Why developing social skills is important for young children

In this article we look at the importance of developing a range of social skills from a young age, to equip children with the skills they’ll need later in life.

  • 03 May 2024

One of the most important skills for young children to learn is how to socialise and get along with other people. While the focus is often on more academic skills, like language and maths, or even physical growth and motor skills, social skills help set children up for life.

The way we socialise and interact with others, be it with family, friends, colleagues, peers and others, will impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Social skills help children to form positive relationships, have conversations, develop body language, cooperate, share and even play together.

Having well developed social skills also leads to improved mental capacity and cognitive abilities, as well as good overall mental health. In this article we look at the importance of developing a range of social skills from a young age, to equip children with the skills they’ll need later in life.

Learning through playing together

Children learn by observing others, listening, exploring and of course, by asking lots of questions. In childcare and kindergarten settings, children have a wide range of opportunities to develop valuable social skills through spontaneous experiences and structured learning. For many children, attending a long day care or kindergarten will be their first ongoing experience interacting with children outside of their own family.

Being able to interact and play with both children their own age and those older and younger is important for children’s social development. Through play with children their own age and older, children develop important skills in problem solving, resolving conflict, sharing, kindness and empathy. With younger children, they have the opportunity to develop leadership and responsibility skills, and adopt a mentoring role.

It is wonderful to see children develop and form new friendships, especially as the older children show newcomers around and introduce them to other children.

Preparing for the transition to school

The transition to school is a big moment for children and well-developed social skills help make the transition smooth. Social skills developed during their time in long day care and kindergarten help children build confidence, become more self-reliant and independent, and boost their overall self-esteem.

To support this transition, the educators at Catholic Early EdCare facilitate mixing with children at nearby schools. This can include joining them for outdoor games, visiting the library together or being partnered with senior students as buddies. There are also opportunities to meet the teachers and hear about school so when the time comes, children will feel well prepared with the social skills they need to make the move to prep.

Being an active community member

Understanding how they fit into their wider community is an important part of children’s social development. Being active in the community, mixing with older people and understanding what’s happening in the local area all contribute to building social skills.

At some services the educators at Catholic Early EdCare facilitate relationships with nearby aged care services. The children visit the elderly residents and talk to them about their lives and experiences. When visiting in person is not possible, the children are engaging through letter writing, drawing pictures and sending photos and cards.

How children develop socially and learn to develop relationships with others will impact on many aspects of their lives. It’s important children develop a range of social skills that set them up for life, from making friends and forming positive relationships, to building confidence, learning empathy and conflict resolution, social skills are one of the most important skills for young children to develop.

At Catholic Early EdCare, we help your child to grow socially every day. The early years of education and care are the foundation for every child’s future. To find out more about how your child will grow socially in our care, visit our website.