Life in Kindergarten — Social Skills

The series of posts I’m doing on this subject matter are expanded from an article I found called 10 Kindergarten Readiness Skills Your Child Needs from 2013. Despite the article being older, the areas it covers are still basic areas of study and behavior that should be paid attention to.

As important as the academic skills needed for school settings is the social skills that kids need to be familiar with to integrate into a classroom setting smoothly.

My Credentials (reprinted from my original post):

Let me state up front that I am not a kindergarten teacher nor any other grade teacher.  I have a BA in English from Sonoma State University in California and started my teaching credential years ago before my career path took me away from school and into the working world.

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My expertise on the subject of kindergarten (and the other lower grades) comes from over four years of volunteering in a kindergarten class at my kids school.  I also have seen the end result of kindergarten by volunteering in a first grade class for almost three years before COVID shut down in person schooling in our area.

I wasn’t the typical volunteer.  As soon as my children started school, I was in the classroom five days a week splitting between kindergarten and the upper grades as needed.  I’ve been put in charge of tech education for kindergarten and have run multi levels of reading groups in first grade.  I also worked on reading fluency with emerging readers and became known as the parent to rely on when given an educational task to accomplish in the classroom.

The two teachers I worked with most were seasoned professionals.  My mentors were wonderful women who made teaching their life.

  • The kindergarten teacher was one of the original teachers at our school which was founded in 1995.  She transferred over from another school and while kindergarten is her niche, she also had taught grades higher up into elementary school.
  • The first grade teacher I worked with had been teaching longer than I’ve been alive.  She knew what kids needed to have in first grade and was great at evaluating how successful a kindergarten year was for a kid within the first few weeks of school in her class.

I might not be considered an expert because I don’t have a degree.  I do believe my time in the classroom as well as being a mother myself helps me give a balanced view of things that will help your child succeed in kindergarten.

Area 10: Social Skills

What are social skills?


According to the APA Dictionary of Psychology, social skills are a set of learned abilities that enable an individual to interact competently and appropriately in a given social context. The most commonly identified social skills in Western cultures include assertiveness, coping, communication and friendship-making skills, interpersonal problem solving, and the ability to regulate one’s cognitions, feelings, and behavior. 

Skills to practice

Since there are a lot of areas one could cover that have to do with social skills, I turned to a post on CounselorKeri.com to focus my efforts. Counselor Keri is a mental health counselor turned school counselor suggests these areas to focus on:

  • Sharing

  • Taking Turns

    While sharing is important it’s often the skill of taking turns that becomes more important in a classroom setting. The real skill here being learned is the idea of patience.

    Children who master this skill show it off most frequently when they:

    • raise a hand in class instead of shouting out
    • wait to speak to the teacher when she or he is helping another student

    It’s not completely guaranteed that kids with siblings will be more advanced at this skill than only children.

    Personality type are different and some kids master this skill earlier than others. The kids that I came across who were super articulate had a very hard time working on these types of thing. They wanted to express their excitement for things often and it was hard to realize they aren’t the only person who has something to say. On the opposite side there are the kids who are too shy and never speak up and have to be compelled to answer. Every kid is different.

    There is something to be said for little ones who mingle in groups of kids close to their age on a regular basis. Their practice at this skill is sometimes more advanced than others.

  • Accepting the answer no

    Classroom management for a teacher sometimes order is only maintained by telling children no. Classroom rules and schedules can eliminate some of these issues, but from time to time there will be moments your child will hear a firm no to whatever their want or need might be.

    Work with your child on the idea that they need to learn to accept being told no without becoming upset or angry. It’s ok for them to be upset about getting a no answer, but their behavior in the classroom needs to follow classroom rules.

    From my experience most teachers try to explain their reasoning by referring the kids to the schedule of the day or the classroom rules, but if a teacher explained every no to every kid they could spend weeks just explaining things instead of actually learning.

  • Listening & Following Directions

    The ability to follow instructions is an important everyday life skill. Turning this skill from an at home ability to a classroom ability might take a little bit of adjusting to, but by teaching your child to listen and follow directions it will set them up for success in an academic setting.

  • Following Rules

    In the kindergarten classrooms I’ve been in there have been usually a simple list of five or less classroom rules as far as behavior goes. Common rules might include:

    • Looking eyes
    • Helping hands
    • Listening ears
    • Quiet mouths
    • Walking feet

    While the walking feet might seem like a given there was a child who was running in a classroom that I volunteered in and hit his head and ended up at the doctors. It turned out to be a more serious thing due to an underlying condition, but any kind of injury that can be prevented with a “no running” rule is usually put into place in classrooms.

    Other issues that might arise would have to do with being the line leader or being excused from classroom activities to use the restroom. Each teacher has their own way of handling these things, but by having them in the classroom and reminding the kids of the rules most situations can be handled without much distraction to the rest of the class.

  • Stating Needs

    Have you ever told a little one to “use their words”? I have often asked a little one who seems frustrated or upset to tell me what they want or need. Using my years of observing in classrooms and my own mothering experiences most bad behavior seems to stem from the fact that a child is not able to express their wants and needs.

    Maturing emotionally through the toddler years and into elementary school ages does take a little guidance, but by encouraging each child to tell the teacher and other students their wants and needs instead of using physical means to get their way is extremely important to building a peaceful classroom setting.

    Physical altercations even in kindergarten are taken seriously. Mind you there might be the exception to the rule at times (a bite or hit from one child to another) it’s the teacher’s and school administration’s aim, of course, to have a classroom environment where your child only has to be concerned with learning instead of strained interactions with the other children.

    I’ve seen more than one classroom where this wasn’t the case and believe me a disruptive frustrated child can ruin the mood in a classroom by just walking through the door.

    Even if the outcome of “use your words” is more of a discussion than an actual statement, by prompting the child to express themselves a solution can be worked on with everyone else in the classroom.

  • Transitioning Activities

  • Being Flexible


RESOURCES:

Find more great kindergarten educational videos on my YouTube playlist: Kindergarten Skills Videos

I hope you learned a lot from this article and don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series:

Published by Patty Gordon

I’m Patty Gordon, a 40+ year old school lunch lady married to a crane mechanic. Our days are anything but normal as he works “construction worker hours” and I take care of our two elementary school aged kids, Chihuahua Mr Biggs, Pitbull Cali, and French Bulldog MooMoo. I blogged a few years ago under different names but have landed with the 365MomMe.com name this time around. The term 365MomMe comes from the idea that I’m a mom and I’m me 365 days a year. Kids call me Mommy but I see myself as MomMe.

One thought on “Life in Kindergarten — Social Skills

  1. Social Skills are so important for Kindergarten. I worry that many kindergartners will enter school without these skills because so many of them missed out on preschool due to parents’ concerns about health safety. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

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