Why Fifth Graders Need Important Social Skills to Succeed

Independence and responsibility make this list of milestones

fifth graders in library
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Fifth grade is a year of impending change, including the development of key social skills children need to succeed. During this school year, students wrap up their elementary school days and prepare for middle school, both academically and socially. The social skills that are important for fifth grade are related to independence, dependability and understanding the nuances involving the concept of “fairness.”

Independence  

Skill: Begins to exhibit an increasing level of independence.
Why It’s Important: At this age, boys in particular are beginning to show a great deal more independence and should even be testing their limits a little more. While this can be frustrating for parents, it can be a great opportunity for teachers.
With students who are willing to be a little more independent, teachers can gear the classroom more toward guided instruction than direct teaching. This helps students learn how to learn, not just memorize formulas and information. This stage offers the opportunity for fifth graders to transform into true scholars.

Trustworthiness

Skill: Becomes more dependable and trustworthy.
Why It’s Important: Dependability and trustworthiness are social skills that are not only important for fifth grade, but for all ages as well. However, beginning to see the signs of these skills mean that your child is ready to take on more responsibility for his own learning.

He may be asked to keep track of his own homework assignments without you signing off on them anymore, or he may have ongoing, in-class projects that he works with the teacher on to set his own deadline. Parents should avoid taking on responsibilities for their children that they can very well manage themselves at this age.

Responsibility

Skill: Is (slowly) learning to accept responsibility for own failures and mistakes.  

Why It’s Important:  Don’t assume that by fifth grade your child is ready to be accountable for all her actions and misdeeds, because she’s not and probably won’t be for many years. However, whether she admits it or not, she is beginning to see her own role in her mistakes and failures, a skill that can help her be more open to constructive criticism, notes and editing from her teacher. She can use such criticism to better her academic performance and become more advanced in a particular subject.

Fairness 

Skill: Is very aware of the concept of “fairness.”
Why It’s Important: While in some circumstances, this skill can actually lead to complaining, it can also be used in a positive way. Although your child may come home from school bemoaning the fact that so-and-so got to do something different during class or didn’t have to do the homework and it isn’t fair, her complaining sets the stage for some important teachable moments.



Once a child is able to realize the concept of fairness, she may also be able to understand why not everything has to be fair.  The explanation that a child who has more difficulty learning math, for instance, has a modified amount of homework can open her eyes to the idea that teachers are understanding of differences. She may then see that teachers are willing to adjust work to meet the students’ individual needs.

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