There are many reasons parents choose to homeschool their pre-school aged child, but no matter what the reason, parents may find themselves concerned about their child’s social skills. While the Montessori practical life lessons of Grace and Courtesy are wonderful ways to learn how to treat others, children may find themselves at a loss in new social situations.
Developing Socials Skills for Homeschool Children With Montessori
Learning to play and interact with others is an important social skill. It is also important to learn what is socially acceptable behavior in small and large group environments. As the child grows older, some things like sports or art lessons are taught in group environments, which can be overwhelming for someone unaccustomed to socializing.
Montessori teachers and homeschoolers know that children are successful when the environment is prepared. Do not rush into immediate situations which demand social interaction before discussing,or even role playing what might happen or what will be acceptable. One way to do this is by reading books together, such as Cheri Meiners’ series on Learning to Get Along.
Playing with children is another great way to help develop social skills and awareness. Children gain important social skills from parents who model appropriate behavior and responses. Often, children who regularly play with their parents have more advanced social skills.
Another activity is to discuss behaviors you see around you. For example: if you are at the park playing, and you notice another child having a tantrum, you could discuss that on the way home. “Did you notice how that little boy was crying and hitting the other boy when they were in the sandbox? Why do you think that happened? What could he have done differently? How do you think each boy feels now?” It is not condemnation; it is discussing social interactions and appropriate behavior.
Some people feel that in order to learn social skills, children need to be surrounded by other children. This socializing should not be confused with socialization. As the parent, it is up to you to choose how and when your child socializes. After all, it is just as easy to learn inappropriate behavior as it is to learn to be courteous.
When choosing social activities for your child, start with some guided, or structured interaction. The important part to remember is to discuss expectations of behavior both of self and others before hand, and to role play different scenarios before for practice.
- Story time at the library
- A Tea Party with a friend (books to read beforehand: Fancy Nancy: Tea for Two; Fancy Nancy: Tea Parties; Olivia Plans a Tea Party)
- Having a lemonade stand for the neighborhood
- Swimming lessons (even one-on-one interactions with the instructor teaches listening skills and cooperation)
- Visiting a children's museum
- Role playing with puppets
- Coming up with a strategy. Teach your child to:
- 1) Think about what it is they want
- 2) Come up with some solutions
- 3) Visualize what could happen
- 4) Try it out!
Overall, the relationship between parent and child is fundamental in developing social skills. When the child learns respect and courtesy at home, they are more apt to practice it in their daily life.
For further reading: Encouraging Social Skills in Young Children: Tips Teachers Can Share With Parents
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.