HomeHealth & BehaviorSocial Skills


Why social skills are key to learning

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By Ellen Booth Church

What you can do

Help your child develop essential social and emotional skills by making connections with school friends at home. Ask her whom she would like to invite for a playdate. It is often easier for children to make friends in their own space one-on-one than in school. Many teachers have found that a child who is having difficulties making friends or sharing in a large group often can make a close connection to a new friend on her home turf. This relationship can then carry over to the classroom setting. Once there is a connection to one child in the classroom, more are soon to follow!

The importance of play

For your young child, play is important work. He grows, learns and investigates the world through play. This happens through complex play activities that invite him to think, problem-solve and participate in fantasy. When your child engages in play, he has to plan, create a focus and strive for a goal — all essential life and work skills. Your child's teacher should provide play situations throughout your child's day. She may first introduce letters and numbers through meaningful dramatic play, block-building and literature/music experiences. So don't fret if your child comes home saying he played all day! You can be sure that with his teacher's guidance and his own innate curiosity, he was applying very important problem-solving, reading, math and science skills right in the midst of his play.

The experiences your child has in the beginning of the year provide the foundation that will enable her to become an enthusiastic, lifelong learner — enthusiastic because she has discovered that learning is fun as well as meaningful.

Ellen Booth Church is a former professor of early childhood education, an education consultant and an author.

Comments from readers

"Areally ascending experiance. "
"Actually, the article uses both "her" and "he". It's disappointing when society places more emphasis on the "proper" way of things rather than the "process" of learning things by mistake. I can't blame some of these kids inattentiveness, imagination is a resource not the enemy. "
"Right on, Ellen Booth Church. We are putting the finishing touches on a fun and interactive program for the pre school crowd that inspires kindness, confidence, respect, communications and resilience. Role playing, discussions and activities complete the resource. A must for every parent who wants their child to become a successful learner. "
"Your article refers to the third person child as 'she,' while the proper way to refer to a 3rd person in English is 'he.' While this gaff may seem minor to most, as you are an educator, it is surprising to see such a basic language mistake."