In the last month, information about four crucial school readiness domains were provided as a way for parents to feel empowered as well as to support them in digging deeper as to “why” the advice of “talk, sing and read to your baby” is so important. Information was shared about why the advice to “talk, sing, read” to young children is important for their development of expressive language (i.e., babies/toddlers’ use of language), receptive language (i.e., babies/toddlers’ understanding of language), speech/articulation and understanding/use of emotions. This week, the focus is on the skills for understanding and using social skills, which are also necessary for children to be successful in school.
Social skill development is a primary factor in school readiness. It cannot be emphasized enough in the birth to 3 period of development. Learning in any situation hinges on a child’s ability to successfully interact with others. To be truly ready for school, it is actually more important for a child to have solid social skills, for activities like participating in circle time, following classroom routines and sharing information with classmates/teachers, than to know all of his letters, numbers, colors or shapes. A child with well-developed social skills has a greater chance at school success than a child who can read but cannot sit on the classroom carpet during circle time and cannot work well with a group of classmates on a project.
So, let’s ask ourselves again: why do we “talk, sing, read” to babies and toddlers? It’s because these activities build connections in their brains that lead to the social skill development which is necessary to learn in a classroom setting. The following skills are an absolute necessity for school readiness by the age of 36 months with regard to social understanding/ability:
- Recognize and response to social cues of others.
- Take turns.
- Share objects, ideas and time with others.
- Identify what works and what doesn’t work in social situations, especially when there is a conflict.
- Communicate to a peer what might happen next time, after a conflict has occurred.
- Understand how to mediate conflict with others.
- Understand how to regulate, or control, another’s feelings.
- Play games that are structured or unstructured.
- Understand the power of language when being social.
- Interact with a wide variety of people (e.g., loud/quiet people, people who are taller or shorter than oneself, young/old people, energetic people, people with a low- or high-pitched voice, etc.).
- Use good eye contact considering are and temperament.
- Understand how toys are used in play situations.
- Engage in purposeful, meaningful interactions and activities with others to build relationships.
- Collaborate with others to pose and solve problems.
- Understand one’s own social, cultural, global and environmental responsibilities.
- Understand and use non-verbal means of expressing ideas through multi-media, such as coloring on paper, painting, “writing” on a wipe board (even if the child is not yet writing letters in the early stages of development), gluing shapes on paper, shaping modeling clay, etc. in order to connect with others (e.g., saying “Look what I made!” or “This is hard to do. Can you help me?”).
- Understand and use non-verbal means of engaging in the creative process to share one’s creativity with a larger audience (e.g., displaying artwork in a school hallway for “back-to-School Night” or for other students’ viewing pleasure).
- Understand that one’s own creative work expresses something about one’s own personality dreams, plans, and other parts of who a child is.
- Understand the importance of receiving feedback from others (e.g., family/friends, teachers, community members, a wide-ranging global audience, etc.).
- Use multi-modal communication (e.g., auditory/verbal, pictures, video, etc.) to connect with others safely and securely.
- Understand how one’s own actions can impact many people in either a positive or negative way.
- Share and learn from others with similar interests and passions, while having an understanding of diversity and different interests and passions.
To be sure, once parents and caregivers know the skills that are needed in classrooms to demonstrate social skills after the age of 36 months, they are able to be more conscious about how to talk, read and sing to babies and toddlers from 0-36 months of age. They can plan activities (or be spontaneous while feeding, bathing, etc.) armed with the “why” behind choosing certain words, certain books or certain songs which are beneficial and crucial to school readiness by the age of 36 months.
Related resources regarding building social understanding/ability in babies and toddlers for school readiness by 36 months of age:
**Check out the Operation Ready by 3 website at http://www.operationreadyby3.org for more information about parent/caregiver coaching and classes designed to get babies and toddlers ready for school by 36 months and/or to contact Operation Ready by 3 with questions and comments.
**Follow Operation Ready by 3 on Twitter: @Readyby3
Cindi Zarpas Stevens is the creator/founder of Operation Ready by 3 (her mission) and the president of Norfolk Speech & Language Services, Inc. (her day job that pays). She is a mother of 5 (her unpaid, 24-7 job). In her work as a writer (her passion), she supports parents, caregivers and early childhood educators as they navigate Babyland and Toddlerland with greater consciousness, ease, confidence, expertise and joy. She thinks the best job in the world is talking to parents, caregivers and educators about babies and toddlers (they’re amazing, fun and adorable) about ideas such as sharing power with their child (it’s peaceful and positive) while at the same time having power within themselves (it’s affirming and empowering) to be the best parent, caregiver, and educator they can be in order to get the children in their lives ready for school by the age of 36 months (to make the world a better place).