As the school year draws near its end, there is still plenty of time to teach your students new social skills. Perhaps you have already focused on skills that have helped your students be successful in your class. Now is the time to help them better transition to what lies ahead.
There are several major transitions students will experience throughout their years in school. Each one requires more advanced skills in order to be successful with a new set of peers or in a new school environment. Here are some social skills you may want to consider teaching if your students will be making one of these significant transitions.
Kindergarten to First Grade
Though kindergarteners participate in center activities throughout the day, a number of children still may be engaging in more parallel play than cooperative play. Starting in first grade, students may be expected to work more collaboratively with others.
While you may have already taught your students procedures to follow during center time, you can now teach students how to work with others to complete a common task. You can teach your students that when working with others they need to:
Follow up your initial lesson by providing students with plenty of opportunities for practice by working on simple projects or completing activities together. Remember, students at this age need lots of guidance. Simply explaining to them what to do may not be as powerful or successful as coaching them through each step with hands-on activities.
Elementary School to Middle School As students move from a one class/one teacher environment to a multiple class/multiple teacher environment, students may find it to be a little scary to ask for help in new situations or with new peers and school staff.
Do you remember how you felt when dealing with the daunting task of stopping at your locker and getting to your next class within a few minutes and how stressful it was when you couldn’t get the lock open? Do you remember sitting in a class while a teacher assigned a task assuming everyone knew what to do, but you didn’t?
There may be several things your students are apprehensive about when moving on to middle school. Taking the time to talk with them about their worries and the what ifs is helpful. And, while you can’t always anticipate every struggle, you can be proactive by teaching or re-teaching the skill Asking for Help.
To teach students it is okay to ask for help have students write down a question/concern they have on an index card and place it in a box or basket. During extra class time, you can draw out a card and help students problem solve by discussing who to ask for help and how it could sound. Start with a quick review of the steps and why the skill is important. Then, have students practice asking for help with a partner.
Be sure to preview the cards as some questions may be more personal in nature. You don’t want to ignore those concerns. However, in some cases, a private one-on-one conversation may be more appropriate.
Middle School to High School
During high school is when we hope that our children refine the ability to confidently advocate for themselves. When a student disagrees appropriately, others might be more likely to listen to her views and to work things out agreeably should there be a conflict.
Think of the times when a teenager encounters a situation in which he would likely disagree. Those situations could include when working on a group project, when receiving a lower than anticipated grade or even when refused admittance to a club or organization. Introduce the skill to students with this video and lesson plan.
High School to College
Even in the last few weeks or days of high school, we can still find opportunities to teach and practice social and emotional skills with our students. Think of all the challenges young adults will face when entering college or the workforce. Now is the time to help students take the skills they have learned and teach them how to adapt those skills to a college or workplace environment. Being able to both generalize and code switch while using social skills increases the likelihood graduates will be successful as they move into the adult world.
Code switching is the ability to adapt social skills to best reflect the different circumstances and relationships encountered. Our kids need to know that Making an Apology is always important but may look different when expressing regret to a roommate versus a boss. Use this lesson plan to help students understand how to adapt their social skills to various situations.
Every School Year
While preparing students for major transitions is important, there is no need to wait for those opportunities to help your students get a head start when moving on. Keep in mind that transitioning to the next school year is important at all ages. Think of how successful your students have been with the social skills you’ve emphasized this year. Re-teach skills students continue to struggle with. Teach advanced skills that build on the strengths they have. Doing so you will not only help your students be more prepared for the next level and a lifetime of success.