Homeschool Socialization: How Games and Stories Improve Social Skills
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We all want our kids to grow up with good social skills. But sometimes the best way to increase these skills is not by hanging out with large groups of other kids. During winter, you may have fewer activities outside the home, or your homeschool co-ops and groups may have cancelled or postponed social events until after the pandemic.
You may also be facing financial difficulties and need to cancel your child’s after-school activities or co-op classes because you can’t afford them.
But don’t worry, this does not mean that your child cannot keep growing their social skills. The family is not made of one person. The first thing to remember about staying home together is that your children have plenty of opportunity to work on a number of social skills within the family. Strengthening communication, sharing, empathy, and connection can all be practiced within the family.
How Games Build Social Skills
Games promote bonding and connection; having fun and laughing together bring people closer. Being closer with your family helps you understand how to build relationships outside of the family. Below are a few of the social skills that are exercised when playing games.
- Turn taking
- Being a graceful winner
- Being a good-sport loser
- Anticipating the moves and motivation of another person
- Trying to get inside your opponent’s way of thinking
How Reading Stories Promotes Social Skills
When we read stories, we often experience life through the eyes of another character. We understand why the characters are feeling and acting the way they are. This translates into real life by being able to step outside of our own perspective and thinking about how the other person is feeling, which often makes it easier to understand their actions.
This creates a foundation of empathy and compassion, which are more complex social skills that are needed for healthy long-term relationships.
Conversation skills are another important social skill. Believe it or not, reading books can actually help your child learn the skills needed to become a great conversationalist.
Having a good conversation requires these skills:
All of these things are also needed when you are reading a great story. By practicing these fundamental skills, your child will be able to take their conversations to a new level when they meet new people and make new friends.
Social skills don’t happen overnight or all in just one way. Rather, they are built slowly, and we are often supporting their development even when we are not aware of it. There are many ways to support and practice our kid’s social skills even when we can’t get them out of the house and around other kids for a time.
Marla Szwast lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and six children. She has written articles for The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. She is the author of Stepping Through History: Starting With You!, and a semester long fifth grade science course. Both courses are published online at the SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership website. She writes about home schooling, child development, neuroscience, and the history of education on her blog at: www.jumpintogenius.com, you can also follow her on Facebook @jumpintogenius, or Twitter @MarlaSzwast, or Medium.