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How to develop children’s social skills through story book

by : Ni Made Wulan Sintiyari

Human beings are sociable creatures and have developed many ways to communicate messages, thoughts and feelings with others. The best way for children to learn social skills is through practice. Young children need lots of opportunities to play with other kids – older, younger and the same age. There will be some bumps as children make mistakes and refine their social strategies but, in general, the more opportunities children have to practice social skills, the more quickly they learn them. Social skills are not always learned easily. Some children may require repeated instruction and reinforcement of learning.

Children can learn social skills through social interaction with family, their peers, and society in general. Luckily, books can help with that. Research shows that reading fiction puts us in the mind of another person, allows us to experience every challenge, feel every emotion, and triumph over adversities right alongside our favorite characters. This direct immersion in another person’s mind stimulates systems in the brain, and develops the ability to empathize with other human beings. Using children’s literature has many benefits for teaching social skills to children. As a tool for teaching, stories provide easy and creative introductions to a topic. Many children’s books are available on the topic of friends, socializing, conversation, and playing together.

Teaching and introducing skills with a book involves many benefits. First, reading to the students can increase their literacy, listening comprehension, and vocabulary. Students enjoy stories and are motivated to learn more than if direct teaching were the only aspect of skills lessons. Second the story provides relevant examples of how to use skills and about what to do during peer interaction. For example, students may be able to relate to the emotions of the characters. Stories can also encourage students to pay attention to their own actions and behavior. Third, because stories are fun and pleasurable for many children, being read to may not be seen as a typical lesson, but as a leisure activity during class time for many children.

The academic benefits of reading have been well publicized. What is less often considered is how those skills overlap into social situations. Social skills are a vital part of a child’s growth and development. While we are increasingly connected on the digital front, we are also becoming less connected in everyday life. As they move on to adulthood and the job market, learning appropriate methods of social interaction at an early age will be even more important. Reading books can improve those skills.

It is generally well-known that reading improves focus and concentration in academics. That same focus is essential to social interaction. Think of the many crucial traits of a good conversationalist: the ability to give your full attention and be present in the moment, to wait for your partner to finish their thought before adding your own, and stay in the conversation, even if it has become tedious or a source of conflict.

In addition to learning empathy, books provide an endless supply of social interaction examples from which to learn. Scenes full of character dialogue show children effective – and ineffective – ways to handle conflict in a variety of situations. It allows children to experience a range of moods and emotions they aren’t likely to experience in everyday life. Experiencing these emotions in a “safe” environment allows the child to think about how they might react in a similar situation, preparing them for future interactions.

Story books teach children appropriate skills such as maintaining a conversation with peers, joining-in behavior and sportsmanship. It teaches children how to describe settings, respond to cues, and prompting. Story books give children perspective on thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of others. It helps them predict the actions of others, they may otherwise not understand. The structure of social stories, their pictures and text descriptions help children to develop their social skills.


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