Social Skills (Preschool)


Children are just learning the complex skills of cooperating, sharing and communicating with others. Children can be encouraged to practice appropriate social skills in school and at home.

1. Pair Children Together

Teachers can help build social skills by pairing children together. Use ‘buddy’ necklaces with shapes or colors and ask each child to find their match. Pair children who have strong social and play skills with children who may have fewer skills or challenging behavior. Ask them to play together until the timer rings (10 minutes).

2. Practice Working Cooperatively

Children can benefit from working cooperatively to build social skills. Pair children together and provide them with an activity that requires teamwork and problem solving. In the classroom, this may be a puzzle or art project. At home, siblings can work to fold blankets, set the table, bake cookies or build a fort.

3. Teach Problem-Solving

When children argue, resist the urge to solve their problem. Instead, hold the toy or stop the play and ask each child what happened. Simply repeat back what they say, asking “how can you solve your problem?” Allow them to explore solutions. Eventually, the desire to get back to the play will motivate them to negotiate a solution.

4. Practice Taking Turns

The ability to take turns requires patience and maturity and develops slowly over time. Help children practice this by creating some structure around turn taking. Use an egg timer when children need to take turns using a special toy or have difficulty waiting for an activity. Teach them to set it themselves.

5. Allow Individual Space

When children are asked to share too often they tend to become overprotective and less generous with toys or materials. Instead, allow children to use a mat or tray for their play dough or Legos and teach the other children that they may not take something off of someone’s tray. In blocks, use masking tape on the rug to outline individual spaces for building.