“Remember you have to share” - Growing children's social competance

How do teachers grow childrenʼs social competence?

“Remember you have to share”, “Use your words” and  “We donʼt hit around here” - are we really helping children when these practiced phrases spill forth smoothly form our lips as we rush on to the next group of children? I think our intentions are sound - to support children to work things out, think for themselves and become independently self-regulated. Yet I think we can do better.

Itʼs spring and I wonder how much time and effort might  be going into producing daffodils, fluffy lambs and tissue blossoms? What about the real stuff? What about the issues that affect children such as fairness, friendships, rights and rules? How much time is spent on ensuring social competence and social literacy is foregrounded and embedded into everyday conversations and happenings? Itʼs easy to plan an art activity around making daffodils. Itʼs not so easy to engage in deep discussions about what really matters. When a child is feeling hurt and upset brushing over issues with predetermined phrases like “We are all friends here”
wonʼt do it.

We might think we have ʻdealt with itʼ but underlying will still be the hurt and the impact this has. Some children will be learning ʻIt is ok for me to hurt othersʼ, some children will be learning ʻAn adult wonʼt help meʼ, and some children will be learning, ʻWe only have to be nice while a teacher is in the roomʼ. More worrying still is that children will learn that the culture of this place allows one person to hurt another - physically or emotionally.

Itʼs about relationships... read more

It starts with teachers... read more

Read full article PDF

Alison Brierley is a Project Facilitator of the Educational Leadership Project (Ltd), a provider of professional
development for early childhood teachers in New Zealand.
For more information visit the website:

Brierley, A. (2011). “Remember You Have to Share” - How Do Teachers Grow Childrenʼs Social Competence? R e t r i e v e d  f r o m :


Kirsty @ Bowerbird Blue said...

I have to be guilty of using some of those catch phrases at times, but agree a deeper discussion is far more helpful. I think people sometimes underestimate how much children can understand and take in. I like the term social literacy, what an essential life skill.

Arborland Montessori said...

This is a thought provoking article. As a Montessori teacher I am always wanting to learn more to further my education to remain current. Will share this at my weekly meeting. Thank you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...