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Peer Status in the Classroom: Improving Social Skills

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/2/2012

Some children do not have the traits to be a social butterfly in the classroom or in any group setting for that matter. Here we will look at several types of students in the classroom as well as how to improve social skills of students.

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    Peer Status

    Developmental Psychologists have categorized four different types of peer statuses. These statuses are popular children, neglected children, rejected children, and controversial children. (Santrock, 2004) Many children prefer to have the “popular status" as the popular students are more likely to be nominated for class leadership roles, more likely to have plenty of friends, and more likely than not to be a voice amongst his or her peers. It is very rare for a popular child to be disliked and they tend to be the leader in the group settings. Characteristics of popular children include high self-esteem and traits which allow for them to feel self-confident but not arrogant.

    Although neglected children do not have many best friends or friends in general they are still not “disliked" by their peers or schoolmates. Instead rejected students are the children who are often disliked and have very few if not no friends in class. More serious adjustment issues come along with rejected children. These adjustment issues can lead to aggression, impulsive behavior, and disruption in class. Controversial students get the best of both worlds. These types of students are equally liked and disliked in the classroom.

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    Improving Social Skills

    So what can teachers and educational staff do to help improve the student social skills?

    Here are some tips for improving social skills:

    • Arrange students in a way to help small groups interact with each other. For instance place kids who would not normally talk “at lunch" in the same groups in the classroom. Check out arrangement ideas here.
    • Ensure that students know and understand proper etiquette in the classroom. This can include no fighting, no cursing, no insulting, respects what others have to say, respect property of others, have consideration, do not gossip, and do not embarrass other students.
    • Try introducing supportive games into the classroom. Also keep peer relation/bullying books at hand in the classroom. Try to integrate all of the social techniques you may learn into your own curriculum.