Remote Learning Can Only Go So Far
MCO 2.0 is different. There are still SOPs, but this time around, certain sectors are permitted to remain open. Preschools and child care centres are allowed to operate. This is good news to frontliners who have to depend on preschools and daycare centres to look after their children.
Then, there are virtual classes. Remote learning can only go so far. Picture this, there’s a computer screen. Sitting in front of it, at about half a meter away looking at the screen receiving instructions, is your child. And learning is supposed to take place in between them.
Despite the promise of what they can bring to teaching and learning, parents are still worried.
Rightly so. They’re worried about their children missing out on the other crucial aspects of the preschool experience such as social skills. The opportunity to develop these skills through interactions with other children and teachers is now slim to none. Read on to find out why social skills are important.
What Are Social Skills?
American Psychological Association (APA) describes social skills as a set of learned abilities. These abilities allow an individual to interact and communicate with one another competently.
These skills can be further described as the ability to cope, communicate, make friends, solve interpersonal problems as well as ability to regulate one’s cognitions, feelings, and behaviour.
Frank M. Gresham, in a chapter of a book titled Handbook of Behavior Therapy in Education, describes social skills as the ability to interact successfully with one’s peers and significant adults.
Personal competence is divided into three subdomains.
- Academic competence
This type of competence refers to skills that can be labeled as intellectual/cognitive, academic, perceptual-motor, and language.
- Social competence
Social competence refers to the effectiveness of a child to engage in social interactions with peers and adults.
It’s the ability to see a social situation from different perspectives and to learn from experiences and apply what he/she has learned from them to the ever-changing social landscape.
This book, titled Social Competence in Children, describes social competence as the foundation upon which expectations for future interactions with others are built and upon which children develop perceptions of their behaviour.
- Physical Competence
Physical competence is the ability to develop movement skills and patterns.
Why Are Social Skills Important?
Why are social skills important and what does a school have anything to do with them? To answer the former, this study has pointed to the importance of children’s social skills for early school success and school adjustment. The study found that children’s participation in the classroom and their ability to cooperate was an important predictor of early school success.
The study also found that uninvolved children in the classroom who had difficulty with simple rules or communicating with their teachers and peers scored lower on a standardised cognitive achievement measure. In other words, social skills can be said to be the key foundation that can set the stage for later social behaviour and academic performance.
So what role does a school play in all of this?
Schools serve as the main environment for any child to grow. It is where children can learn to initiate, maintain and develop interpersonal relationships – skills that are crucial for peer acceptance.
Five Essential Social Skills for Kids
Manners are taught. Children mimic what they see and hear. Knowing when to say please or thank you, for example, is an important skill for preschool children.
Children need to know how to maintain eye contact and engage in conversations politely. This encompasses the skill to be an active listener.
Children’s willingness to share things with others evolves as they grow up.
This study published in Psychological Science demonstrates that children at age two are typically willing to share, but only when they have enough for themselves. At age three, however, they are often selfish. By age seven or eight, children become more concerned with being fair and are more willing to share.
Children have the cognitive ability to help from as early as two, according to this study. They are remarkably cooperative from a very young age. Working as part of a team to achieve a common goal is a valued social skill. A child will need to cooperate with his peers to thrive in the classroom setting.
Following instructions requires active listening. To function effectively across different environments, it is important for a child to understand instructions and to follow them.
Building Your Child’s Social Skills at Home
There’s no denying that a child’s education starts at home. John Ruskin once said, “Education … is painful, continual, and difficult work to be done in kindness, by watching, by warning, by praise, but above all – by example”.
Parents are children’s first teachers. An effective partnership between parents, families, and schools facilitates better learning. So, if you’re stuck at home, how can you help your child maintain and build upon social skills?
Quality time: Spend plenty of quality time interacting with your child. Ask lots of questions. Talk about what you’re doing and what your child is playing. Make time to play together. While playing, find a teachable moment or two to teach them about taking turns.
Read bedtime stories: Discuss the characters and events in the story. Pick a character or two and talk about their activities and feelings. Ask your child questions like what do you think they should do? How do you think they feel? What would you do if you were this character?
Do a job together: Do it with your child instead of asking and letting them do a chore alone. This is also considered part of quality time. Doing this helps boost their self-esteem and improve their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
Virtual playdate: Encourage connection. If your child’s preschool is still practising remote learning, encourage your child to check in with their friends and family via video chat.
Everyday situations: Find teachable moments to talk to your child about feelings and behaviour using everyday situations. You may talk about facial expressions and body language and what emotions and feelings they signify. This will help a child who doesn’t understand societal norms to understand what acceptable behaviour looks like.
Early Discovery Programme at Q-dees offers five areas of learning. Each of these areas of learning carries its own unique set of educational content and learning goals but above all, they seek to help your little ones develop healthy social skills. Our English Play Imagination, for example, allows children to learn the language through play-like activities, such as singing, dancing and acting out the meaning of a word or concept.
Social skills are important. They help children succeed socially, emotionally, personally, and even academically. A growing body of research has pointed to the importance of children’s learning-related social skills for early school success. As mentioned the development of a child takes place at home. Most successful students tell the story of parental involvement and encouragement.
To say positive relationships between parents and children are important for all areas of children’s development is an understatement. The stronger the parent-child relationship, the more confident your child would feel when exploring the world.
Gresham, F. M. (1988). Social Skills. Handbook of Behavior Therapy in Education, 523–546. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-0905-520
Jones, D. (2011). Peer acceptance. Retrieved February 09, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/peer-acceptance
Semrud-Clikeman, M. (2007). Social competence in children. In Social competence in children (pp. 1-9). Springer, Boston, MA.
McClelland, M. M., & Morrison, F. J. (2003). The emergence of learning-related social skills in preschool children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 18(2), 206-224.
Meltzoff, A. N., & Moore, M. K. (1989). Imitation in newborn infants: Exploring the range of gestures imitated and the underlying mechanisms. Developmental psychology, 25(6), 954.
Warneken, F., Lohse, K., Melis, A. P., & Tomasello, M. (2011). Young children share the spoils after collaboration. Psychological science, 22(2), 267-273.
Slocombe, K. E., & Seed, A. M. (2019). Cooperation in children. Current Biology, 29(11), R470-R473.