Category Archives: life skills

Review of “The Smart Kid’s Guide To” Books

One of the issues I sometimes see when working with clients, and saw when teaching kindergarten, is nonverbal and social skill weaknesses.

Social skills are largely based upon nonverbal understanding and hidden societal rules.

These skills and concepts may be difficult for children who have varying exceptionalities or who are English language learners. Social and nonverbal communication skills can help you make friends or cause you to be alienated from potential friends.

That’s why it’s extremely important for kids to have practice with social skills and learn how to understand nonverbal communication cues in their culture as well as when getting to know people from cultures outside of the child’s culture.

I recently happened upon a fantastic set of books which I find really help with nonverbal communication and social awareness. The “Smart Kid’s Guide To” series contains explicit instruction, examples, scripts for practice, and has photographs to assist in understanding.

 

I highly encourage tutors, teachers, and parents to use these books in conjunction with everyday situations to help children understand how society expects them to behave and how to read situations, then respond in a socially appropriate way.

 

 

Using one example script per day can open up a dialog for how to respond to others as well as how responses may vary, yet still be socially acceptable. This is also a great way to foster emotional learning and empathy.

 

It’s okay to be different than someone else, have different interests, and to prefer time on your own. It’s also a good idea to understand social cues so we can respond in a useful way so we can make connections when we want to and grow our village of support. Our kids need that, too, and these books help tremendously.

Teaching Customer Service Skills

Many of my clients who leave public school to homeschool have told me there is less life skills education in their public schools as STEM and other ideals take over.

I have nothing against STEM, focusing on core academics, and other educational philosophies such as these. However, I see the issue with students graduating without life skills such as cooking, money management, and preparation for the workforce. 

It has become necessary for parents to make sure their children learn life skills so they will succeed in adulthood.

 

Teaching customer service skills is a great place to begin. Encourage role-playing games when children are young. Move on to yard sales and other odd jobs. Eventually, teens will be able to hold their own part-time job and practice consistently in a real-world setting.

Skill: Patience and Calm

Encourage children to handle disappointment and rudeness with calm and patience. Practice how to react when someone insults you in a work setting and how to handle this stress. Getting a supervisor or excusing oneself for a moment then coming back with a solution may help.

Skill: Compromise

Have your children practice finding compromises. Give them examples of situations they may encounter and ask how they think these issues ought to be handled, especially when a customer is irritated due to a long wait or poor service prior to meeting you.

Skill: Make It Right

Consider ways to solve customer unhappiness due to mistakes by the business or a delay in products or services. Practice scenarios which put your children in the position of a manager who is dealing with an employee’s mistake and must smooth things over with a customer.

Skill: Communication

After sitting in school and asking for permission to answer questions or go to the bathroom, students are often not prepared for communication and decision-making with a variety of customers with different ages, abilities, and needs. Practicing effective communication, including communicating with those who have special needs, is paramount to customer service success. Learn about varying needs, how to successfully communicate even if that means learning American Sign Language or finding an interpreter.

Skill: Time Management

Those who work in service and retail industries must be able to start and stop projects, change gears, then get back to the projects. Sometimes stocking has to happen, yet there is a line of customers to be checked out. It is important to prioritize, work quickly, and stay focused on each task while remembering the rest of the “To Do” list for the day. The ability to multi-task is highly important.

Skill: Strong Work Ethic

Working is not easy. Working in a field which includes customer service adds to the potential stress. Many times frustration makes people want to quit. It is important to teach our children to work through the stress, take breaks when needed, and help co-workers when they need a break. With support of co-workers and resilience, tough situations won’t keep our children from sticking with a job. Instead of quitting the first time things get tough, they will persevere and learn coping skills which will help them in all facets of life.

Whether we homeschool, unschool, or choose brick and mortar schools, customer service skills are necessary skills for our children to learn. We may have to work on these skills at home, then encourage our teens to get jobs. Early practice of these skills sets our children up for success in adulthood.