What an incredible year! We have been fortunate to have classes return in person this term and the overall positive impact it has had for our students has been enormous. Students and teachers being in the same room, looking over work together, speaking to each other in the moment has had great educational benefits, which we will never take for granted again.
That is not to say there haven’t been bumps in the road.
The pandemic and resulting lockdown reduced the ability to practice some core community skills – face to face communication and social interaction.
These skills are so important. Industry prizes these skills – communication, conflict resolution, organisation, resilience, empathy, self-management and social awareness – as they are key to an individual being successful. These skills are even outlined in the Victorian Curriculum and you will find them assessed in your child’s report: these areas are
- Personal and Social Capability
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Ethical Capability
- Intercultural Capability*
This isn’t far off for your child. Many adolescents tend to start applying for jobs when they are turning 15 years old. I’ve had conversations with your children – many are thinking about their first job already such as Kmart, McDonald’s or a supermarket.
Social skills are important – and just like any skill requires time and practice to improve. Sometimes it may be difficult to break down a skill into the parts to teach it and sometimes we may think that it is something that children should be able to know instinctively. Sometimes we think they might be able to learn through trial and error, or just through watching adults and peers.
However some of the best learning comes from setting clear goals with clear success criteria, and reflecting afterwards with what went well and what could have been done differently.
I encourage all families to find opportunities to take your child through healthy and respectful social interactions. Identify times when you can talk about how a social interaction should play out – what respect or politeness or words or actions might be relevant. Find times to talk with your child after an interaction – for instance if they have an argument with their sibling, what could they have done or said differently that could have led to a different outcome?
School and home are the best learning and practice grounds for social skills. Together we can help your child reach their full potential as strong members of their community.
(*You can find further information about the Victorian Curriculum here: https://victoriancurriculum.vcaa.vic.edu.au/)