It goes without saying that social skills are one of the most important practical life skills that children can develop. It not only fosters their personal relationships but also puts their professional growth on the right track for the future. Usually, children hit it off straight away with their peers without any inhibitions. However, some children find it challenging to overcome their shyness to make new friends.
While parents try to address this concern at home in their own ways, teachers can also make a positive difference in the behaviour of socially awkward children. A school is a place where children have ample opportunities to interact and forge friendships with same age group kids. Teachers can use the school hours to help introvert children break their social communication barriers and mingle with others.
Here are five useful tips for teachers to develop social skills in such students and encourage them to make friends:
1. Help Them Take the First Step
Is the shy child sitting alone in the corner of the class? Are other students rejecting his or her efforts to become friends? Are they ignoring him or her during lunch breaks? Teachers can intervene and take charge of the situation. With the encouragement from the teacher, both the child as well as the classmates will take a few steps of friendship towards each other.
2. Conduct Group Activities in Classroom
The quiet children are often likely to go unnoticed in classroom activities because they don’t participate willingly or actively. Teachers should design activities which require group participation so that the socially awkward child can socialize easily. Over a period of time, their inhibitions will fly away and they will be able to interact more comfortably with friends.
3. Give Them Stage to Voice Their Thoughts and Talent
Teachers should give shy children verbal assignments such as ‘share a story about your best friend’, ‘how will help your friends’ or ‘what you like the most about your friends’, ‘what are your strengths’, ‘tell a few lines about yourself’, etc. These children can then speak their thoughts in front of the class. If they possess special talents such as singing, dancing, painting or skating, give them an opportunity to showcase the skills. Such stage activities will act as their personal introduction to the class and also boost their confidence.
4. Make Them a Leader
Just because some children remain withdrawn doesn’t indicate their lack of ability to take responsibility. Teachers can give their reticent nature a gentle nudge towards open communication by making them a class monitor for any activity or asking them to do some exclusive chores that no other student had the privilege of doing. For instance, teachers can put the child in charge of checking students’ class diaries for parent’s signature every day. If there is some event taking place in the school, teachers can ask them for assistance.
5. Create Buddy Programme
Buddy programmes are a great way to encourage peer relationships among children. Teachers can create buddy groups of two or three students for reading, projects or any other class activity. However, teachers should create buddies with like-minded interests rather than their academic strengths. This will help the reticent kids to connect better with their buddies. The buddy groups can change every few weeks or months so that children can open up to new friends at regular intervals.
Socially awkward children need acceptance and patience from their friends to become friends. All teachers need to do is to bridge the gap between them with conscious efforts.