The Need for Social Competence in Academic Success

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Numerous studies support the conclusion that social competence is essential to academic success. A child who is socially competent has the ability to analyze and reflect on his/her own activities and interactions and those of others in a social setting. Children begin to demonstrate insights into others' behavior around the age of two. Between the ages of four and five, children understand that mental states are influenced by actions and events, although their explanations for mental states usually focus on actions. As a child matures, he is able to view interactions through a "landscape of consciousness" (Bruner, 1986, in Porath, 2009), in which actions can be explained in terms of mental states such as thoughts, feelings and judgments. Porath (2009) studied the movement from "landscape of action" to "landscape of consciousness" to determine whether children could be taught to understand others' actions in social settings. The researcher read selected stories to children, including Kevin Henkes' Chrysanthemum, Rosemary Wells' Yoko, and Leo Leonni's Swimmy. Each of the central characters had a problem to overcome that required effective interaction with peers. Children were encouraged to discuss the actions and feelings of the characters. Following the learning component of the experiment, children were asked to tell their own stories about a birthday party. Porath found the children included more detail about feelings than they had in stories told prior to the research. She
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