Children all over the world are born without social skills, it is not something they will grow and just adapt into. They learn from the environment where they are nurtured with either good or bad behaviours.
Social skills play a vital role in a child’s emotional health and well-being. They are linked to the quality of the school environment and safety.
Social skills learning improves students’ positive behaviour and reduces negative behaviour.
Hence, according to Elizabeth Ohaka, an early childhood educationist, “They have to be deliberately taught, of course children learn by observation, association and interaction. And all of these are ways of inculcating social skills.”
However, it is rather ironic that in Nigeria, parents are often seen yelling at their children to retaliate whenever their peers hit them or exhibit any anti –social behaviour towards them.
This an eye -for -an eye philosophy tend to infuse in children rather a hostile attitude and extinguishes the ember of growing together in love.
The home is no doubt the primary socialisation institution for every child. This is because children observe the display of social skills by their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and other adults within their ecosystem.
“Children learn by repetition, and for them to learn social skills, you need to keep repeating to them how to greet, how to use your magic words such as thank you, you’re welcome, and pardon me, among others. They need to be taught all over again to help inculcate these social skills.
Adults should be ready to keep repeating these words, and not be tired until they grab it. It takes a lot of time before a child can learn one social skill,” Ohaka said.
Social skills can be taught as a lesson, subjects like social studies, health education and/or through extra-curricular activities. When schools have sporting activities, it is an opportunity for children to learn social skills.
That is why it is not only in classrooms that children should learn social skills. They learn both in the classrooms and outside classrooms. When they have career day, colour day and cultural day, among others are avenues for children to learn social skills.
Social skills enable children to measure up with their equals on the high level, and gives them confidence to face challenges in life. Besides, social skills help build a child’s self- discipline.
Social skill with the fear of God produces children with high moral standards and excellence.
Hence, giving children appropriate social development can be equated to laying an endurable foundation of personal and social success for such a child.
From childhood to adulthood social skills are an essential part of man’s daily life that significantly affects almost every aspect of his life.
Social skills are the skills required to interact with other people for almost anything and everything, such as getting needs met, playing, learning, collaborating, and working together.
Consequently, teachers, especially at the basic school levels, need to take the time and effort to teach appropriate social skills to students to help them understand and manage themselves during class and to be able to optimise their learning too.
According to Pooja Harlalka, head of counselling, network head of SEL & Counselling, The Acres Foundation, here are some of the methods inculcate social skills on students:
Set clear expectations of how they should behave in class that will help them to be respectful towards themselves and each other and be responsible for the role they play in creating a harmonious learning environment that is safe and comfortable.
This can be done by creating a class contract and class agreement, with a set of norms that everyone in the class sets together, knows and can follow.
Modelling is a powerful way students learn from their teachers. Students of all ages observe their teachers and often tend to learn from watching and listening to them.
Therefore, how a teacher interacts with students and peers is a way to teach students to do the same too.
Explicitly teach students the skills of how to interact with each other in appropriate and healthy ways.
Some of these skills include the theoretical concepts and skills for important topics such as;
Teaching about emotions, how to identify them in one’s self, and accepting all feelings. Inculcate in them how to manage reactions to their emotions and feelings, especially when it does not favour them.
Besides, teaching them how to build and maintain friendships, collaboration and working together in teams. It is ideal to teach a child how to embrace respectful communication which includes disagreement, receiving and providing feedback, and conflict resolution.