Essential Social Skills for Kindergarten Success

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! The expectations are new, and some of the social interactions are new, especially for students who didn’t attend pre-Kindergarten programs. We want kids to share, take turns, make transitions, and so much more (all while learning new academic concepts as well). To help kids make the transition, we practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success!

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success.

Kindergarten Social Skills

1 – Sharing

This Kindergarten social skill probably seems like a given, but it’s so important for Kindergarten success! Students spend a lot of time in free play with their peers and working alongside one another. Sharing toys and sharing materials is a must. Click here to read more about a sharing activity I do in my social skills group.

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!

2 – Taking Turns

Taking turns goes hand in hand with sharing, but there’s a distinct difference that many incoming Kindergarteners don’t know just yet. When we’re sharing, we have common materials that are available to everyone at the same time. For example, students might be sharing a box of Legos while they all build independently or together.

When we’re taking turns, one person is using an item or items while another person waits. For example, students might take turns using the swing. Or they might take turns reading a particular book. This is when students might need specific instruction on waiting strategies while they wait for their turn!

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success.

3 – Accepting No

Newsflash: sometimes kids will hear no, especially at school. Sometimes, they might ask for a turn with something and someone might say no. Or they may want to do something in the classroom and hear a no from a teacher. Accepting no is another important Kindergarten social skill! We can teach kids calming strategies to use in the moment when they experience disappointment, frustration, or anger over a no answer.

4 – Listening & Following Directions

Listening and following directions are huge skills for not just Kindergarten success, but school success as a whole – and we end up teaching this way beyond Kindergarten sometimes! First, we teach kids what listening actually looks and feels like in their bodies. Eyes on the speaker, body still, mouth closed, hands empty, and ears ready to listen. Our bodies feel calm, open, and in anticipation!

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!

Of course, listening has to come before following directions! And lots of directions will be coming to them. Some of our students may need a little extra instruction & practice following one-, two- and multi-step directions that they will undoubtedly receive in the classroom.

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success.

5 – Following Rules

Following rules probably also seems like a given, but this doesn’t just apply to school rules. Kids will have the freedom to play with one another during recess. Following game and social rules will be a learning experience for many Kindergarteners, and they may need explicit instruction in social rules. We practice this by playing games, changing rules to familiar games, and talking about how we feel when others don’t follow the rules.

6 – Stating Needs

Need some personal space? Ask for it with words. Need help? Let an adult know. That phrase “use your words,” comes up a lot in Kindergarten, but sometimes our newest students need explicit instruction in this because they don’t have the words yet. Practicing asking for a break, some space, or help is big for Kindergarten success!

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!

7 – Transitioning Activities

It’s hard to stop doing something we enjoy and move on to something else – even for some adults! We can help students tune in to transition signals like teacher reminders, visual calendars, and timers so that they aren’t surprised by transitions. And when it is hard to move on, we can use some of those calming strategies we use to deal with no responses too.

8 – Being Flexible

Not getting what we want is hard. But being able to accept alternatives, roll with changes, and accept mistakes are all important Kindergarten social skills! Setting up an accepting and safe classroom environment where upcoming changes are communicated and mistakes are welcomed is key!

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!

What other Kindergarten social skills do you focus on during the first semester? What are your favorite games to teach these skills? Get my Kindergarten Social Skills Curriculum here.

Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!
Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!
Kindergarten is a big transition for kids! Practice these 8 Kindergarten social skills that contribute to school and social success. These social skills activities are perfect for Kindergarten and first grade school counseling groups. Social skills group counseling activities for kids!

4 thoughts on “Essential Social Skills for Kindergarten Success

  1. I love this post Keri! Thank you! The posters you have pictured here are so helpful. Do you sell these posters somewhere? Thank you!

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