Teaching Students Social Skills

Students social skills are important for students to learn and use in school and beyond. They help students make friends, talk to others, understand how people feel, and solve problems. This EDU Blog will explain why students social skills matter and how educators can help students learn social skills in the classroom.

What are social skills for students?

Students social skills help them interact well with others. They can use words and gestures to share their thoughts and feelings. They can also pay attention to how others talk and act. Social skills help students understand and care about others and solve problems together. These skills are important for making friends, learning in school, and succeeding in life.

However, some students may have lower social skills than others. They may face social anxiety, shyness, impulsivity, aggression, or other challenges that make it hard to interact appropriately and effectively with others.

These students may need clear and systematic instruction in social skills and chances to practice and apply them in different settings.

Key components of students social skills

Social skills help students get along well with others in different situations. They have different components, such as:

  • Social awareness: This means caring about how others feel, think, need and live. It includes noticing what others say and do, understanding their points of view, being kind and caring, saying thank you, respecting differences, and following social rules and expectations.

  • Relationship skills: These skills help students maintain good relationships with different people and groups. These include talking to others, sharing one’s thoughts and feelings (in a meaningful way), listening and speaking well, building trust and friendship, working together with others (teamwork), solving problems peacefully (negotiation), saying no to peer pressure (assertiveness), and asking for or giving help when needed.

  • Self-management skills: This means managing one’s emotions, thoughts, and actions in different situations. They include naming one’s emotions (self-awareness), showing one’s emotions (self-expression), handling one’s emotions (self-regulation), setting and going after one’s goals (self-motivation), dealing with challenges (resilience), and making good choices (self-control).

Why do students need to learn social skills

Students can benefit from learning social skills in many ways. Some of these benefits are:

  • Better academic performance: Students who have good social skills usually do better in school than students who don’t. They are more likely to join in class discussions, do their homework, and ask for help when they need it. They also tend to get higher grades, test scores, and graduation rates.

  • More well-being: Students with good social skills usually feel better about themselves than students who don’t. They have more self-esteem, self-confidence, and happiness. They also have less stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

  • Fewer behavioral problems: Students who have good social skills usually behave better than students who don’t. They are less likely to be aggressive, bully others, break the law, or use drugs. They also follow rules more often, respect authority more easily, and solve conflicts more peacefully.

  • More prosocial behavior: Students with good social skills usually care more about others than students who don’t. They show more empathy, compassion, and kindness. They also work better with their classmates and educators, contribute more to their communities, and stand up for their values and rights.

Strategies for teaching social skills to students

There are many ways that educators can teach students social skills in their classrooms. Some of the strategies that educators can use will be listed below.

These strategies are based on research and best social-emotional learning (SEL) practices. SEL refers to the process of developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable individuals to:

  • Feel and show care for others

  • Understand and manage their feelings

  • Set and reach positive goals

  • Build and keep good relationships

  • Make responsible decisions

Strategy 1: Assess students social skills needs

To teach students social skills, educators need to know each student’s current abilities and needs. They can find out using different methods, such as watching, asking, rating, or testing.

Educators should look at what they can do well and what they need to improve in different areas of students’ social skills. For example: talking, working together, staying calm, standing up for themselves, being responsible, caring for others, and solving problems.

Educators should also think about situations where students need social skills. Different situations have different rules and expectations. For example, talking in class differs from talking on the playground or in a job interview.

Finally, educators should set specific goals and objectives for each student based on their needs and the situation’s requirements.

Strategy 2: Teach social skills explicitly and systematically

Once the social skills needs and goals are identified, the next step is to teach the social skills explicitly and systematically. Educators need to teach each skill in a clear and systematic way. This involves four steps:

  1. I do (educator models): Explain and show what the skill is and why it is important. Give examples of what to do and what not to do in different situations.

  2. We do (educator guides): Model and demonstrate the skill using role-play or video clips. Let the students observe and ask questions.

  3. You do together (students practice in pairs or groups): Provide feedback and reinforcement for correct performances. Correct their errors or misconceptions.

  4. You do it alone (students practice independently): Let students practice the skill in different contexts and settings. Gradually reduce the educator’s guidance and support until the students can perform the skill independently.

This teaching method is called the gradual release of the responsibility model. It helps the students learn the skill at their own pace and transfer it to real-life situations. The tutor should monitor and support the students throughout the process and adjust the level of scaffolding according to their progress.

Strategy 3: Provide opportunities to practice and generalize social skills

To help students learn social skills, they need to practice them in different settings and situations. The tutor can create structured activities that mimic real-life scenarios where social skills are important, such as role-play games, simulations, debates, or cooperative learning tasks.

Educators should give clear instructions and expectations for each activity, and give feedback and reinforcement for good behavior. They should also support students to use their social skills in natural settings, such as during recess, lunchtime, field trips, or extracurricular activities.

Finally, the tutor should help students adapt their social skills to different contexts, by reminding them of what they have learned, reviewing the steps or rules, and praising them for their efforts.

In general

Students can learn how to get along with others and make friends by practicing social skills. This can help them do well in school and in life. By following the strategies suggested by EDU Passport, educators can help students acquire and improve their social skills and foster a positive and supportive learning environment for everyone.

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