Social skills taught at preschool

The Jerusalem municipality offers a service to selected children at preschools to help them improve their social skills, as I just found out today.

Upon my dropping off our daughter at preschool this morning, the head teacher asked to speak with me and told me that she had selected her as one of seven children to meet twice weekly with a specialist to develop her social skills. She handed me a permission slip, which I will be returning signed to the preschool this afternoon.

We can tell, and the teacher confirmed to me this morning, that our child’s social skills are stronger this year than they were the year before. Still, for all of her innate intelligence, she is often awkward around other children, and there are some likely reasons for this.

First of all, as an only child, our daughter spends a disproportionate amount of time with me and her mother, having conversations with us at a fairly high level about complex and sometimes philosophical matters (she’s not quite six-years-old yet). Relatedly, she has an incredibly vivid and active imagination and regularly engages in conversations with her group of imaginary friends who live in her rich, imaginary universe of heroines, heroes, and villains. If other children aren’t interested in hearing her fantasy stories, she dramatically loses interest in playing with them.

Also, she speaks well in three languages and thinks about the intersections between these languages. She thinks about which words have similar and dissimilar meanings in Hebrew, Russian, and English; about which words rhyme; about what letter sounds exist in her three languages; about how some expressions can be translated directly from one language to another, whereas others cannot… This is only my personal perspective, but our daughter seems to often be bored in conversations with other children.

Still, it is abundantly clear that our daughter yearns for meaningful relationships with other children. Whenever we go to the playground, she always expresses a desire to play games with others, but she never quite knows how to initiate interactions with them. She’s not shy; that’s not the problem. But she can’t seem to keep conversations going for long with other children and tends to bore quickly of their children’s games and conversations.

Our preschool teacher is a lovely woman with many years of professional experience in education, and she confirmed and affirmed all of my sentiments. It was difficult, she told me, for her to select only seven of her students for this special program, but she decided to primarily favor those preschoolers who would be entering first grade next year, as she wants them to be maximally prepared for primary school.

In any case, I feel very grateful for our daughter to have this opportunity. I know that socializing with other children is something that she needs to work on for the sake of her happiness; and while I burst with pride in describing her exceptional communication and critical thinking skills, I also worry that these set her awkwardly apart from the majority of her peers.

61 thoughts on “Social skills taught at preschool”

  1. Oh I thoroughly enjoyed sitting back to read the story of your little girl. I could just imagine her in her world with you and her wife and her own wonderland world.
    Amazing little girl, that’s her, who she is, how she was loved and nurtured and I wish her a lovely adventure on the special programme as she ventures into learning how to polish and dust by having fun in her still very young life.

    1. Thanks, Cheryl. Unfortunately we’re going into our THIRD (I’m tempted to write ‘TURD’) lockdown in Israel next week so this, and everything else will be delayed again ๐Ÿ™„


      1. Looks as though we will be going into our 2nd.
        Meanwhile you have a precious daughter, I am just now exploring Philology. It is fascinating. I pitty her peers who must not grasp much of what she says, hence the boredom.

        1. True, but that’s a matter of her upbringing. I speak to her and read to her in English, my wife is the “Russian” parent, and she gets Hebrew by living in Israel.

          That said, we’re blessed that she doesn’t seem to have a learning disability – not every child would be capable of switching back and forth so ably.


          1. Certainly, they wouldn’t. A friend of ours is onto his nth language. He came from occupied Poland and speaks Polish, German, Russian, Italian, Turkish, Italian and English which is the last and least proficient. He is We have some strange conversations with my small German and French. My Latin helps.

      1. No, the eldest. Heโ€™s lived in 3 different countries and speaks 3 different languages, so I guess itโ€™s hard to fit in with the local kids.

              1. We have a funny “accent story” that my daughter loves to share with everyone.

                To understand it, you have to know that the three of us speak the same 3 languages and can hold conversations as a family in more than one language simultaneously. So my daughter will speak in Russian with my wife, and then seamlessly turn to me and speak in English in the same conversation.

                So one time, she was seated between us at the dinner table (it was Shabbat), and she was talking to her mother in Russian, and then she decided that she wanted some bread, which was on the other side of me…

                She turned to me and asked in English: “Can I have some bread please?” Except that because she had been speaking in Russian, she forgot to switch her accent. So it sounded like a Russian speaker making a request in English.

                As soon as the words came out of her mouth, we all laughed (including her) and we started speaking in English with Russian accents and speaking in Russian with American accents… and it became our family’s inside joke.

                But, generally, she doesn’t have an accent in any of her 3 languages because she’s been speaking all of them for as long as she’s been speaking at all. All of the sounds are natural to her, which is really amazing.

    1. I really don’t think she’s a genius (that’s not humility speaking – that’s really my perception)… but, yes, we are definitely thinking about schools and programs that could meet her needs because she’s clearly gifted.

      Thanks, Johndca! โค

    1. We’re very proud of her, for sure… It’s just a matter of being diligent parents and making sure she gets her needs met… and we’re thankful that her preschool teacher is on our team ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. Our daughter sounds similar, she is four though and hasnโ€™t yet started school. Iโ€™m happy to come across this – in case she also needs help interacting with peers. Thank you for sharing ๐Ÿ’›โœจ

      1. Our two children also hung around adults as they grew up to be homeschooled and they are intelligent and they grew up to be more mature for their age. Children adapt pretty good.

