Understanding and Improving People Skills in Virtual School
Growing children develop more skills than we can count. But each child has a few skills that shine more brightly than others. One child might be active and adventurous outdoors, showing strong “nature smarts” and “body smarts.” Another child might be more bookish and introspective, demonstrating natural “word smarts” and “self-smarts.”
Although children have a mix of skills in every area, one of the most important skills they develop is “people smarts.” Also known as interpersonal intelligence or people skills, people smarts determine how a child interacts with everyone—whether friends, strangers, teachers, or family.
What Is Interpersonal Intelligence?
“Interpersonal intelligence” is a term that psychologist Howard Gardner used when he introduced his theory of multiple intelligences. Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to relate to other people. In Gardner’s theory, it’s also considered a learning style. It’s helpful to understand interpersonal intelligence as social skills—something that everyone can learn and improve.
People skills are developed through interaction, observation, and discussion. Although virtual school students don’t interact face-to-face with their peers each day, there are plenty of other ways for them to socialize.
If your child is young, look for everyday opportunities to develop his or her social abilities. With practice, your child should learn to:
- Maintain a phone conversation with a relative.
- Greet and chat with a neighbor.
- Handle a simple transaction at a familiar store.
- Make small-talk with a new acquaintance.
- Interact appropriately during a playdate with some friends.
- Be polite and speak clearly to the server at a restaurant.
As your children grow and mature, they can expand their repertoire of social skills to do the following:
- Handle a more complex transaction at a new or unfamiliar store.
- Place the family’s takeout order on the phone.
- Address conflicts appropriately and politely, including apologizing and accepting apologies.
- Initiate and schedule an appointment (such as with a doctor or dentist) or a get-together with a friend or relative.
By learning these important social skills early on, your child can learn to feel confident and enjoy social interactions. These interactions also form a solid foundation for building more meaningful relationships with others. Over time, children can expand their interpersonal intelligence by teaching others, developing their listening skills, and learning how to mediate conflicts with others.
Building Interpersonal Skills in Clubs and Activities
Virtual school students practice social skills in their regularly scheduled phone calls with teachers. In addition to these phone calls and virtual classes (LiveLesson® sessions), participating in clubs often provides opportunities to learn and fine-tune interpersonal skills. A few clubs that encourage social interaction are:
- Book Club
- Broadcast and Theater Arts Club
- Chess Club
- Debate Club
- Leadership and Global Awareness Club
- Pen Pal Club
Virtual school students with people smarts will also enjoy activities and special events, field trips, and collaborative creative projects. In the community, students can develop their interpersonal skills by participating in sports, summer camps, local organizations, and volunteer activities.
We’d like to hear what you have to say about developing people skills in virtual school. Share your story below.