I should tell you upfront that this is Cyndi writing today, because it’s confession time.
I often interrupt others’ conversations. I forget to use my turn signal while driving. I talk too loudly, especially when I get excited or feel the need to have my opinion heard. I sometimes hide my favorite things so others won’t use them (read, I don’t share well sometimes.)
Social skills: the things we learn as children. They are important and they are skills we use every day for the rest of our lives!
The other day I was wondering if a woman at Office Depot was absent the day(s) they worked on waiting your turn in preschool. I was waiting for a few minutes at the counter to talk to the worker. He had acknowledged me and said he’d be with me in just a minute. A woman then walked around me, approached the counter, got the man’s attention and began asking for what she needed. Hmmmm.
I got to thinking about several incidents I experienced lately in which people were not doing a good job using social skills we learn about every day at school.
Lining up: The traffic was merging into a single lane and a few cars went right around the place were the cars were merging driving much farther ahead and cutting into the line. Hmmm. We just talked with our Blue class friends about going to the end of the line rather than pushing your way into the front of the line.
Waiting your turn: You’ve already read about this situation. We help children understand this every day in circle time as they want to share their ideas or with a toy that they are wanting to use.
Standing up for yourself and asking for what you need: Recently a friend was being a little manipulative and somewhat hurtful with things she was saying. I felt like she was being a little passive aggressive instead of just saying what she needed. At preschool we often have this conversation: “Teacher, he took my block.” “Did you like that?” “No” “Then say, I was using that. Please don’t take my block. I don’t like that. Can I have my block back please.” It is amazing how often this communication moves unhappy children to more cooperative play.
Dealing with frustration (or any upsetting emotion): I am sure this will come to no surprise to the preschool staff but I have little to no patience for technology when it doesn’t work as it should. I often growl and complain. Hmmmm. I sometimes remember to Stop, Take a deep Breath And Relax. We teach this as a self calming strategy and guess what, it works. (When I remember to use it.)
Taking responsibility for your own actions: I recently had a family member forget to give me something that I needed by a certain time. This inconvenienced me and the project was a little scrambled due to the delay. She acted as though she wasn’t clearly informed of what we needed. Wow. This surely isn’t something we teach at preschool, is it? Yes, we do. If a child hits or pushes another child, for whatever reason, we will have the hurt child explain his feelings (standing up for himself) about the incident. The teacher may prompt this child that hit with, “Pushing hurts.” “What can you do to help him feel better? You can apologize, tell him you will try to not push him in the future or give a hug or a soft pat on the back to show him you care. Next time you can ask for what you need. You can say, ‘I want that toy.'” (Notice I did not say we would tell him to say “Sorry.” It is my personal belief that by giving options you encourage the child to stop and do some reflection about what he did. This way if he chooses to apologize I hope it is sincere.)
I could go on and on with examples of social situations that happen at preschool AND that translate into adult social situations. We use our social skills EVERYDAY! I believe this is some of the most important learning that happens in preschool.