Teaching Social Skills: Seven Points to Consider
If you ask any parent why preschool is important, you’ll almost certainly hear “socialization” named as one of the top priorities—and with good reason. Social skills development is critical for children, especially during the first six years of life. However, simply “being around” other youngsters is insufficient. Fundamental social skills, such as basic manners, etiquette, problem solving, emotional control, and patience, must be taught with the same intentionality as reading and math. As a result, “grace and courtesy” lessons are an important aspect of the Montessori curriculum.
“…we must begin our work by preparing the youngster for social forms and attracting his attention to these forms.” The Montessori Method, by Dr. Maria Montessori
“Grace and courtesy” refers to a set of lessons aimed to teach children how to treat one another and adults with respect. It’s much more than just saying “please” and “thank you” (important though that is). It’s all about equipping kids with the skills they’ll need to interact with others with kindness and confidence in developing their social skills. Some instances are as follows:
- Handshaking (if customary)
- “Good morning,” for example, is a good way to start the day.
- Make direct eye contact.
- ageofmontessori.org table manners—social skills
- Chew with your mouth shut.
- Instead of reaching across the table, respectfully request goods to be passed.
- When something is presented, say “yes, please” or “no, thank you.”
- Utensils: How to Use Them
- Make use of napkins.
- Giving suitable compliments is a social skill.
- Accept compliments with grace.
- Acknowledge one’s mistakes by apologizing.
- Sincere apologies are required.
- When possible, make amends.
- Make eye contact/approach
- If the person is talking to someone or otherwise occupied, be patient.
- Please don’t interrupt.
- Please and thank you should be used.
- Use words instead of actions to express emotions.
- Determine the emotion.
- Develop a language for expressing emotions.
- Take turns speaking and raise your hand when it’s appropriate.
- Respecting personal space and listening when others speak
- Sharing \Self-control
- Make use of an “interior” tone of speech.
Children learn how to be courteous, polite, and respectful according to their local culture in Montessori schools. Parents can instill social skills in their children by modeling gracious behavior and guiding them through the practices of grace and courtesy at home.
“What is social life if not the resolution of social problems, proper behavior, and the pursuit of goals that are acceptable to all?” “Sitting next to someone and listening to them discuss…” The Absorbent Mind, by Dr. Maria Montessori