Ready for School: Social skills are key to success

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KING5.com

Posted on August 30, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 9:50 AM

At Van Asselt Elementary School in South Seattle, faces beam with excitement. After all, it's graduation day and the students rule as the queens and kings of kindergarten, with enough pomp and circumstance to make a parent proud.

They leave kindergarten behind and officially move on to first grade knowing how to read, write, and do arithmetic.

But when the graduating class of 2009 first walked into Stephanie McPhail's room, she didn't expect them to be bookworms or know how to count past 10.

Throughout the year, she would teach them those skills.

What McPhail expected, and wants from students starting kindergarten, is the ability to listen, follow directions, and interact with others.

"Social skills are a huge component. If you can provide play dates for your child and other opportunities for them to socialize with younger children their age. Sharing is another important aspect parents can work on with their child," she said.

When kindergarten teachers throughout Washington were asked if they thought students entering kindergarten were prepared, 50 percent answered "no" and they said what students lacked most were social and emotional skills.?

"Often times it's the catch-up game for a lot of these students to get to the point where they feel comfortable and competent in school," said McPhail.

A child coming to kindergarten able to manage their emotions and make friends has a much higher chance of doing well in school and graduating, not just from kindergarten, but high school, even college.

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