How To Teach Kids Social Skills – Guest Post

Hey guys! This week I have a guest post from Rusty May. Rusty is a veteran school counselor who runs SchoolToolsTV, a site with videos that teachers can use to teach social skills and positive values to their students. He's an expert on helping kids succeed, and I'm excited to share his thoughts on teaching kids social skills. Although his advice is aimed at teachers, with a bit of creative thinking anyone -- parents, coaches, friends -- can apply his tips as well. Enjoy!


My name is Rusty May and I'm proud to be a guest on Dan's blog this week to talk about how to teach social skills in the classroom and why it's so important to the success of everything else you do as an educator. First the why.

A student doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care. The student/teacher relationship has a direct correlation on academic achievement, and daily social skills education has a direct effect on that relationship.

If the student doesn’t believe that it’s more about them than it is about their test score, they will not take risks or reach their full potential in the classroom.

Social skills are the building blocks for success in and out of the classroom. Helping children acquire these valuable life skills will be a constant reminder that you care about them and they will work harder for you.

By teaching, modeling and reinforcing these basic skills, you'll have kids who are more engaged, which will improve academic results and increase teachable time. How can you do this with everything else you have on your plate? All it takes is 5 minutes to get good results.

1) Guard The Door. Greet students when they arrive and say goodbye at the end of the day with a gesture that's right for you, i.e. handshake, fist bump, high five.

2) Great Start. Start each day with a social skills activity that relates to what you're seeing or not seeing in your class which results in a question. I highly recommend my show, SchoolToolsTV, which does all the work for you, but I'm biased.

Then, have a short conversation about the question and encourage the kids who need it most to say something. It's also a great writing prompt, and you will learn a lot by reading those journal entries.

3) Grade The Mood. Before or after your morning meeting, ask each student to give themselves a mood grade for the day from 1-100 with 100 being awesome. Pay attention to any patterns and touch base with those who seem down when you can through the day. [Dan note: Check out this story of a teacher who followed up with struggling kids to see what an impact this can make.]

And if you can find another 5-10 minutes a week, take the time to model a skill you want the kids to use, have them model it as well and then do your best to acknowledge their efforts when you notice them doing it and encourage them to compliment each other when they see it in someone else.

Thanks again Dan for letting me be a part of all the great work you do and have a fantastic day. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Rusty May

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