Social skills books for your homeschooler?
I know there are homeschool moms across the country rolling their eyes into their back of their head at the very thought.
I have been homeschooling for going on 4 years, so I don’t mean to alienate myself from my tribe…but I do think homeschool kids need help with their social skills.
There I said it.
It’s out there in the world!
You may be wondering why I think that.
Have my homeschooled kids become super weirdos?
Maybe I’ve seen some bizarre behavior in our co-op and I’m trying to get in front of it?
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Homeschool kids need help with their social skills because…they’re kids!
Not because they’re homeschooled.
Whether you are public school, private school, online school, charter school, or homeschool – you need help with your social skills.
As a matter of fact, I know a handful of adults who could use some help with their social skills (I bet you do, too).
Interestingly, ALL of the books below are written to traditional school students who spend time in the classroom environment.
Many of the reviews I read before buying these books were from teachers who use them in the classroom to help kids with their social skills!
Many parents feel that social skills are acquired naturally by just being around other kids. That is true is some situations, but for some it is not.
Here are some possible reasons why:
Some kids grow up to be full blown adults and have no idea how awful their table manners are, that they stand uncomfortably close to people, or that they talk way too much about things that bore others.
We have all been to a dinner party before and left shaking our heads about that one person who was there.
Kids can experience a lot of emotional pain as they try to haphazardly navigate their social world and guess why things are or are not working out for them.
Some of that pain can turn to scars that they carry for a lifetime.
If there are resources available, why not work with your kids to help them sharpen their social skills for the best possible outcome?!
Why not help them succeed by preparing them for a situation BEFORE it happens?
If you disagree that your kid needs help in this area, then you may be seeing social skills too narrowly.
But that’s only one social skill.
There are many other parts of our social lives such as listening well, taking turns, using the right voice volume, disagreeing calmly, how to stand up for yourself with a needy friend, and handling teasing from others – among many others.
I love the idea of working with my kids regularly so they expect these issues and they know how to handle them!
I would not wait until something happens and then pull out a book to “correct” the issue.
Instead, I recommend you start collecting books and just adding them into your normal homeschool routine.
Try to rotate one or two books in every week, so that the idea of how to better interact with others is near the front of their minds.
Tell them that this is a skill no different that reading, playing the piano, or learning math facts.
It’s just something that needs to be learned, practiced, and perfected as they get older.
That being said, let’s dive into some books!
This hilarious book is perfect for the kid that is constantly interrupting.
Louis gets so excited to share his thoughts that he keeps “erupting” with words and doesn’t understand why teachers/friends/parents get frustrated with him.
When someone finally interrupts Louis, he finds out how it feels! His mom helps him to come up with a strategy to hold onto his “very important words” until it’s the right time to share them.
My kids recognized themselves right away in this book and we had a lot of fun talking about “erupting,” how it feels to be interrupted, and how we can work to wait our turn to talk.
Isabella is a sweet girl who has one volume – LOUD. Whether she is in class, at the library, talking on the phone, or sitting in a restaurant – she struggles to speak with the appropriate volume.
Her teacher gently explains to her the 5 appropriate volumes a person should use – whisper, 6 inch, table talk, strong speaker, and outside.
Isabella practices each volume by saying the super fun word – SLURPADOODLE!
This was a huge hit with my kids and a great way to introduce a common language for volume.
Instead of saying, “Not so loud!” at the dinner table, I now say, “Hey guys, let’s use our table talk voices.”
“Table talk” has also been very helpful to explain how loud you should be on phone calls and video chats.
They get it right away and all our ears are thankful!
This book follows the story of an octopus who wakes up to find his front yard rock garden has been wrecked by some nocturnal lobsters.
He gets more and more angry as he realizes what has happened. I love this quote about how the octopus starts to feel:
“He knew something was happening to him but he did not know how to stop it. He was so angry that he thought he might explode…and, he did. The angry octopus lost his temper, and as he screamed and yelled he released a purplish black cloud of ink into the water around him. He felt frustrated and out of control. He didn’t feel like he was the boss of his own body or feelings…”
Luckily, a “sea child” (looks like a young mermaid) comes along and teaches the octopus how to relax and get control of his body and feelings again.
She teaches him how to breathe in and out while tensing and relaxing his muscles. The result is a calm octopus who feels relaxed and in control.
The book ends with the octopus happily rebuilding his rock garden with his new friend.
This is a fantastic book to help kids recognize the physical signs of anger and how scary and out of control it can be.
It also gives a real strategy to help your child calm down and get back in control when they are in the throes of anger.
RJ does not like hearing “No,” from anybody.
His parents and his teacher know that he will always want to argue or debate whatever he is being told no about.
After a too long discussion about extra recess, RJ’s teacher decides to set up a cool incentive to teach him the importance of accepting “No” as an answer and just moving on with his day.
She also uses a poem to explain how to appropriately disagree with an authority figure and encourages kids to ask “Why?” after the moment has passed, they have calmed down, and they can have a reasonable conversation.
****I would definitely mention to kids that there are times to say no to an adult and talk about examples (a stranger wants you to get in their car, someone wants to touch you inappropriately, etc.)
The book ends with a happy RJ who finally sees the benefits of accepting no as an answer.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely have a kid who wants to debate everything.
This can become very frustrating and embarrassing when your homeschooler is dealing with a co-op teacher, coach, other parents at a playdate, etc.
“I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No!” has helped my kids become more self aware of the problem and helped them understand it’s okay to disagree – you just have to do it the right way.
