Developing Social Competence in our Students Amanda M. Cowen Highlands Elementary Faculty Meeting February 9, 2011 2:30-3:30
Defining Social Competence What is social competence? Why is it important for teachers to understand?
What are the implications of children not developing social competence? Loneliness later in life Lack of school readiness Behavior issues Attachment problems “Not having a playmate or a friend and being unable to cultivate one leads to feelings of rejection and can damage emotional and social development” (Lawhon & Lawhon, 2000, p. 108) “All children need social and emotional skills so they can be successful in life. Positive early experiences promote optimum brain development, which impacts all areas of development: social, emotional, physical, cognitive, and language.” (Willis & Schiller, 2011, p.42)
Table Discussions Think of a child you work with that you feel has a high level of social competence. What characteristics do you notice? 2. Think of a child you work with that you feel has a low level of social competence. What characteristics do you notice? 3. Put your table thoughts onto the T-chart provided.
Share Your Thoughts “Teachers will need to observe children over a period of time, document their behavior, and watch their interactions with peers” (Bullock, 1993, p. 54) to determine whether they show signs of loneliness, social isolation, or lack of social skills. (Lawhon & Lawhon, 2000, p. 106)
Strategies for Teachers Fostering social skills in the classroom: Confidence Curiosity Self-control Cooperation Communication “Acceptable social skills are related to the development of companionships, friendships, intimate relationships, a healthy lifestyle, happiness, and stability” (Lawhon & Lawhon, 2000, p. 108) (Adapted from Willis & Schiller, 2011)
Model confidence by discussing some of your challenges Encourage students to try new things & acknowledge their successes Read books with themes related to confidence “Self confident children understand that life is full of ups and downs… confident people have a deep, realistic faith in their capabilities that is not deterred by setbacks.” (Willis & Schiller, 2011, p.43) Confidence Curiosity Ask questions such as “I wonder what would happen if we…?” or “How can we…?” (Adapted from Willis & Schiller, 2011)
Self-control Cooperation “When children learn self-control they make better choices and they are more likely to respond appropriately during stressful situations” (NAEYC, 2011, p. 44). Model self-control by staying calm and describing what you do when you stay under control Share your emotions with your students Discuss ways to handle strong emotions Use photographs to jumpstart a discussion on how people can work together With students, brainstorm a list of ways cooperation can help your classroom (Adapted from Willis & Schiller, 2011)
Communication Use complete sentences and expect the child to do the same Be fully present in conversations! Use vocabulary that expresses compassion and empathy Make the environment conducive to communication by giving children lots of opportunities to solve problems together, and experience new things “Children who express themselves are likely to feel a sense of self-worth and build social and emotional skills… Effective communication builds relationships” (Willis & Schiller, 2011, p. 46). (Adapted from Willis & Schiller, 2011)
References Lawhon, T., & Lawhon, D.C. (2000). Promoting social skills in young children. Early Childhood Education Journal, 28(2), 105-110. Willis, C.A., & Schiller, P. (2011, January). Preschoolers' social skills steer life success. Young Children, 42-49.