Power of friendship: Tips on nurturing social skills in early education - Hindustan Times
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Power of friendship: Tips on nurturing social skills in early education

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Mar 01, 2024 02:51 PM IST

Social skills can help young minds build positive social relationships and find their future tribe. Here are tips to nurture social skills in early education

Friendship, a term significantly understated, forms the essence of a bond that enriches our lives in so many ways as it delivers that dose of self-confidence and purpose in a world permeated by a hinging sense of loneliness. In that scenario, early exposure to positive social interactions unlocks emotional intelligence acumen for life.

Power of friendship: Tips on nurturing social skills in early education (Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash)
Power of friendship: Tips on nurturing social skills in early education (Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dhruv Ahuja, CEO and Founder of IKidz, shared, “Since every child is unique, some may find it easier to forge friendships while others may struggle to contribute to healthier interpersonal relationships. Subsequently, this requires an inclusive environment, wherein every child understands the importance of social skills development. This will offer them space to explore and embrace that journey on their terms. Furthermore, social skills can help young minds build positive social relationships and find their future tribe.”

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Encouraging the cultivation of friendships and social skills in early education, he suggested -

  1. Start Early: The journey of social skill development begins early as toddlers. However, the intricate process of forming friendships doesn’t begin until the onset of early childhood education. For both parents and educators alike, their role is limited to introducing social skill development as an essential life skill. Additionally, it is also limited to providing young brains with the opportunity to capitalise on their focus on the same. With early Social Skill Development, children can be better prepared to navigate through different experiences as they traverse further in the journey of life.
  2. Incorporate Play-Based Learning: Undoubtedly, children are keener to learn from activities that are fun rather than the rigorous and exhaustive processes of conventional learning. It is essential to utilize play-based activities and group interactions as vehicles for teaching social skills. From the peripherals of role-plays, conversations, and games, fostering social competence and learning how to make friends can be more than just a learning experience.
  3. Model Positive Behaviour: It’s an obvious fact to state that children mirror the behavior of adults around them. Parents and caregivers when acting as positive role models, it showcases to them the right way to engage in social interactions. When children witness adults model good behavior, whether it's the simple act of sharing, showing empathy, cooperating, or being kind and polite, it all goes a long way in leaving a lasting impact on the psyche of young minds. As a result, they involuntarily start employing the same practices in their daily lives.
  4. Opportunities for Peer Interactions: Structured opportunities help children to engage with their peers in both social and academic contexts. Social outings with other children of their age, such as their book readings at local libraries or playgrounds help them operate in a social setting through play. Furthermore, extracurricular activities fit best with children’s interests as they help children learn to initiate conversations and master the basic art of sharing, talking, and cooperating.
  5. Inculcating Emotional Literacy: Parents often tend to act as their children’s spokesperson, mitigating the value of their words and expressions. In a fiercely competitive world, diligently curating an expressive environment can help children identify and express their emotions constructively. Open dialogue about the complexities of emotion can further deliver them the knowledge to create a harmonious balance between emotional quotient and intelligence quotient. Subsequently, children are bound to feel empowered, recognized, and heard, which will lay the groundwork for future friendships and positive social relationships.
  6. Involve Parents, Educators and Caregivers: Nurturing young minds is an ongoing process that requires patience, consistency, and above all robust partnerships among parents, educators, and caregivers. They are all collectively involved in the intricate process of promoting social skill development. Beyond this, all three distinct entities should merely act as guides and not dictators, deciding what’s right or wrong on behalf of the children. On the other hand, children require ample space to expand their knowledge. For instance, allowing them to be able to make mistakes and simultaneously helping them learn from them. This will not only make them adept at socialization but will also instill a sense of self-worth and esteem, amplifying their feeling of belongingness to the world.

Dhruv Ahuja concluded, “Within the vibrant tapestry of childhood, early friendships cater as beacons of joy and blueprints for future social relationships. Acting as the catalysts of growth, parents, educators, and caregivers empower children with invaluable social skills necessary for cultivating strong, positive connections. Nevertheless, social skills in early education, act as the building blocks of resilient, empathetic individuals, fostering a community founded on the principles of empathy and social consciousness.”

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