Social skills are a set of abilities that enables your child to interact effectively in a social setting and build strong positive relationships with others. Adolescence is a crucial period in your child’s lifetime as it is when they develop essential social skills that they carry along for life.
As your child passes through primary years to middle school, they begin to interact with a lot of people in various social situations. As parents there are more than a few ways to support your child during this transition phase. In this article, we’ll explore social skill activities for middle schoolers including at home and group activities to boost their social skills.
Can Lack of Social Skills Hinder Success in Middle School?
Around the ages of 11- 14, your child experiences significant emotional and cognitive changes which can impact their social skill development.
It's also during this time, when they increasingly face unique challenges specific to their social setting. Peer pressure, bullying, self-esteem issues, and difficulty managing emotions are the most common challenges that your child and most children around this age may be struggling with. These challenges can have profound effects on their academic performance, personal development and overall well being. Social skills are powerful tools that can help your kids navigate the growing complexities of adolescence.
So what are some of these social skills? In this article we will look at most pertinent social skills for middle schoolers and what are some activities through which you could help your kid develop these skills through activities.
Social Skills Activities for Effective Interpersonal Interactions
Teamwork, conflict resolution, empathy, verbal communication, network building are some of the crucial skills for navigating interpersonal relationships in a social setting. Listed below are some social skill activities for middle schoolers that could help develop these skills
Participating in Sports may foster crucial social skills in middle schoolers. Through teamwork, they learn cooperation and effective communication.
Sports can also teach valuable lessons of conflict resolution. Resolving disagreements constructively on the field equips your child with skills in dealing with future conflicts at work or in personal life.
Overall, team sports can be a holistic and enriching experience for middle schoolers. It not only promotes physical fitness but also helps develop important social skills that will benefit them in various aspects of their lives.
#2 Theatre workshop
If your child has a natural inclination towards arts, theater can be a great place to meet new people and build new networks. You could look up for drama workshops near your area or encourage your middle schooler to try out for school plays.
Theater workshops could enhance their verbal and nonverbal communication skills as well. These workshops encourage articulation of thoughts and open expression of emotions. Embodying diverse characters and perspectives, one of the crucial parts to theater performance, promotes development of a crucial social skill like Empathy.
Summer camps or weekend camps are perfect places to meet new people,make friends and work in a group. If your child has difficulty opening up with their peers, camps can be a great place for them to interact with people at their own pace.
Activity camps are specifically catered towards honing and equipping young students with a bunch of crucial social skills. Activities within the camps are designed to promote interpersonal skills such as teamwork, cooperation, communication, leadership. Activity camps offer a structured and supportive environment for middle schoolers to develop these social skills that can benefit them in their present and later aspects of life.
When selecting camps, consider selecting camps that align with the interests and passions of your child. This will increase their engagement and motivation to actively participate.
#4 Debate and Guided Group Discussions
Apart from enhancing communication skills, engaging in debates and guided group discussions help your child to hone other social skills like active listening, critical thinking, empathy, and conflict resolution.
Debates and discussions held under the supervision encourage respect for differing viewpoints, promoting tolerance and open-mindedness. Having a personal opinion on matters they deem important and articulating them without the fear of judgment is a crucial social skill that can help your child succeed through college, work & beyond.
#5 Community Services
Community services can be any volunteering work at public institutions such as retirement homes, local shelters, child welfare centers or animal shelters. Volunteering could also be anything as simple as teaching younger kids or organizing study groups to help out peers with lessons.
Community service promotes social skills like empathy, communication and problem-solving skills that are crucial while being part of a community. They also foster a sense of social responsibility and gratitude.
Consult with your child on various options of volunteering like fundraising, food drive or volunteering at community centers. This may help parents like you to help your child learn about causes where they want to contribute passionately towards.
#6 Virtual Pen Pals
Virtual pen pals are individuals who communicate with each other over the internet, usually through email or messaging platforms, without meeting in person. There are reputable pen pal programs for middle schoolers available online that allows them to create a profile and browse through profiles, start a conversation with a fellow user based on shared hobbies & interests. Parents can assist in finding safe platforms and ensuring supervised communication.
Pen pals expose students to diverse perspectives, fostering cultural awareness, open-mindedness and empathy. This practice prepares them for future relationships, both online and in person.
#7 Emotion Charade
This is a home activity that parents can play with their children and the entire family. Write down some words related to emotions and feelings on small slips of paper. Put all the paper slips in a bowl and shuffle. Take turns picking the chits and acting out the emotion written on the paper. This is one way to teach kids and bring awareness on various emotions one could feel and learn how one tends to express them.
Social Skills Activities for Personal Development
Self expression, coping skills, resilience, emotion regulation and self reflection are some of the social emotional skills for personal and emotional growth. Even though these skills appear to be directed towards self growth, they have lasting impact on one's behavior in social settings. Below are some activities to promote social and emotional intelligence in adolescents.
#8 Check in Journals
Gift your middle schooler a check in a journal where they can log in their thoughts and feelings everyday. This simple everyday activity helps them become more aware of themselves and keep a check of their emotions on a day to day basis.
Create a space for your child to come up to you for open discussion about their feelings and thoughts. Engage in open minded conversation with your child, offer support, list down all the possible solutions they can seek help to navigate their emotions.
#9 Create a Safe Space
Encourage your child to explore music or art forms that inspire positive coping skills and induce happiness in them. This is a proactive measure to help tweens and teens deal with anxiety and stress.
Parents can facilitate exploration of stimulus that can lead their child to discover self calming strategies. These self calming strategies not only help regulate emotion but also hones emotional intelligence much early on in their lives.
Reading fosters middle schoolers' social and emotional skills, particularly self-awareness. A character's journey may prompt self-reflection, aiding your child to comprehend their own beliefs and emotions. Reading stories where the characters experience challenges and fears similar to theirs may help them to cope and overcome difficult circumstances. Reading could also instill mindfulness, improving attention and self-awareness.
In our experience, engaging in after school activities has proven to have a positive impact in overall development of the child from academic performance, communication skills to personal growth. At Crimson Rise, we strive towards helping our students achieve their dream with a strong focus on social & personal skill development. Browse through our student experiences to learn more about how we have helped our students improve their school skills with activities curated as per their needs.
Understanding the importance of social skills, creating a nurturing environment, and implementing activities targeted at improving social skills are some positive steps towards empowering your child to thrive in any social setting. Speak with our experts at Crimson Rise to learn more about how we could help you choose social skill activities that suit your child’s overall academic and personal growth.