A fair amount of a teacher’s day is spent addressing the social skills (or lack thereof) of our students. Many of our students come to us without the necessary skills that enable them to navigate the social landscape that is school. Often, individual student conflicts are due to students’ inability to exhibit appropriate social skills at the appropriate time.

Middle schoolers, especially, are dealing with the bonus of skyrocketing hormones and bodily changes that make them about as awkward as cats on ice. As educators, it is amazing to see the change in the 6th graders we receive in middle school and the 12th graders we graduate from high school.

At Pepin, we believe in addressing the varied needs of our students. That means meeting the academic, independent functioning, communication, health, and, most importantly, their social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

According to the National Association of School Psychologists, students who exhibit appropriate social skills are better able to face future crises and stressful life events, seek appropriate avenues for handling frustration and aggression, and are key in creating a positive and safe school environment. Students exhibiting poor social skills can have trouble in personal relationships and show signs of depression, aggression, and anxiety. Poor academic performance can be an indirect consequence of poor social skills. Our schools use Positive Behavioral Supports and Interventions (PBIS) as a framework for integrating and supporting social skills learning to positive behavioral and academic outcomes for our students.

For some of our students, these skills do not come “naturally,” and must be taught directly. You can help too! The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using the 4 P’s approach to helping your child develop appropriate social skills:

  1. Practice-Practice with your child the appropriate social skill
  2. Praise-Praise your child every time the acquire or exhibit an appropriate social skill
  3. Point Out-Point out to your child when you see others using an appropriate social skill
  4. Prompt– Gently remind your child when would be a good opportunity to use an appropriate social skill.