  3. She sounds wonderful. And a lot like my eldest, who was an only child for the first twelve years of her life, and so much more comfortable with my adult conversations with her and all the time I spent with her, that it was a challenge to adapt to interactions with other children in school. All the best to you and her, David. She will adapt and learn how to socialize, and I am sure, she will always retain the wonderful “her” she has grown into with her adoring parents.

    1. Thanks, George… may I ask how old your eldest is now? Did you have to seek out special school or extracurricular programs for her on account of her preference for adults?


      1. She is nearly 17 years old now, David, and never really grew into being a very social kid with others her age. Once she hit adolescence, that actually seemed more appropriate in a way, as so many teenagers were going through similar experiences. And now, in the time of Covid, it is even more pronounced in her and many others–physically socializing is a fearful concept. Better to just communicate via a smart phone. Their experiences are so very different from mine at that age. I was already planning where to go next, a move to San Francisco and university and finally overseas. But it seems with many teenagers here now, there are no moves contemplated. No sense of security to live by. Which is quite saddening.

  4. It’s true that knowing how to interact with the (or at least with some of the) other kids will help her manage those relationships better (and not get beaten up!) -sounds like a good program and good teachers.

  5. Interacting meaningfully with one’s peers is just really hard for some people I think. As a child, I always found adults easier and I had two brothers. Your daughter sounds gorgeous and having three languages under her belt so early in life is amazing for her brain. She is surrounded by people who care deeply about her… that much is clear. That (I am beginning to think) is the single most critical thing.

    1. Thanks for your kind response ๐Ÿ™‚

      Actually, it’s interesting that you say that because my wife and I discussed this long ago and agreed that making sure our daughter would be forever secure in our love was our top priority!


  6. Thank you for sharing this David and it seems to me your daughter is in good hands, at her school. I think being an only child might have something to do with her not totally developed social skills. but I also see she has wonderful, intelligent parents who are there for her. I think her age is on he side and with this special help, she will blossom more socially in the next few years. Inshallah!

  7. David, your daughter sounds amazing! Three languages at a very young age is a leap start ahead in life! And the vivid imagination sounds incredible lovely too. She is blessed with an intelligent and balanced mind, and quick grasping powers!

    My daughter faced similar issues at that age, and would often come home from play bitter at gossips she didn’t find meaningful or engaging enough, and the other children found her talks of the “Earth’s tectonic plates shifting, clashing and causing earthquakes” plain weird I think ๐Ÿ™‚ But she persisted and picked up ways to mix with diverse children and play even if the thoughts were poles apart – and it has made her more balanced I think. The socializing program certainly should help, her teacher sounds like a very understanding person. But beyond anything it’s regular company of children and time that is the best teacher – of everything both good and bad ๐Ÿ˜.

    1. Yes, I know – I actually think that the interaction with other children is the most valuable aspect of preschool for her!

      Thank you so much for sharing your daughter’s experience, Deb!


  8. Kids are very good at picking up languages at an early age provided they get that environment at home and school. Your precious angel is lucky to get it at home.
    I used to feel sorry for my son in the early years of his school as he was more interested in science then whereas his peers were not! So mostly he would have no one to talk to. But he had wonderful teachers. Now at 13, he and his classmates, are finally on the same page.
    Nobody ever told me parenting would be bittersweet.

    1. I totally understand that, Punam.

      It’s hard for me to watch my daughter get frustrated with other children, but what’s my alternative? Not to teach her what I have to offer? The answer is obvious.

      I think we’ll have to push for higher level classes for her when she’s in elementary school next year… we’ll see.

      13 is HUGE! Is he an only child?


      1. David, we have to teach our kids what we have to and stand on the sidelines (wringing our hands in anxiety) as we watch them navigate life on their own.

        13 is certainly huge but 17 is huger! My daughter is 17. ๐Ÿ˜…

        Time to share the links of poems I wrote on/ for my kids.

        This is called shameless plugging. But

  9. I ran a physics program for gifted kids for a few years, for approx. 15 yr olds. Many of those kids had very poor social skills, but really enjoyed being with a peer group of other very bright kids. A few struggled even so – and they tended to be the more arrogant ones. Some didn’t cope with not being the brightest in the room. The ones that got the most out of the program were the ones that were able to make friends. Encouraging your daughter to have age appropriate friendships and take an interest in others may make things a lot easier for her later.

    1. Kate, yes – absolutely!

      Encouraging your daughter to have age appropriate friendships and take an interest in others may make things a lot easier for her later.

      Right now, this seems to be the most valuable thing that she gets from preschool… and we both think it’s incredibly important.

      Thank you for sharing your experience,

      1. Bright kids are tricky. One of my boys was “diagnosed” as gifted by the school, when he was being really disruptive. They gave him an IQ test and suddenly the teachers’ attitudes changed massively – instead of being labelled “trouble maker” he was labelled “bright and bored”. He still really struggles to make friends, and to recognise value in other types of intelligence to his (strongly mathematical – he hates poetry ๐Ÿ˜ฆ ).
        Happy to say more about the girls in the G&T program, but probably not in a public forum.

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