By Alka Verma
In a world saturated with technology, it is more vital that educators continue to value human interaction that is most important to students’ development. That is why parenting is so much more than considering the child’s physical needs.
Toddlers learn social skills by interacting with their peers. Parents have the most influence on how a child’s social, communications skills develop. Children observe the adults around them and try to model themselves on what they see.
Playdates and attendance in preschool can surely enhance the child’s life but socialisation, which teaches the child to get along with others, is not the same. There are ‘mom and me’ programmes where you can take the child to meet more peers as well. The idea is that they learn to share, co-operate and have emotional self-control.
Preschool teachers also need to work on the child’s social skills by making it fun through playtime, story- telling, games and activities for early childhood development.
Preschool social skills are dependent on many factors:
1. Working in a group – This can done by preschoolers with play activities by putting them in groups where they play with blocks, as through this teaches them to interact with others, even though it seems like they are playing alongside with one another, but they are surely absorbing many things going around them.
2. To Listen – Children are born with listening skills, but they definitely need to be improved. This can be done by allowing children to participate in discussions with their peers which helps stimulate their listening skills.
3. Care – Learning compassion from an early age helps prepare children for relationships for when they are older. They need to know that laughing at someone when they are hurt is not acceptable.
4. Emotions – Children must learn to express their feelings freely. Once they learn to understand feelings, one can teach them to cope with it. It will help the child verbalise when he is angry. Emotional competence is key to helping the child develop strong social skills.
5. Being a friend – Teaches the child to be affectionate, supportive and interact in a group.
Children are unique and they have their own unique ways of learning. Some ways of nurturing social skills in preschoolers are:
-By being supportive to their emotions especially when they are upset.
-Showing them forgiveness and how to apologise.
– Discuss gratitude.
– Introduce television programmes that promote social skills.
(The author is resident director, Zamit.)
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