Building Social Skills Through Empathy Education

We have a chance as educators to provide our students with the tools to take perspectives, resolve conflict, and self-regulate through social skills teaching.   

Companies and programs such as, The Lunch ProjectRoots of Empathy, even web based apps are all promoting empathy education. Recognizing the importance of teaching social skills to our students inside the school setting.  

Daybreak Lesson Plans wants to provide you with ways to start your own social skills teaching this year.   

Literature that promotes empathy 

Reading a story, and discussing it’s meaning can be an impactful way to begin social skill teaching. The following stories range from ages K-5 and can be used to practice empathy education.  

  • Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller (ages 3-6) 
  • We Are All Wonders by R.J Palacio (ages 4-7) 
  • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig (ages 6-9) 
  • Big Nate Lives it Up by Lincoln Pierce (ages 7-10)  
  • Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern (ages 8-10)  
  • Wonder by R.J Palacio (ages 10 and up) 

Activities for social skills practice  

  1. Second Step Scenarios 

Student role play scenarios that demonstrate self-regulation and perspective taking.  

  1. Class DojoVideos 

Cartoon-based videos focused on social skill practice with prompted discussion questions  

  1. Acknowledgements 

Throw kindness around like confetti” adding a piece of confetti to a classroom display anytime a student is seen showing an act of kindness towards another.  

  1. Class Meetings

Scheduling in a daily or weekly class meeting centered on how the students are growing as a classroom community. Acknowledge problems and generate solutions.  

All of these tips and activities must be implemented consistently and in a meaningful way in order for them to make an impact. Social skills are such a vital part of our schooling system and childhood development.