Part One: Relationship Skills
There’s no question—we learn with others and by observing, listening, and trying to do what others do. We react or respond to others and the world we are in. You play a crucial role in a child’s learning environment. Children of all ages benefit from understanding more about their feelings and growing their social-emotional learning (SEL) skills. SEL skills help us understand our emotions as well as allow us to guide our responses and demonstrate empathy for others. You are the model for a child’s social-emotional learning, and you may be modeling this behavior without even realizing it!
The Importance of Social-Emotional Learning
Trust, safety, and acceptance are vital at every age and stage. Having these foundational pillars makes learning, playing, and exploring possible now and in the future. Without them, children’s abilities and talents will not thrive as well. The CDC’s ACEs studies reveal how not managing trauma with SEL strategies can cut years from our life expectancy and certainly reduce one’s quality of life.
Children who engage in social-emotional learning develop empathy, interpersonal and relationship skills, and self-control. Children need to be in relationships to learn and positive relationships make a huge difference for the adult as well as the child. As adults, our role is to support and guide them through the process. One person’s trust and belief in a child is so much of what it takes.
The Five Core CASEL Competencies
Nearly three decades ago, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) brought social-emotional learning to the education world. (Link to CASEL HERE)
To help people understand what SEL is, why it’s important, and how it works, CASEL developed a framework known as the CASEL Wheel. The CASEL wheel includes five core competencies that may be taught and used from childhood through adulthood:
- Social awareness
- Relationship skills
- Responsible decision-making
Lemberg Cloud has materials to support your child’s competency with social-emotional learning. To give each competency the focus it deserves, we will separate this information into three articles, the first of which is about relationship skills. We will cover each one in detail, including why they are essential and how to teach and model them at home.
What Are Relationship Skills?
CASEL defines relationship skills as the ability to form supportive and healthy relationships with a diverse group of individuals, along with navigating through a variety of social situations. The skills related to relationships are further deconstructed into simpler sections, such as active listening, effective communication, cooperating, and collaborating.
Active Listening: Paying Attention on Purpose
There’s a big difference between active listening and listening. When you’re actively listening, you’re aware of what the other person says to you. You’re not thinking of your response or waiting for your turn to speak—you’re paying full attention to the speaker.
This careful listening includes watching movements for additional clues to what’s being said or felt. When you notice your child’s attention wandering while someone is speaking, as a parent and caregiver, you may be tempted to remind them to be better listeners. In our materials, we call attention to what you do and what model you provide to your child, as you call attention to your behavior. Your child will learn a lot from observing how you actively listen, how you pay attention to others, and how you cite how you are doing this, or wish to do this. Listening is a skill that must be learned and takes time and effort.
When a child doesn’t know the difference between listening and active listening and you see your child’s attention wander, it’s a clue for you to consider how best to acknowledge the child’s active listening when you see it. Often when we call attention to the child’s “not listening”, we discourage the skill, they may become confused and shut down communication. After all, to them, they were listening.
Active Listening At Home
All of the rings, dings, and notifications may be helpful to us throughout the day but are distracting while we communicate. We aren’t actively listening when talking with our children while checking email or sending text messages. We’ll most likely respond with an “I’m sorry, could you repeat what you said?” Our brains are not capable of multitasking, although they are good at tricking us into believing we are.
The foundation of every healthy relationship is built on communication. When you want to create a great relationship with another person, you need to be able and willing to listen carefully. Active listening demonstrates that you respect the person speaking, that what they have to say is valuable, and that they are important to you.
Communication is one of the key skills to succeed in life. You communicate in so many ways. Being an engaged listener, paying attention to non-verbal signs, and controlling your emotions is necessary for communication.
Body language and tone of voice matter too. Body language is the non-verbal communication used to interact with others using your body and movement. It can include facial expressions, hand gestures, and posture. The tone of voice is how you speak in a conversation that conveys emotions such as happiness or sadness through pitch changes in speech patterns without saying anything specific about what you are feeling at the moment.
Cooperation and Collaboration Are Key to Forming a Great Team
Although collaboration and cooperation seem similar, they are actually two different things, each affecting how teams work together in a big way. When teams come together, it combines their energies, knowledge, ideas, and communication into something extraordinary.
People collaborate when they work together towards a common goal. One example is a teacher and student working together to create a birthday card for a loved one.
However, when a group of people works together to support another person’s goals, they cooperate. The main difference between cooperation and collaboration is that cooperation implies ownership by one person, while collaboration implies ownership by more than one individual or the team itself.
Eleven At-Home Social-Emotional Learning Activities for Relationship Skills
- Listen to stories together on Lemberg Cloud! Here are just a few to get you started: Toddler Read Alouds and Preschool Read Alouds.
- Children enjoy listening to stories and getting lost in them by using their imaginations. When reading with your child, keep them intrigued by asking them questions. It’s important to ask your child questions about things they’re familiar with so they can participate in the conversation. Open-ended questions such as: “What do you think is going to happen next?”, “What character would you like to meet in real life?” or “What was the big problem in this book, and how did the characters solve it?” are just a few examples to keep them engaged.
- Cooking with your child is another excellent way to display and improve listening skills. Following a recipe is beneficial since it not only provides instructions, but the yummy result will reveal that you both have effectively communicated and listened.
- When communicating with your child, start by giving them your full attention to model this behavior. You might not even realize you’re not “fully present” in a conversation and catch yourself preoccupied with what you’re going to say next.
- You can help your child develop collaborative working skills in many ways, starting with listening. Teamwork is about listening to each other’s thoughts. A fun activity is Pass the Story. It begins with one person saying, “Once upon a time…” and the next person continues with the story. The story continues to be passed back and forth until you and your little storyteller have had enough or have come up with your perfect ending.
- Teaching your child to ask questions when confused is one of the most important things to teach them. Confusion and feeling left behind in a collaborative team environment can make anyone feel flustered, including your child. It’s imperative that your child feels safe enough to ask questions to get the clarity they need.
- Some children might feel the urge to take charge in a group setting or conversely shy away, although they have wonderful things to add. Children can learn how to work together in social situations by playing I Spy or taking turns with building blocks.
- Playing board games with your child can help them grasp the concept of really cooperating in a social environment. These games can help develop critical thinking, strategy development, and problem-solving skills while improving social interaction and communication between players of all ages.
- Setting the table and putting together puzzles are great opportunities for you and your child to bond while completing an activity together.
- Encourage your child to take the time needed to solve a problem. Overcoming a challenge will allow your child to feel confident in themselves for the next time they need to problem-solve.
- Play is how children learn, explore, and develop their skills—both cognitively and socially. Set aside time each day to play with your child. Make it fun and be creative! Try different games, go outside, or build something together.
Supporting Families, Caregivers, and Educators
Lemberg Cloud is an online space for children, caregivers, and educators to access educational resources, play games, and more. Children can explore the world of digital media with age-appropriate content in a safe and secure environment without commercials.
Our platform offers parents peace of mind knowing that the content in this space is kid-friendly, safe, and based on age and interest. Lemberg Cloud classes are complimentary during our launch—please enjoy and explore!