In order to create a structured learning environment that encourages positive social interactions among all students, you must incorporate a few teaching strategies into your daily routine: Teaching strategies such as implementing classroom jobs, carving out time for students to just interact and play, and utilizing learning centers are all great ways to encourage positive social interaction among students. Here we’ll take a closer look at how the teaching strategies mentioned can help foster a classroom atmosphere where all students interact with one another in a more positive manner.
Teaching Strategies to Promote Social Interaction
To increase the likelihood of your students interacting with one another in a positive manner, you must incorporate a few teaching strategies. Here are a few teacher-tested ways that encourage positive social interaction among classmates.
Classroom jobs are great for social interaction because they force students to work with one another. As you know, not all students get along, but when they are forced to interact with all different types of people, they must learn how to interact with everyone regardless of if they get along or not. Having the ability to work well with others is a skill that all children need to have. So, the best way to prepare them for the real world is to give them classroom jobs. Here are a few ideas.
Choose two children be the door holders or assign two children to work together to pass out or collect papers. Try and choose two students who normally wouldn’t gravitate toward one another. This will force them to learn to work with students different than themselves. You can also assign your students a job that requires them to interact with the other classmates as well. For example, you can have two students be the morning greeter. One child would welcome their classmate into the classroom by saying “Good morning” and giving them a high five or a handshake, while another child would ask them, “How are you doing today?” These types of jobs require social interaction among all of the students, there is no way around it. Not only is this a positive way to start the day off, but it will also help to build a sense of classroom community.
Free play is an essential part of a child’s development because research shows that it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of a child. It’s not only good for their body and mind, but it’s also great for developing their social skills. Many teachers are inundated with the pressures of having to meet the needs of the curriculum, that they don’t make time for play or leave it for whenever they have a few extra minutes to spare. What happens when you don’t incorporate play into the curriculum is that students tend to lack communication and problem-solving skills. When children play, they learn to work together and figure things out on their own without help from a teacher or an adult. It’s a time when children learn to become leaders, learn how to listen to others, and even learn how to stick up for themselves.
There are many ways that you can incorporate play throughout your day to promote positive student social interaction. You can create a dramatic play area for primary students where they can dress up or learn how to work together to run a grocery store, a veterinarian’s office, or even a hospital. You can use classic board games and change them to suit what students are learning about. For example, you can use the game Candyland to work on site words. All you have to do is attach a site word to each colored card and students must try to say the word when they choose a card. For older students, you can use a deck of cards to have students work together to build a house or play memory. You can even have students work together to build a car out of Lego, then test the velocity of the car. These are just a few of the many ways that you can incorporate play into your day. Be creative and you’ll see results.
Interactive Learning Centers
Interactive learning centers are another teaching strategy that can enhance the likelihood of positive peer social interaction among students. The great thing about learning centers is that they are structured so that students must interact with one another. It doesn’t matter how you set up the center, because students will have to interrelate with one another. There are many options for you can choose from when it comes to creating learning centers. You can have all students work on the same project together, or you can have all students work on the same project alone, but for only one part of the center. Whichever way you choose, students will still be together at a table, which means they will be talking and interacting with one another. The way you structure ultimately it depends on how you want the students to interact with one another.
Enhancing Positive Peer Interaction
The way that you arrange your classroom environment will depend upon if it will enhance positive peer interaction or if it will not. Here are five suggestions to follow to ensure your students have a positive classroom interaction with their peers.
- When grouping students together, keep in mind each child’s unique personalities and characteristics. Some children will benefit more than others to be placed with certain kids. Pair socially competent children with shy children to help them learn how to interact with different types of people.
- Always model and role-play how you should behave while interacting with peers.
- Include materials into learning centers that promote social interaction. Materials like puzzles force students to work together, while worksheets force students to work alone.
- Praise children and give them positive feedback for interacting with their peers in a positive manner. The more they know they are acting appropriately, the more likely they will continue to do so.
- Try and regroup students often to give them a chance to interact with other students. It’s suggested to switch up groups every class or at least once a week.
These teaching strategies will help students develop the skills they need in order to succeed in school, as well as in life. The more opportunities that students have to be exposed to peer interactions, the more they will develop their skills in a positive manner.