Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Editorial Team
UNICEF in its 2012 report has called ‘social skills’ a life skill, that is, skills that help individuals to display an adaptive attitude towards the demands and challenges that life often throws at all of us.
Social skills like cooperation, assertion, self-control, empathy, and responsibility are observable indicators of social competence, that help individuals live a better life by impacting important domains of development like mental health and academic achievement as well as overall personality development.
Hence, such social skills are extremely important for children to learn and grasp at an early age If the child is deprived of these skills from early days, it takes a massive toll on their personal and professional lives as adults.
Moreover, when a child is made aware of a particular set of skills right from the very beginning, they tend to soak it up much better. And that is the reason why social skill activities should be encouraged from the middle school level itself.
Before knowing about some extremely crucial activities that influence and develop a child’s social skills, let us know some benefits of these activities and why they are so important, especially from the middle school level.
Benefits of social skills activities for middle school children
The ability to read emotions, be friendly, communicate better, and much more are a few social skills that a child can acquire over time. These skills can be advantageous and can be the footprint of the child’s future as an adult.
Parents and teachers can indeed be the ideal role models, and kids can learn as they watch the adults around them closely, behaving in certain ways. However, it is rightly said that there is nothing like practice. Therefore, kids should be involved in activities that help them grasp and practice these social skills religiously to benefit them in the future, both on the personal and professional levels.
Social skills activities help middle school students in –
- Academic achievement
- Social Interactions
- Self-confidence and attitude about self
- Attitude and empathy towards others
- Conduct at home, school, and in the community
- Promotes positive behavior
- Maintaining eye contact
These are some advantages that truly help middle school students perform better at school and reflect in their adult lives, too. The absence of these skills could tremendously hamper a child’s life as an adult if these social skills do not become part of the child’s behavior and habits.
On this note, let us have a look at some of the social skills activities for middle school that help students in great ways.
Social skills activities for middle school
There are tons of games and activities that can profoundly contribute to a child’s understanding and comprehension of social skills, especially when inculcated right from the middle school level. These are some activities that work well with groups of students, which also help build another social skill: how to work and cooperate in teams.
1. Turn-Wise Games
As adults, individuals must be friendly, socially accepting, and emphatic towards each other. This is something that is extremely necessary during school days too. Middle school students should be taught to welcome a new person with an open mind and open arms. It is normal to be shy around people, but it is also important to be ready to interact with all the people in the group.
Turn-wise games are one activity that can be religiously followed so that children can engage with other children who are total strangers to them. This way, they will also develop a habit of sharing, waiting patiently for the other person, and much more.
2. The Blink and you lose eye contest
An individual who is able to maintain friendly eye contact while having a lengthy conversation comes across as someone who is brimming with warmth and self-confidence. However, children who are introverts or lack self-esteem often find it very hard to maintain eye contact while talking to their peers. In such scenarios, a little practice session disguised as a contest can be very helpful.
Organizing eye-staring contests in your classroom, where the child who is able to maintain the longest eye contact without blinking wins the prize can help the children gain confidence in maintaining eye contact. It also helps break the ice for introverted students who normally do not interact with all their classmates in middle school.
3. Express the Emotions
Understanding emotions and consequent reciprocity is an important foundation of social competence. Emotional charade is an adaption of the well-known game of dumb charade and can be an excellent way to teach the child to both express and understand emotions.
The middle schoolers can be divided into two teams and each individual member can take turns making their team guess the emotion selected by the other team. You can even adapt it into a game of guessing the emotions through drawing on the board or singing a song in a specific tone.
4. Virtual Playtime
The pandemic has shifted socializing to the digital arena and by the looks of it, the trend is here to stay. In this scenario, it is important that students maintain social contact with their peers, and for this purpose, it is a good idea to set a designated time each day for a virtual playtime session.
In these sessions, children can perform group activities like guessing games or dancing sessions which will help them sustain and develop social skills and have verbal interactions with their same-age counterparts.
5. The Conversation starters
This is an activity that must be played in a team by middle school students so that they can derive the maximum possible benefit from it. The simple rule of the game is that the student or the child will be given a topic or a word, and they need to start a conversation or a dialogue about the topic or the word given.
We cannot emphasize enough what wonders this game could do to the child’s overall social and behavioral development. Firstly, it helps students overcome their fear of speaking, making them more confident as adults.
Moreover, since this game is about speaking on a given topic in front of the whole group, the shyness and the hitch that the child has at first diminishes slowly. Ultimately, the social skill of being friendly, conversational, and confident is achieved. Through this activity, children also learn how to lead a conversation in a dignified and empathetic manner.
6. Simon Says
Self-control is an essential social skill. Children with a lack of self-control mostly portray the same habits during their adult life. This game helps the student listen and copy the movements of their peers and follow instructions. This activity helps the children in many great ways as they are made to follow the rules throughout the game.
7. Gauge the Facial Expressions
Games that demand children to read and understand the facial expressions of others have a great effect on them, as they are made to interpret the expressions of their peers. This way, they learn to be more expressive and also develop a habit of reading the expressions of other students, which makes them more empathetic and helpful toward each other in the long run.
Games can play a significant role in the lives of middle school students by enriching their social skill set without consciously pressurizing them to fit into a stereotypical mold that hampers their individualistic expression and growth.
These social skills set thus act as safety nets on their rendezvous with tough and awkward situations which they are bound to encounter both in their personal and professional lives when they become adults. It helps them bounce back with a zealous spirit and determined demeanor.
- Mari-Anne Sørlie, Kristine Amlund Hagen & Kristin Berg Nordahl (2021) Development of social skills during middle childhood: Growth trajectories and school-related predictors, International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, 9:sup1, S69-S87, DOI: 10.1080/21683603.2020.1744492
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,