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Do you work with students who struggle with getting along with others? Do they argue over games and rules? Make other kids feel uncomfortable or annoyed? Act as though they are “in charge” of others in social situations?

While all children struggle to get along with others once in a while, for some, it takes explicit teaching and extra practice. There is no best way to teach this skill, but by following these tips you will be well on your way to helping your elementary students build healthy relationships with their classmates.

In order to get along with others in a classroom, small group or play activity {sports team/recess/playdate}, young children need to be able to engage in the following basic social skills: 

  • Sharing
  • Cooperating
  • Taking Turns
  • Using Kind Language
  • Respecting Personal Space

5 Tips To Help Your Students Learn & Practice The Social Skills Needed, To Get Along With Others

Tip 1: Create many opportunities for your students to share by making materials limited. For example, during a cut and paste activity, put out one less glue stick than number of children at the table. Support children in their efforts to share. *Note: Do not just tell them to “share” but rather lead them towards figuring out that they will need to share and how to do it.

Tip 2: Provide creative opportunities for your students to cooperate. Give students classroom jobs that require 2 people(or make the job require 2 people even if it is not really necessary), instead of every student having their own job. For example, one student picks up the markers, the other holds the bin. Could picking up markers be done by 1 person…SURE, but let’s turn it into an activity to practice cooperation (not to mention teamwork and negotiation).

Tip 3: Reinforce turn taking by highlighting it whenever you can. For example, when asking a question and calling on children who are raising their hands, tell them who you will call on for the next two or three turns, i.e. “I will call on Sue, Eddie, then Jessie.” The students will know that they are expected to wait, but will get a turn soon. This helps children practice waiting while decreasing anxiety.

Tip 4: Give them the words! Have a word wall with great compliment words and other positive words. Increase student vocabulary with awesome words like; adventurous, courageous, diligent, reliable, sincere, witty…You could even assign points to words…1 point words (nice, fun, cool), 2 point words (thoughtful, generous, curious), 3 point words (courageous, diligent, powerful).

Tip 5: Have table groups? Use masking tape to mark each students space by placing tape lengthwise down the center of the table then going across to make a box for each child’s personal space. Have students try to keep their belongings {and elbows} in their space. You can also do a similar thing with spots on the rug. Using masking tape, create shapes for children to sit in. Make them big enough for children to be comfortable and an appropriate distance apart from each other. Giving students their own space will give them fewer opportunities to have disagreements.

Need more practice? 

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Hopefully these 5 tips will have a huge effect in helping your students learn to get along with others! If you need more help teaching getting along with others, check out this blog post that includes 10 books for teaching students how to get along with others. 

Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids


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