recently published this article on Kindergarten social skills as indicators of later success in college and jobs:

Every year in class, we make a solid effort to establish a foundation of mutual respect, trust and independence.  The kids have the knowledge, empathy and drive within them to do amazing things, and it is our responsibility to guide them but also give them the freedom to learn by making mistakes and testing boundaries (which can be very challenging for us adults!).  Some kids have their moral compass set–they understand social contexts and cues, how to work in a group, how to share and cooperate with others and even how to not share gracefully and still exist within a classroom community in harmony with others.  These social skills prove to be vital to success.

If we think about factors in our own life, both from when we were kids and now as adults, that contribute to our motivation to work hard and accomplish goals, we can see how true it is that social skills are perhaps more important than cognitive.

I have seen, with countless kiddos, that these social skills are vitally important–and equally so are the abilities to focus and work hard.

Alfie Kohn, an expert on human behavior, wrote the book Punished by Rewards, as well as many others.  Punished by Rewards discusses the inverse power of praise and how it can decrease intrinsic motivation.  He emphasizes that, with children, we adults should acknowledge ‘hard work’ versus doing a ‘good job’ since hard work is something that is within one’s locus of control.

The internal skills of focus and hard work in harmony with social skills like cooperation, leadership, empathy and understanding social contexts and cues may, in fact, be a recipe for success.  Not just in school or work, but perhaps even more importantly, in finding fulfillment and happiness in life.


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