The softer side of school

Learning social skills like friendship and teamwork are part of the softer side of school.

Learning social skills like friendship and teamwork are part of the softer side of school.

Schools use words like “rigorous curriculum” and “strict standards” to describe the program your child receives in his or her school day.  The teachers are held to “high standards of accountability” and each piece of the curriculum is taught with “fidelity.” So, why are children still struggling?

School is about much more than mastering the subject matter. A child can learn to read well, conquer difficult math problems, and even document important scientific observations.  But there is another, more important part of the school curriculum that parents themselves must teach. I call this part the “softer side” of school.

The “softer side” are those skills that involve the ability to participate, to share and to get along with others. Academics are highly prized, but so are cooperation, compassion, and an ability to work together to solve a problem.

So, how do children learn these things? Well, mom, dad, grandma, uncle, neighbor…they learn these things from us! They watch as we hold doors for one another. They see us gather with friends to paint an elderly neighbor’s house. They hear us talk about hungry families in our community and learn as we involve them in picking out cans of food for the local food pantry. They see us smile at others as we walk past, and greet our friends with a hug or a hearty handshake. They see us finish our projects no matter how long or how difficult they are. And they see us ask for help when we need it.

As the weather cools, and we spend more time indoors together, take time to build those skills in your child that will make him not only a good student, but a compassionate person. Create some family projects, volunteer in the community together, or participate in activities in your local place of worship. These softer skills, along with your child’s growing academics, will help him build a successful future and make the community a more positive place for us all.

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