Why are social skills important and what social skills should your child learn in Kindergarten?
While academic success is generally considered important for young children, a widely cited Oregon State University study suggests that social skills are much better predictors of long-term success. The results of this research seem to be strengthened by a 2017 study involving 164 “shy” preschoolers conducted by researchers from the Yale-NUS College in Singapore. The head researcher of the study noted that “…the presence of a good vocabulary in a shy child offered no additional buffering effect for peer likeability if he did not possess high-functioning social communication skills.” In other words, it appeared that social skills were a bigger factor than vocabulary in predicting whether a child would be liked by their peers.
This makes the kindergarten years an especially important time for children, as this is when they will be first exposed to several other children in their peer group. Your interactions with your child will give them a baseline from which to begin their first substantial interactions with people outside your family. Being mindful of how you talk to your child and other people can have serious implications for how they, in turn, will interact with their peers.
There are plenty of top schools for kindergarten Singapore-based parents can send their children to that help kids develop their social skills from a very young age. That being said, it helps for you to be also aware of some of the most important skills you must cultivate in your child even before enrolling them in school. Here are some of these skills:
Active listening is all about how a child receives and interprets verbal and nonverbal communication. A child’s ability to listen will ultimately impact their ability to understand others. Therefore, the ability to listen actively can impact their empathy as well as their academics.
In order to help your child develop their active listening skills, make sure that they are engaged when you interact with them. Try to remove as many distractions as possible when you’re enjoying free time with your child. It may also be beneficial to show a good example by also engaging in active listening when conversing with your child.
There is much more to verbal communication than the use of vocabulary. How a child uses and understands the register and tone of other people’s words will also impact how well they communicate.
You can help encourage your child to develop their vocabulary by employing some active listening of your own. Observe them and listen to what they have to say to learn what sort of things or topics they are into. Then, you can use these interests as jumping-off points to teach them new words and other important concepts.
If for example, they are interested in dinosaurs, you can use a picture to describe parts of a dinosaur such as its eyes, teeth, tail, skin, and so on. Try to avoid baby talk and keep things as engaging as possible.
Facial cues, eye contact, hand gestures, and body language are all examples of nonverbal communication. This type of communication can be used by itself or to provide specific context to verbal communication.
Research into babies seems to indicate that a lot of nonverbal communication comes instinctively for humans. However, many nonverbal cues are cultural and need to be learned. You can help your child develop their nonverbal communication skills through example and by providing the proper instruction when they are confused.
Flexibility and Negotiation
Understanding compromise and agreement early on will help your child become better prepared to overcome setbacks and build productive relationships. Encouraging your child to present their case rather than getting unruly if they want playtime or dessert, for instance, can help build a foundation for logic, empathy, and issue resolution. If you have children playing together, help them resolve issues through sharing and encourage them to work things out without fighting or harming each other.
The ability to communicate one’s interests or points without being deceitful or hurtful is something that even some adults struggle with. Make it clear to your child that it’s OK for them to say no and ask questions if something feels wrong or doesn’t make sense. Teach by example and show them that it’s possible to get a point across and exercise empathy for others at the same time.
Accepting Tradeoffs and Setbacks
While it’s all well and good for children to know how to negotiate and assert themselves, it’s also important for them to know how to accept negative situations in a productive way.
Decisions will only become more complex for your child as time goes on, so they must understand the tradeoffs and consequences. Even as early as kindergarten, you should be teaching your child how to identify options, how to weigh them, how to forecast the effects of each option, and how to accept trade-offs.
Emotional regulation helps your child relate better with others while also teaching them how to delay gratification in favor of better rewards later on. The first step is to help them identify their different emotions. From there, you can help them find a proper strategy for acknowledging and channeling those emotions without repressing them.
Teaching kids emotional regulation can be challenging but ultimately worthwhile. Check out this resource for tips on teaching kids how to handle their emotions.
Problem-solving is all about the application of creativity, logic, and social skills. By giving your child a good foundation in problem-solving, you can help them become confident, proactive, and productive adults who are not afraid to approach others for help.
Make sure to observe your child and listen to them to find out what their current problems are. Help them identify problems and work with them to find and try solutions. When appropriate, encourage them to talk with peers and authority figures who can help them.
Keep encouraging them even if a solution fails to work by maintaining a constructive and positive attitude. This may help them get a healthy appreciation of the role of failure in experimentation and learning. Doing this consistently may ultimately help your child become resilient, inquisitive, and sociable, making it more likely they will succeed later in life.
Start Building Your Child’s Social Skills
Social skills influence how children interact with others, something that ultimately has wide-reaching consequences for most people. Children with better social skills usually grow to be more confident and are thus more proactive, even in other areas of life such as academics. Children with better social skills also have a better chance of growing up into better-rounded and resilient adults.
Developing your child’s interpersonal skills starts at home. However, it’s also important that they have access to educators who understand the value of these skills. When your child is the right age, make sure to enroll them in a kindergarten in Singapore that has a reputation for cultivating soft skills as well as academic excellence.