Skills for Life

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In a world where huge advances in technology occur daily, it is a challenge for educators to predict and subsequently plan curriculum around the types of jobs our children will be doing in another 20 years. What we do know is that our children will need to be able to develop strong and stable relationships with others, regulate themselves emotionally and possess qualities such as resilience, perseverance and integrity. Inter-personal and emotional skills building is so important, and research shows that it must be explicitly taught. There are many ways we integrate social and emotional skills building in Room 15 and 16 such as modelling by the teachers, discovery, storytime and playing games. 

Mrs Griffin, Mrs Wilson and Mrs Young are always modelling important social skills such as listening actively when someone is talking, using manners, using appropriate language and tone of voice, and conflict resolution. At times we may exaggerate our behaviour or overtly draw attention to it if we find a ‘teachable moment’. Often, we will assume the role of mediator to support children in settling disputes and resolving conflict. By doing this, we provide the children with a script they can use themselves to either solve their own problems or to help others in need. 

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Mrs Wilson and Sabian.

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Mrs Griffin models active listening and turn-taking with a group of boys. 

Another way of teaching social skills and emotional resilience in the classroom is through discovery time. Discovery can look a bit like unplanned and chaotic play. Teachers however put a lot of thought into the activities included in each discovery session and will set up games or materials depending on the needs of the students at any given time. The interpersonal skills learning that occurs during discovery is difficult to induce during more traditional lesson types. Skills such as turn taking, negotiation of roles, clear communication, conflict resolution, active listening and sharing are the foundations of discovery time. In addition, emotional regulation skills such as dealing with disappointment, communicating emotions appropriately, boundary setting, handling big emotions, recognising the emotions of others and anger management are just a few of the skills that can be learned and practiced in a safe and supportive environment.

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Frankie and Thea work together to make a bracelet

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Max and Kase negotiate roles while playing with the cars

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George and Tane collaborate to complete a puzzle

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Max and Benjamin work together to put together a train track

Reading to and with children is obviously important for their literacy, but it can also be used as a vehicle to teach social and emotional skills. There are countless children’s books that address social skills and emotional literacy. Here are a few of my favourites:

‘Everybody Feels…’ is a series by Moira Butterfield and Holly Sterling targeting the four feeling domains of anger, sadness, fear and joy.

‘In my Heart’ by Jo Witek is delightful book with beautiful illustrations that talks about some of the emotions the main character experiences ‘in her heart’. 

‘Thelma the Unicorn’ by Aaron Blabey is a gorgeous story about a pony that desperately wants to be a unicorn. It is a lovely way to convey the message that we are all perfect just the way we are. The potential for lessons around self-efficacy, confidence, resilience and positive thinking is endless. 

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Playing games is a fantastic way to promote social skills such as turn taking, fair play, good sportsmanship and supporting others. An organised game such as ‘five and you’re out’ or ‘duck, duck, goose’ provides opportunities for teachers to support children in developing these skills. Similarly, emotional resilience and regulation can be modelled and practised during organised games. Intense emotions can arrive for children during games, and this provides opportunities to teach strategies for calming excitement or anger and dealing with disappointment appropriately.

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Go Logan!

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Bayley runs to Thor.

All of the strategies outlined are easily duplicated at home. There are teaching opportunities everywhere! What can you teach your children about social skills and emotional literacy? 

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 Keywords: Wellbeing, Health, Hauora, Social and emotional skills building, 

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