7 Essential Social Skills (for Preschoolers) March 01 2013
There’s a lot of talk about academic readiness skills for children who are entering kindergarten, but being ready for school isn’t just about mastering academic skills. Whether your child attends preschool or you find other socialization opportunities for him, by the time kindergarten rolls around he should be able to sail the “seven C’s” of preschool social skills.
Preschoolers typically like to talk, but not always to each other. That was the case for mom Cathy L., who noticed the other kids in her son’s preschool class had conversations with each other while her son spoke mainly to her.
At 3 and 4 years old, children should be practicing the skills of conversation: talking in turn, staying on topic, and even reading other people’s emotions and facial expressions. If your child is shy, he may require some extra time to gain this skill. That’s okay. As Circle of Moms member MaryEllen C. says: “Provide opportunities for making friends and joining in, but let the child decide when they are ready.”
Keep reading to learn all seven.
Cooperation involves a lot more than just sharing, which is good because even by the end of preschool, children are still sharing more grudgingly than gracefully. Cooperation is also the ability to get along with others.
At age 3 this is tough, as mom Emily P. discovered when her good-natured son went through a phase of hitting, kicking and grabbing. By age 4, it’s a little easier. Since the ability to cooperate with others improves both with age and practice, making sure your child has opportunities to play with groups of peers is key in helping to build cooperative skills.
3. Conflict Resolution
A preschooler’s mind is not entirely logical, and at this stage, kids are not typically great at solving problems. Some Circle of Moms members say their preschoolers resort to hitting to get what they want. While disturbing, it’s a pretty common behavior borne of frustration.
As mom and preschool worker Michelle B. explains, kids use hitting to express what they can’t say. Once they have learned to “use their words” to express their frustration, the hitting typically stops.
By age 5, and with practice, your child will probably be able to sit down with a peer and have a rudimentary conversation about their issue. Don’t expect them to be able to come up with a fair compromise, though. That’s a much more advanced social skill, one that even some adults have trouble with!
One of the most noticeable social skills your child will gain during the preschool years is the ability to communicate more clearly. Brandy B. is one of the many moms who remark on how much their children’s speech has improved after starting preschool. “[My son’s]vocabulary has expanded greatly and speech clarity has improved immensely.”
That’s a great start, but there’s more to this skill than just speaking clearly. Communicating well also includes the ability to express feelings, needs, wants, and knowledge to new people.
Most preschoolers are all about being independent and trying to do things themselves. While sometimes that push for independence is too strong, more often it’s a way to build self-esteem and confidence.
While you may be tempted to do things for her or to correct little mistakes, it’s important for your child to take the initiative. Feeling good about her abilities and herself is a social skill that will serve your child well for life.
Learning self-control is an ongoing skill, but it begins when your child is of preschool age. That’s good news if you’re mom to one of the many 3-year-olds who have a penchant for biting.
There’s truth in the words of mom Marilyn C. who says, “Biting is something they usually grow out of.” As your child’s ability to understand cause and effect becomes more fine-tuned and his ability to control his emotions increases, his need to bite usually decreases.
Though the Man in the Yellow Hat may disagree, curiosity is a skill to celebrate. It’s what allows your child to explore the world, ask questions and draw conclusions. Encouraging this skill by planning activities that engage your child’s curiosity will give him a leg up when it comes to formal learning.