HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 9, 2006, Herald Journal

Social readiness

By JENNI SEBORA

Being able to get along with other children, following directions, taking turns, and sharing are social skills that we want our children to possess, and are equally as important as academic readiness skills.

Of course, there are also things we can do to help our children be socially ready for school. As parents, we want our children to have friends, and others will enjoy our children’s company if they can get along well with others. Social skills are skills that need to be modeled and taught as well and improve and increase as our children mature. Don’t expect perfection immediately.

Letting our children know that they have done a good job when they have shared well, been polite, or taken their turn appropriately is very important too. We need to highlight when they are engaging in positive behavior.

• Have regular routines for bedtime and mealtime.

• Set rules and give consequences for breaking them.

• Encourage your child to play with and talk to other children. Allow your children to have playmates over.

• Encourage your child to take turns and share with other children. These are all skills that take practicing. Also allow your children opportunities to care, share and help. e.g. for a new neighbor, grandparent, etc.

• Encourage your child to finish difficult tasks once they have begun them.

• Help and encourage your child to consider the feelings of others. This is also a skill that takes time to develop. Help your child find ways to solve conflict with others. Help him/her figure out positive ways to settle conflicts. Sometimes listening to your child is all it will take to help them solve their own problems and conflicts.

• Model and discuss positive ways for your child to express his or her feelings.

• Discourage hitting, biting, screaming and other negative behaviors.

• Kiss and hug your child several times a day. Children need hugs, kisses, an arm over the shoulder, a pat on the back. We all do.

• Tell your child that you love her or him.

• Set a good example. Show your child what it means to get along with others and be respectful. Say “please” and “thank you” to your child. Treat people in ways that show you care what happens to them. Ask for things in a friendly way. Be kind and patient with others.

Many of these tips are from www.nea.org/parents.

Dinosaur digs and treasure

With the weather getting cooler yet still enjoyable, it’s a great time to continue to engage in wonderful outdoor play activities with your children. It seems, children are fascinated with dinosaurs and love treasure hunts, so why not connect the two. Using Popsicle or craft sticks as dinosaur bones, you can hide the “bones.” Preferably outside in the soil or sand, with a little of the “bone” above surface. Using an archeology tool, such as a spoon, your children can be archaeologists and dig for the “bones.”

Once the dig is done, have your archaeologist construct a dinosaur skeleton out of the sticks using glue. I have done this activity with children, and they love it.

Any type of treasure hunt is a popular activity with children, whether it’s finding plastic eggs or plastic Halloween spiders, or finding treasurers hidden in the snow.

From: “365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Children” by Steve and Ruth Bennett

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

– Mother Teresa