Parents put away the flashcards; your child’s social skills are more important than academics!

Experts are telling us that the development of the right side of the brain in the first years of life is the most important priority; this means bonding and social connection with parents, carers, and other children. The right side of the brain is known as the ‘social brain’, and the human brain is born to connect with others as a matter of survival.

We know that early education creates an important baseline for academic learning later, but parents need to know that social skills are far more predictive of successful outcomes in adulthood than early academics.

  1. How to get along and play well with others. Play is the medium through which kids learn about the world around them. Playing with others teaches children to negotiate, problem-solve, take turns, share, and experiment. Make time for free play with other children; the more unstructured, the better!
  2. Allow your child the opportunity to problem-solve. Parents who get involved too early to “help” their child solve a problem rob them of the opportunity to learn and practice this critical life skill. Next time your child has a problem, allow them to participate in problem-solving. Put your child in the driver’s seat, ask them what they think they can do about the problem at hand, and support and guide them in the process. This builds self-esteem, enhances problem-solving skills such as brainstorming and negotiation, and builds insight into one’s own behaviours and how others respond to those behaviours in the real world.
  3. Encourage your child to recognise and name their own feelings. Helping them recognise and label their feelings helps a child validate their emotions and trust themselves. Also, discussing how others might feel in certain situations through verbal and non-verbal cues can build empathy and increase emotional intelligence. 
  4. Notice when your child is demonstrating helpful behaviours. Being helpful encourages a child to think beyond themselves and to empathise and recognise the needs of others.  Complimenting them on these behaviours encourages them to continue.
  5. Teach and encourage impulse control. Part of executive function, impulse control, is directed by the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which doesn’t fully mature until early adulthood. However, some of the critical development in this area occurs in the first five years; therefore, practising these skills early on lays a good foundation. Whole-body movement games such as “Red Light/Green Light,” ‘Musical Statues’ or ‘Simon Says” help kids develop control over their body’s impulse to move, whilst imaginative play can help kids plan before acting, wait their turn, and follow the rules instead of acting on their own impulses.

No one is saying academic skills are not important, but by educating and supporting your child’s social skills development, and providing opportunities to connect with family and friends, you are teaching your child essential life skills that are the most predictive of long-term success and wellbeing.

If you think Brainfit Kids could help your child develop better social skills, optimise movement and enhance emotional regulation, give us a call today!

Morgan, A., 2022, Your child’s social skills in kindergarten are more important than their academics,