How to Teach Social Skills to Students (And Why It’s Important!)

How to Teach Social Skills to Students (And Why It’s Important!)


We regularly hear of stories in the media that children are overworked and stressed. This usually put down to the demands of getting good grades.

This has caused many people to question whether concentrating exclusively on school grades is the wrong approach to educating our children and young people.

This raises the question that maybe there’s more to education than grades.

School is about developing children into happy and healthy adults. An increasing body of evidence suggests that the way to achieve this is to teach social skills.

But teachers are faced with the question of how to teach social skills?

It’s not so different from teaching history or math. And yet, many teachers find that social skills are much more abstract and confusing than most subjects to teach.

But there are many useful strategies and ideas about how to incorporate social skills into the rest of your lessons. Keep reading to find out more about teaching social skills.

Why Social Skills Matter?

Before we can go into how to teach social skills, let’s start by looking at the evidence for why social skills matter for children and young people. Social skills have been found to be beneficiary to children for a variety of reasons. Let’s focus on the three top reasons.

1. Successful Careers

A major part of education is about preparing children for the world of work. It’s one of the biggest transitions you can make in life. We need to start preparing children from the get-go rather than towards the end of high school.

But a successful career is not simply about getting top grades. Employers are always looking for a range of knowledge, experience, and skills that make the best candidate. Many schools overlook the importance of social skills to ensuring a successful career.

Career’s advice experts suggest that social skills are crucial to a successful career. This is also supported by educational research.

In one study into kindergarten kids, it was found that children who test well for good social skills at a young age are more likely to graduate from college. This suggests that the sooner we start educating children in social skills the better.

Furthermore, demonstrating good social skills at a young age also makes landing a high-paying job much probable.

2. Improves Grades

There are many links between academic grades and social skills. By concentrating on social skills lessons during the school day, academic grades do not have to suffer.

According to education research, students who perform high on social skill tests also have better overall grades. This means that educating children about social skills can improve grades.

Educational researchers found that the social skills of self-discipline were the most effective predictor of grades among 8th graders. In other words, social skills are a better predictor of grades than IQ, attendance or the quality of the school.

3. Better People

Improving academic grades and putting children on the path towards a successful career is important. The development of emotional intelligence and social skills goes beyond the education system.

Poor social skills have been linked to poor health. This ranges from mental health issues, such as causing outbreaks of anxiety and depression, to physical problems, such as higher obesity rates.

It’s also about helping to develop better people. People who can positively contribute to society. People who are able to form and sustain relationships with other people.

Children who fail to develop social skills are more likely to fall into drug abuse and crime. This has wider societal costs, as well as, harm to the individual.

How to Teach Social Skills?

Teaching social skills is increasingly seen as an important part of educating children. However, recognizing the need for social skills education is much easier than actually teaching social skills.

How are you supposed to incorporate social skills lessons into the curriculum?

Fortunately, there are many different ways of teaching social skills in the classroom that have proven effective.

What are Social Skills?

It’s important to talk to the children about what social skills are before you can teach the different ones. The teacher has to carefully explain why social skills are so important to learn.

This doesn’t have to simply be the teacher stood at the front of the classroom explaining what self-discipline or concentration matters. The beauty of social skills is that children will already have some understanding of what it means.

You can try to start a discussion about how communicating effectively is important in the classroom, on the playground, and at home. This is a great way to start teaching kids about social skills.

For more information on social skills education, check out Social Skills Co. for help.

Which Social Skills?

Teaching social skills in the classroom is not much different from any other subject.

You can’t simply teach history all at once. You have to choose a period of time, such as Ancient times. You also need a place, such as Greece.

The same goes for social skills. There are many social skills. All of them are important in different ways and contexts.

You can start by asking the students to come up with ideas of social skills themselves. This may require your guidance but they’ll eventually get the hang of it. After this, you can choose different social skills each week to focus on.

Some examples of social skills include:

  • Waiting your turn and patience
  • Tolerating and accepting difference
  • Responsibility for your own actions
  • Manners and politeness
  • Listening to others
  • Concentrating on tasks
  • Following instructions
  • Requesting assistance or help

These a just a few examples of important social skills that can be taught in the classroom. But it’s impossible to go through strategies to teach each social skills.

There might be a particular social skill that you believe is especially relevant for your students. Perhaps they have a particular problem with asking for help when they need it or accepting difference.

That’s why we’re going to concentrate on a single social skill to illustrate how it’s done. Many of the teaching methods used in this example can also be applied to the other social skills.

How to Teach: Follow Instructions

Let’s choose ‘follow instructions’ as our example.

This is especially important in the school environment because the teacher needs to be able to pass on instructions to the students effectively to teach the curriculum.

However, it also has many important applications in the real world from the workplace to obeying laws.

1. Examples of Following Instructions

You can start off by getting your students to come up with examples of following instructions. Get them to paint a picture of what following instructions looks like.

Examples would include, concentrating on what the teacher is saying, listening carefully to thinking about how the instructions apply to you.

2. Practice Following Instructions

It’s time to practice the skills. You can incorporate this into your other lessons. For example, Geography lessons.

You can start with the instructions:

  1. Take out your Geography exercise book
  2. Turn to page 14
  3. Find exercise 5
  4. Complete the task

By doing this kind of exercise over and over, your students will gradually begin to follow the instructions automatically without a second thought.

If students are struggling with the following instructions skill. You can also try to provide an exercise in which the students are given a set of cut out instructions. The task is to organize the different instructions in order in the correct order.

Reflect on the Skill

Asking your students to reflect on what they have learned is an important step.

How does what they have learned compare to what they thought before? How can they apply this skills to the rest of life? How can they improve the skill for the future?

By reflecting on what they have learned, the students are more likely to retain it.

Social Skills Learning

Social skills education is one of the most important things teachers can pass on to their students. It’s not enough to concentrate on the battles of history and theories in physics. Social skills can make a big difference to a child’s life chances.

There are many teaching strategies that can help teachers with how to teach social skills. This way they can effectively communicate the importance of social skills to children. We can ensure that our children grow up to be emotionally and socially developed adults.

Did you believe that social skills are an important part of school education?

Do you want to find out more about how to make sure your child is getting the education he or she deserves? Check out our other blog posts today!


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