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  • Helen Grogan

Social Skills - the overlooked factor?


Much has been written about the effect of the pandemic on children’s education. What I am noticing is that whilst most parents have done a pretty good job of preparing their children for exams with tutors and good use of on- line learning, however there is one area which I think parents need to think about in terms of ‘catching up.’

I have noticed that the children we teach this term are understandably less communicative both to an adult and between themselves as they have been historically. It is only human nature but if you speak to a child and say “Hello,” it is quite disconcerting if they actually just ignore you, which has happened several times to me already this term - we took it for granted that going into the classroom and saying Hello to the teacher and your classmates was somehow just natural and it is now quite clear that it is actually learned behaviour.

Parents worry a great deal about how their children are performing academically and often take it for granted that their children are able to communicate effectively with other people. I feel that this year all parents need to be aware that children have lost a proportion of ease about talking in groups, taking turns to speak and being articulate. I don’t think paying for expensive ‘interview’ practice with guesstimates of what is to be asked and being told impressive things to say is the whole answer.

I would suggest that parents ask a friend to sit and talk to their child for a few minutes on their own and then give you an honest appraisal of what they thought -

Did the child go off quite happily into a room with an adult to have a chat or did they seem reluctant or uncomfortable?

Did they pepper their speech with the word ‘like’ every other word?

Were they able to make eye contact and reply fully to some bland questions - How was your holiday? should not be answered with a shuffle and a muttered ‘fine’

Did they say Hello or Good morning in a reasonably sensible way

Did they say “Thank you for helping me” at the conclusion of the talk

Did they squirm around and fidget or look around for someone to help with the answer?

If you can try to be aware of what impression you think your child is creating when they are interacting with an adult that they do not know well, is well worth some observation. Try to be honest and then discuss with them that it is important to try to seem good mannered and friendly.


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