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In case you haven’t heard, summer learning is critical for maintaining student success and bridging the achievement gap, and luckily there are many opportunities in Harris County that can help. Academic skills, however, aren’t all that kids lose when they’re away from the classroom. A lack of time spent with classmates during the summer can also cause social skills to become rusty.
Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s possible for kids to practice social intelligence in all situations whether they are on the playground or at home with the family. With the encouragement of parents and out-of-school time providers, youth can easily work and play with others in ways that keep them on track for social and emotional development. Consider incorporating these “three P’s” into your summer learning plans.
1. People matter
Teach children to have consideration by asking them how others might feel when certain things happen. Empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – can be a difficult concept even for adults, but with proper modeling it can be learned and practiced. Help them solve problems among peers by giving suggestions, especially ones that would make everyone happy. By working towards group satisfaction, young people won’t run the risk of disrespecting others.
2. Participation takes turns
Social situations are all about communication, which involves listening as well as talking. While some students may get nervous about speaking in a group, others might dominate the conversation and prevent others from participating. Explain that communication only works when all people listen and have the opportunity to share thoughts. Practice taking turns, waiting and sharing with your group.
3. Plans fall through
Most of the time, kids won’t get exactly what they want. Interacting with others involves changing and compromising, according to WingsforKids.org. Emphasize that youth need to decide what is best for the group even if it isn’t their idea or what they wanted to do in the first place. Explain that they need to express their needs without getting frustrated or attacking the other person. If things still don’t go their way, help them avoid holding grudges and repair relationships. Model apologies by apologizing graciously and often, and avoid making an apology into a punishment. Finally, teach them to celebrate what the outcome is, even if it was unexpected!
Studying science, math and reading is important, but so is social development. “A quality program provides a balanced variety of activities that support the growth and development of program participants,” according to the CASE for Kids Program Quality Framework. Without healthy social practices, children may not get the most out of their time in and out of the classroom. Though the summer may take away time with classmates and teachers, children will never be completely alone. Summer months provide a great opportunity to teach children how to build successful relationships with classmates, friends and family.
All kids need safe, supervised environments throughout the day with opportunities to help prepare them for the future. To learn more about CASE for Kids, call 713-696-1331 or visit www.afterschoolzone.org.