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Social skills v. academic skills

(17 Posts)
curtaincall Wed 22-Jun-11 10:06:28

Following on from a recent thread, I wonder now about the emphasis schools place on exam results over and above social skills for primary children.

There is a boy in Y1, friend of ds, who is very middling with his work, but has the maturity of a much older child without being annoyingly precocious. He spontaneously greets all the teachers he sees by name in the morning. The family have fallen on hard times but I feel this child will be fine as he has such a confident and sunny outlook and gets on well with other children. He came to play at our house recently and came up to me and apologised, off his own bat, for helping ds turn the room upside down. Still needed reminding to put it back in order, but his attitude is so positive and confident. Can the schools teach this?

cory Wed 22-Jun-11 10:49:05

I think schools can do a lot in this area too- and dcs' schools certainly have- but in the nature of things the effect is likely to be more lasting if these skills are then mirrored in the outside world, i.e. the child's family. If the child feels both school and family consider manners important, then they will seem more of a natural thing. If teachers are on their own, without support from the family, it will be much harder.

JustCallMeMummyPig Wed 22-Jun-11 10:51:29

What a lovely sounding little boy, your right i'm sure he'll go far.

Although the schools obviously have a huge influence, i do think that unless it's supported at home it won't happen.

curtaincall Wed 22-Jun-11 11:08:43

His parents have good social skills too but I would say he is quite an exceptional child. Agree that the schools need to have this supported at home as I've heard that school only makes up less than 10% of the overall influence on a child at this age.

IndigoBell Wed 22-Jun-11 11:09:04

Your EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) is more important in most jobs than your IQ........

I think Emotional Intelligence is taught much more in school now than it ever was, (Circle Time, SEAL, etc) and I have def noticed when I changed school how much more this was emphasised at the new school......

smee Wed 22-Jun-11 11:20:44

Depends v.much on individual school ethos. Ours was pretty useless academically (improving now), but fantastic on the social side. We chose it over other local schools because the difference was so obvious and it made a far happier school/ group of kids.

curtaincall Wed 22-Jun-11 11:48:01

Ours is great. Ds wouldn't look Reception teacher in the eye when he started, despite DH and I being pretty confident, sociable people, and now near the end of Y1 when I drop him off, he goes straight up to teacher and looks at her as he says good morning. I'm very happy with the school as they have actively encouraged that.

scotchbroth1 Wed 22-Jun-11 12:24:05

I'd say kudos to that boys parents for bringing him up in such a polite manner. Schools don't teach these things to the extend they should, though in fairness it is for parents to do. To succeed in life though you need both. Another Einstein with no social skills or one with charm, charisma but uneducated. Parents and teachers have to let both flourish and usually one or the other is let down.

Maybe schools are wary with increasing amount of (genuine) Aspergers Syndrome not to further alienate those with genuine social difficulties. A parent reading this with direct experience of ASD would find this a little painful. (I have a nephew with ASD and he is considered very bright but socially inept)

rabbitstew Wed 22-Jun-11 13:50:30

My dss are both extremely academically bright but struggle more with the social side - ds1 because he has mild aspergers and ds2 because he emulates his big brother and prefers mixing with older children... It was an overwhelming relief to me that their school took my concerns about their social skills as seriously as they took their academic abilities and have provided a caring, nurturing environment for them to find their social and emotional "feet" without losing any sense of self esteem. From my point of view, a day feeding my children's academic interests but not paying attention to their other needs would be a waste of their time - they don't need intensive assistance to pick up academic concepts, so would be spending far too much of their time in school if they were doing just that when they could be learning more useful things elsewhere. I feel most thankful that their school treats them as whole people with a complex range of needs, strengths and weaknesses, all of which feed off each other (an unhappy child who feels friendless may well find their academic work suffers too in the end, because they just stop liking being at school altogether) and doesn't merely fob me off with the viewpoint that school is nothing more than a place where children learn to read, write, add up and learn a few facts. The problem some schools face, though, of course, is when they have children who have problems in all areas, because then there isn't enough time in the school day to meet all their needs and priorities have to be set... at which point, I think the general opinion is that school must at least teach them to read, write and add up if nothing else.

LovetheHarp Wed 22-Jun-11 14:36:50

I think this is a huge topic as "social skills" covers so many areas. Manners it's an easy one in my opinion, as they should be taught at home and reinforced at school rather than the other way round. I don't expect school to teach my children manners tbh.

Take confidence as another example and imo it is a huge can of worms, as I struggle myself with what real confidence is and how it manifests itself. My DD1 will not talk to strangers or anyone who she doesn't know well, I'd say she is an introvert, so you'd think she is not confident- however she will take on any challenge (sport, academic, etc) and has a huge confidence in her own abilities. She is also very popular at school and has no self esteem issues.

My DS1 on the other hand will stand up on a stool and talk to an audience with huge confidence, is a real talker and charmer, but if you get to know him well he will not try anything he is not 100% sure he will be able to do and is not keen on new challenges. Also has a very small circle of friends and will crumble immediately if one says something not so nice to him. Which one is the confident child? I am not sure. The interesting thing is that everyone comments on how confident my son is, whilst I actually think he is the one with confidence issues. But I can see it would be hard to spot.

In my experience school has had very little impact on my children's social skills, in that I have seen no change at all so far - to a certain extent they've had the same character traits since birth! I am not sure whether this means the school doesn't focus on it, or whether it really is only a small part of a child's life. Who knows!

oddgirl Wed 22-Jun-11 15:52:30

I would swop all my sons (very good) academic abilities for better and more appropriate socail skills in a heartbeat. He has ASD.

Elibean Wed 22-Jun-11 16:40:02

Ditto Smee...we chose dd's primary for the same reasons (amongst other things): much happier, more confident children. Slightly lower SATs than comparable local primaries, but higher added value.

I think schools, especially smaller, or community schools, can make a huge difference to social skills and confidence. They are like extended family, in a way. And I've seen kids (and their families, in some instances - it works from the ground up) turned around and growing in confidence and self-esteem in the space of a few years.

I just hope its not all lost at secondary school!

Bonsoir Wed 22-Jun-11 17:58:38

The social skills side is one of the big pluses of my DD's school - the children are generally fabulously confident and outgoing and well-mannered. Love it.

curtaincall Wed 22-Jun-11 18:01:34

I don't know LovetheHarp about not expecting school to teach good manners. I've seen the difference in how they eat lunch at ds's school and that of his friend at another school. There is a huge gap between learning good table manners (which he has at home too) at a smallish table with a teacher and TA at each end, and eating at extended trestles with the whole year and no adults to sit with them and guide them.

In ds' school assembly they often have themes on generosity and kindness, with examples of good behaviour encouraged throughout the school day so some of it must rub off whatever happens at home surely?

Yes, I think children do have innate characteristics but do you really think the schools make so little difference ? Why then are people so desperate to get their kids into schools with an excellent reputation for turning out all-rounders?

smee Thu 23-Jun-11 14:15:18

I definitely think/ expect schools to teach good manners. So important to socialise children and make them appreciate others and how to behave in different situations. Massive part of a good education imo.

sarahfreck Thu 23-Jun-11 14:20:20

In a good school, I don't think it should be one v the other but an appropriate emphasis on both. Having said this, I think home life has the strongest bearing of social skills, particularly good manners. Children who are given a strong lead on this from their parents will have a real advantage. I think it is quite hard for schools to teach these types of skills if they are not backed up by parental expectations at home.

sarahfreck Thu 23-Jun-11 14:20:52

On social skills blush

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