early social skills

How to Steal a March #5: Kids Social Skills Give An Advantage Over Academics

Whenever we think of success at school, we assume that academics is most important, but did you know kids social skills give an advantage over academics? Research is showing us that kids who cope with the social challenges of school are the ones who experience success.

friendship skills for kids

When we think about social skills vs academics it’s maybe not so surprising. Kids need the confidence to ask questions and seek help, the skills to work with others and share talents, the resilience to bounce back after failures, and the perseverance to keep going. We can start the for all of these long before kids get to school.

Young children do not come with social skills in their brain backpacks. Helping them learn positive ways to interact with others is a huge challenge for parents, teachers, and caregivers. Three basic skills for kids are learning to share, to take turns, and to wait. These are easier for some than for others so we may need to try different ways to support them.taking turns social skill

When it comes to sharing, it’s so funny to see toddlers offer us a bite of something only to take it back. They have only figured out part of the process as they build on our example. Acknowledging a child’s effort is also important. “I see you are sharing,” is a simple comment that echoes deep. Books and stories are a valuable resource. The brain is hard-wired for stories and seems to absorb the message. We need to remember to give kids the words to use and this is one way. When kids play with others, there are many opportunities to share and to learn to ask others to share with them.

Taking turns is a critical part of building relationships. Many games and activities give kids practice at taking turns. We also need to provide the words and example for asking others to give us a turn. “Please wait, I’m not done my turn.” can help kids as they interact with playmates.social skills for kindergarten

Learning to wait is more than being patient. It involves attention and focus, and being able to keep going while waiting for the payoff or reward. Having a few strategies is really helpful. When we are waiting in line at the bank, for example, we can sing songs together or tell stories. The game I Spy is great for filling minutes when waiting. You might want to choose a color and think of as many items of that color as possible. Decide on a shape and count the number of things of that shape.

To “steal a march on someone” is to have an advantage over them and kids social skills give an advantage over academics. Will your child’s day have some social fun and play?

#2. Friendship Skills: Helping Kids Learn Sharing Skills

January is resolution month, February is Friendship. Friends share, and helping kids learn sharing skills is an important part of making and having friends.

friendship skills for kids

We all recognize how sharing is a critical piece of relationships but it’s not easy to see how complicated it can be. When babies and young toddlers first start sharing, they get the first action of offering a toy or a bite of a cookie to us, but not the next. They hold on to the item and quickly take it back. Sharing is not only giving, it’s also letting go. Not only is their more than one aspect to the action, the letting go part is really hard to do.

Our example is one of the behaviors kids will imitate in learning to share. Children need a model to follow. We can talk about what we are thinking and say we are really enjoying a cookie and you know someone else might like a piece too. It helps kids to hear how we decide to share or not.

building with blocks

Not sharing needs different strategies. Kids need words, such as, “I’m still using this. You can use it when I’m done.” They also may want to ask someone to share with them. “I’d like to play. We can share. You have some and I’ll have some,” are good words to know. This can be as simple as 4 words, “Play too. Share please,” for young toddlers.

When kids are sharing, a positive comment or two reinforces their choice. You might say, “You are sharing with your friend. Your friend appreciates that.” This acknowledges the action.learning to share

Books and stories are another great resource. One Little Sister loves is Mo Willems story, Should I Share My Ice Cream? Elephant has an ice cream and debates whether or not to share with his friend Piggie. The problem has an unexpected solution. There are many other great books about sharing. You can also make up a story of your own. Maybe a fork and spoon have to share dessert. How might they work it out?

Early childhood is all about learning and play. Kids need opportunities to learn and develop the skills they need for interacting with others. These happen in play and real-life experiences. What do you do for helping kids learn sharing skills?


#1. How Can We Help Kids Learn Friendship Skills? – Taking Turns

January is resolution month; February is friendship. How can we help kids learn friendship skills? What are some basic and important ones? Taking turns is one of the earliest.

fire truck - taking turns

We all know the importance of social skills for success at school and beyond. Some of them are so common that we do not think how critical they really are. On any day, as adults, we take turns constantly. Every time we have a conversation with someone we are taking turns. Every relationship is based on give and take.

From early on, we help babies learn about taking turns. We talk to the baby and wait for any sound as a reply. Rolling a ball back and forth is another way to support learning about taking turns. As children grow, there are more opportunities and experiences.

play and group skills for kids

Besides letting others have a turn, kids also need to learn how to make sure they get a turn. Although most kids have the words, “I want a turn,” pretty clearly, it helps to add a few. “I want a turn. Tell me when you are done,” is often more effective. The other person is less likely to say no and feels recognized. We can model this for our kids by using the words when appropriate and coaching them to say the words when playing with others.

If you are using something and your child wants it, you can also say, “I’m not finished my turn. Please wait.” Kids are usually fine with this. They have been able to communicate their message and know they have been heard. Of course, there may be some negotiation afterwards if kids think someone is taking too long.

learning to take turns

Reading books and telling stories is another way to help kids learn friendship skills. There are lots of games for practicing taking turns, such as Hopscotch, Throw and Catch, Hide and Seek, card games, board games, and more. Would you like a turn?


S= Social Skills: Developing Social Skills A Priority for Kids

Do your long-term wishes for kids include being happy and having friends? From an early age, we need to make developing social skills a priority for kids. More and more we are finding out the huge impact that social skills are having on children. So much so, that children’s social skills will even influence their … Continue reading S= Social Skills: Developing Social Skills A Priority for Kids

Why Dragons and Kids Need Social Skills

While fire power is effective, dragons and kids need social skills. Did you know social skills will influence your child in school and beyond? Dragons pretty well do what they want, whenever they want. It’s easy to understand why they have a lot of enemies and why they don’t have many friends. Their behavior means … Continue reading Why Dragons and Kids Need Social Skills

Before I Go to Kindergarten #9: Play and Group Skills for Kids

Before going to kindergarten, preschool, daycare, or any other play programs, some play and group skills for kids will make their life a lot more fun. We might think that kids come already knowing how to play. To some extent this is certainly true. Even animals like to play and have fun. There are wonderful … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #9: Play and Group Skills for Kids

Before I Go to Kindergarten #7: Sharing and Taking Turns for Kids

Is your child going to kindergarten, playschool, daycare, or preschool? Sharing and taking turns for kids are two early and important social skills. We can support kids as they develop and practice these. The early years, that is before the age of 5, are the most sensitive time for learning social skills. We might think … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #7: Sharing and Taking Turns for Kids

Ways Kids Can Say Thank You After Christmas

Saying thank you is a social skill and here are a handful of ways kids can say thank you after Christmas. More and more researchers are discovering the impact of social skills on children’s results in school. The effect of intelligence and other smarts is understandable but social skills? How can these make such a … Continue reading Ways Kids Can Say Thank You After Christmas

Basic Social Skills and Dinosaurs

The upcoming holiday season will likely have more social interactions. Helping kids with basic social skills will make these easier. Dinosaurs to the rescue. Well, a little bit. Although the t-rex was better left all alone, scientists think that some dinosaurs banded together in groups or herds. Any group behavior comes with expectations and conditions … Continue reading Basic Social Skills and Dinosaurs