselves is a skill that takes a few years to build. Use gentle reminders with your children when you are in crowded places.

The reason kids need to be able to walk and not run when asked is for their own safety. Imagine being in the middle of a pack of running kids and falling down! It would not end well for anyone.

Maintaining eye contact sends a clue to the person you are speaking with. It also allows the speaker to read facial and body clues.

If any of these skills are of concern to you, mention them to your child's kindergarten teacher. They want your child to have the best possible experience in school and are happy to have input on your child.

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