Thursday, November 15, 2007

Who should teach our kids good manners?

Researchers have found that 10 basic social skills such as taking turns, listening and simply being nice are just as important to children's academic success as the subjects they study, and that students can and should be learning these skills in the classroom.

"If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn't mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning"
Stephen Elliott, Vanderbilt Peabody education and psychology researcher and co-author of the newly published The Social Skills Improvement System--Classwide Intervention Program, said.
"In our research, we found that elementary kids and teachers value cooperation and self-control. When we teach and increase those behaviors, we reduce problem behaviors and maximize learning time."


Elliott and co-author Frank Gresham identified the top 10 skills that students need to succeed based on surveys of over 8,000 teachers and over 20 years of research in classrooms across the country. They are:

1. Listen to others
2. Follow the steps
3. Follow the rules
4. Ignore distractions
5. Ask for help
6. Take turns when you talk
7. Get along with others
8. Stay calm with others
9. Be responsible for your behavior
10. Do nice things for others

They outline a program for teachers to implement training for kids to learn these skills. But what about parents? Shouldn't this stuff be taught WAY before the kids get to school? Teachers have to worry about fitting in regular classroom curriculum, and shouldn't have to take time away from teaching academic classes to teach basic, everyday good manners. Shouldn't we, as parents, begin teaching this to our kids when they're in high chairs? You know, "Don't hit, don't interrupt, use your inside voice, play nice", etc.? I don't know, but I think all the political correctness of letting kids be kids, don't discipline too harshly or they'll be scarred for life, etc., has contributed to the poor state of education today. Kids should be taught at an early age what the rules are for behavior, so that when they get to school they can focus on academic success.