5 Tips for Social (& Academic) Success This School Year

It’s back-to-school time and you probably have your child’s first day outfit and backpack purchased and ready. But, are your children equipped with the vital social and emotional skills to get the year kicked off on the right foot? Social skills have been called the “missing piece” in American education, yet they are necessary for school success. They have been proven to increase academic performance, self-esteem and self-confidence, as well as decrease aggression.

Here are the five most vital back to school tips to help equip your kids with the emotional and social skills for success this school year:

1—We’ve all heard that we have one chance to make a first impression. So prepare your child(ren) for a great first impression with teachers. At home, show your child(ren) how to execute a firm handshake with the right hand (no dead fish), good eye contact, and proper body language.

2—Is the English teacher a Mr. / Ms. / Mrs.? Be sure your child is addressing his/her teachers properly and explain the difference between Mrs. and Ms. (with a zzzzz sound). A teacher should never be addressed by his/her first name or a nickname; it’s always Mr./Ms./ Mrs., unless your child is told otherwise.

3—Lunchroom behavior can leave a lasting impression. No one should talk with their mouth full, chew loudly or dissect food like a science project. Have a fun “school lunch” at home and prepare lunch in brown paper bags for kids. Review the do’s and don’ts at the table.

4—The playground is the perfect place to make friends. Teach your kids to approach their classmates with a friendly, interested smile and how to start a conversation. Before your kids go to school they should have at least three questions prepared to ask classmates. Have fun with the exercise and role play as if you were his/he classmate-ask your child what he/she did over the summer and point out that one word answers don’t make for a great conversation!

5—Kids have heard the word “bullying” countless times and often tune out if it’s brought up. Instead try talking about thoughtfulness and empathy with kids. All children want to have friends and an important part of making friends and keeping friends is being thoughtful and empathetic. Share a few examples of how to be that type of friend and ask kids how they can be thoughtful. At the same time talk about how to handle sticky situations, where people aren’t thoughtful and empathetic. Have a strategy setup for your children on what to do if faced with a difficult encounter.

Image via Woodley Wonder Works on Flickr