early social skills

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 and these must be learned.

suppose-meet-dinosaurFor kids, picking up social skills can be a challenge. Besides opportunities to interact with others, stories are another effective way to support learning. In the book, Suppose You Meet A Dinosaur, A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra and Tim Bowers, a child quickly uses some very important words to talk with a somewhat clumsy dinosaur. These are the words that kids need every day, like please, thank you, and excuse me.

While it’s easy to accept why it’s important for kids to be able to communicate with others, it’s harder to understand why social skills are so critical. We tend to think that learning is something that happens to us as individuals but really we learn from and with others. Watching and imitating are two strategies that even infants use to figure out the world. Toddlers will expand this to pretending and if there aren’t any real people to be part of the play, will imagine them.

dinosaurs and social skillsThe most sensitive time for a child to learn basic social skills is during the preschool years. Besides books, parents and caregivers can use dolls, puppets, or dinosaurs. When your child is playing, you might be the voice of a dinosaur and interact with your child. The dinosaur could ask a question, such as “Is it okay if I have a turn, please?” Using a different voice and another dinosaur, you might comment that you noticed the other one asking instead of simply grabbing and using the word please.

The words thank you and being thankful are so important we have a day to celebrate! Are you thankful you won’t meet a dinosaur?

October Alphabet: E is for Emotional and Social Skills

The early years are especially sensitive for learning emotional and social skills and this time of year highlights many of them.

ghost-face-pdpOctober is a unique month in the calendar and in the life of a child. It is the only time  where so many people are all enjoying being scared. With scary faces, costumes, and noises, it’s a great opportunity to talk about emotions, in particular being afraid. Some common fears for kids are the dark, loud noises, being alone, and monsters. You can ask your child what is scary about Halloween and talk about it.

It’s much easier to cope with being afraid of monsters when it’s a friend wearing a monster costume. Check out some costumes in the stores so your child can see it’s just clothes with some scary effects. Look in the mirror with your child and together make some really scary faces. There are other emotions too, like being excited. Kids only have to think about all the treats to make very happy expressions.

Halloween also has a number of social skills. First of all, is the skill of waiting. Despite stores selling many items already, kids still have to wait. One way to help them do this is to get a calendar and mark off the sleeps.

halloween social emotional skillsAnother social skill is how to be friendly. On Halloween night, kids need to know what to do and how to use the words Trick or Treat and thank you. It helps to have a parent standing right close but still takes confidence to go up to a door. Back at home, there’s more waiting and possibly, some sharing too as parents check over and sort the treats. It’s hard not to eat the goodies all at once.

Halloween has so many opportunities for practicing basic social interactions and for exploring feelings. How about naming some like happy or scared, patient or excited, and asking your child to make the faces and show how it feels?

Colors of Childhood: Early Social Skills for Kids

developing identityNot only can colors be fun for math, science, and art but also for learning about relationships. Colors can also help with early social skills for kids.

All humans share some common characteristics and each of us has some unique ones. Learning about personal identity will be something that begins in childhood and continues our whole life. A starting point is often the color of hair, eyes, and skin, making our own personal palette.

developing self-awarenessWhen children play and interact with other children in large groups, a common social teaching is everyone is a little the same, and everyone is a little different and it’s what people are like inside that counts.

In their early drawings, children will often use any color or their favorites, but will gradually choose ones that are more accurate, reflecting their growing self-awareness.

early social skills for kidsIn the book, Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni, a blue spot and a yellow spot are best friends. After a hug, they turn green which confuses the adult-spots, until the kid-spots show how it happened. Then the adults have a similar experience. Although it is a simple story, there is an underlying message that we are affected by our relationships with others, a life lesson in colors and dots.

early social skills for kidsAnother story about people and colors is the book People by Peter Spier. Detailed illustrations show an amazing variety of colors for eyes, hair, skin, clothing, buildings, and more. Filled with hundreds of finely painted images, Peter Spier says, “You have to tell the story in the drawings.” One image shows a world that is mostly the same, with very few differences, and is quite boring. The opposite image vibrates with all the differences of colors, shapes, and sizes. The message in this book is that differences are not just okay, but really rather wonderful.

Can some fun and play with colors, color the day for you and your child?

Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Asking Questions

When it comes to kids and asking questions, parents, caregivers, and teachers are not surprised to know kids ask about 300 of them a day! Challenging as this can be for the adults, it’s tremendously important for kids. In the words of writer Thomas Berger, “The art and science of asking questions is the source … Continue reading Off to School Toolbox: Kids and Asking Questions

School Tool Box: Social Skill of Taking Turns

As we get kids ready to go off to school, we help pack both backpacks and their school tool box. An important tool is the social skill of taking turns. Being able to take turns might seem like something insignificant but it is the basis for all relationships. In any relationship there is give and … Continue reading School Tool Box: Social Skill of Taking Turns

Social and Emotional Skills for Kids: Sharing

The next few posts will discuss some social and emotional skills for kids. Knowing research is finding these contribute to children’s success is exciting. As parents and caregivers, we don’t have to be rocket scientists to raise smart and capable kids. We can relax and play, plus play is how kids learn best. The easiest … Continue reading Social and Emotional Skills for Kids: Sharing

10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #7-Being Kind

We all want our children to be smart and do well at school but, more than that, we want them to be happy and responsible, respectful and kind. Helping children learn and practice kindness can be a new year’s resolution that impacts them for a lifetime. There are different approaches that we can use to … Continue reading 10 New Year’s Resolutions with Young Children #7-Being Kind

Dinovember: Dinosaurs, Manners and Magic Words

Before the approaching holiday season goes from busy to even busier, it’s helpful for kids to practice some basic social skills. Even dinosaurs need to learn manners. Integrating Dinovember and the holiday season is easy to do with the book Suppose You Meet A Dinosaur, A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra and Tim … Continue reading Dinovember: Dinosaurs, Manners and Magic Words