Norman or “Noodle” as his friends call him, is sick of rules.
Why can’t you eat food at the computer?
Why can’t you wear shoes in the house?
Why do you have to finish schoolwork before playing with friends?
Why can’t you cut in line at school or run in the hallways?
Everybody is always saying. “Follow the rules!”
While working on a school assignment, Noodle’s mom helps him see what life would be like without rules – total chaos!
She shows him that rules are meant to protect him – not torture him.
There is so much truth in this book and I love reading it to my girls.
Don’t we all wish sometimes that we could throw the rules out the window and do whatever we want?!
This book is a great way to open discussion with your child about why these rules are really in place and what life would be like without them.
Growing Friendships is a book that I wish I had as a kid!
Written by a psychologist and child expert, this book is packed with practical tips and tricks to help your kid navigate the often confusing world of an elementary (middle school too) aged social scene.
The book is divided into 5 sections – Reaching out to make friends, stepping back to keep friends, blending in to join friends, speaking up to share with friends, and letting go to accept friends.
Each chapter opens up with real life scenarios with kids who are struggling with something – and then practical solutions are given. There are also some cute cartoons with a dog and cat that are thrown in for some comic relief.
My favorite parts of the book have been helping my kids understand how to comprise with their friends better, how to be better hosts during a playdate, how to recognize and stop annoying behavior, and how to handle it well when friends want to play with someone else.
True story: There is a part of the book that talks about how to “agree to disagree” with a friend instead of getting into a fight over something that is not very important.
One of my daughters came back from a playdate and triumphantly told me she had used that technique with her friend!
I was so proud of her for having the control to agree to disagree and let it go – many adults can’t do that!
This social skill book is phenomenal, and will stay in our morning basket line up for a long time.
I do not personally own these books, but I am excited to add them to my collection of social skill books for homeschoolers soon!
“Today’s kids need a fresh approach to manners that resonates with them. A Kids’ Guide to Manners goes beyond saying please and thank you with fun, practical lessons that bring manners into the modern world.
From meeting new people to being a courteous guest to texting a group of friends, kids will have fun as they learn to use manners in a way that will make their lives easier and more enjoyable. With 50 essential manners, plus interactive quizzes, entertaining examples, and at-home practice exercises, A Kids’ Guide to Manners teaches kids where, when, and how to use manners as they relate to everyday life.
With this true manners how-to guide kids will:
- Build good communication skills that will make it easy to get along with others, such as constructive ways to express emotions to the power of writing a thank you note.
- Feel confident in new situations by knowing what to do and say when meeting new people, dining in a more formal environment, or dealing with conflict and gossip.
- Learn proper tech-etiquette that represents their best self over text, email, social media, as well as tips for knowing when it is or isn’t appropriate to be using technology.
With A Kids’ Guide to Manners, both boys and girls will understand why manners matter and feel better than ever showing off their new social skills to everyone they know!”
“Kids do things before they think ALL THE TIME! Help them learn self-control and reduce their disruptive behaviors with this fun story.
When you’re a child, it’s not easy to control your impulses. Children aren’t always aware that what they are doing is inappropriate.
Third-grader Braden loves to be the center of attention. His comic genius, as he sees it, causes his friends to look at him in awe.
But some poor decision-making, like ill-timed jokes in class and an impulsive reaction during gym that left a classmate teary-eyed and crumpled on the floor, forces the adults in Braden’s life to teach him about impulse control.
But will the lessons shared by his teachers and his mom really help Braden manage his impulses? Young readers will enjoy this story filled with relatable and common situations all children share.”
“With 9 Stories in 1, the fun never ends! What Should Danny Do? is an innovative, interactive book that empowers kids with the understanding that their choices will shape their days, and ultimately their lives into what they will be. Written in a “Choose Your Own Story” style, the book follows Danny, a Superhero-in-Training, through his day as he encounters choices that kids face on a daily basis. As your children navigate through the different story lines, they will begin to realize that their choices for Danny shaped his day into what it became. And in turn, their choices for themselves will shape their days, and ultimately their lives, into what they will be.
Boys and girls both love and relate to Danny, while enjoying the interactive nature of the book–they never know what will come next! Parents and Teachers love the social-emotional skills the book teaches through empowering kids to make positive choices while demonstrating the natural consequences to negative choices. A “must-have” on every bookshelf. “
“Teach children to stop making excuses and blaming others when they make mistakes.
My name is Norman David Edwards but everybody calls me Noodle. Sometimes things happen to me that get me into trouble. But it’s not my fault!
This first book in the new Responsible Me! series, follows Noodle through a very rough day at school. It just isn’t his fault that his brother’s game ran late and he didn’t finish his homework. Or that his mom forgot to remind him to turn in his library book Or that Mary Gold got in his airspace and hit his arm with her head…
Join Noodle on his journey as he learns not to blame others or try to find fault; but instead practices accepting responsibility, and turns his very rough day into a very good NEW day!
Elementary school kids will identify with Noodle as he makes one excuse after another for his behavior and choices that lead to unwanted consequences. By learning to accept responsibility he finds instead how to use mistakes as opportunities for problem-solving and to turn negatives into positives.”
“If you drop just one soda can out the window, it’s no big deal … right? But what if everybody did that? What if everybody broke the rules … and spoke during story time, didn’t wash up, or splashed too much at the pool? Then the world would be a mess. But what if everybody obeyed the rules so that the world would become a better place? Using humorous illustrations rendered in mixed media, these questions are answered in a child-friendly way and show the consequences of thoughtless behavior.”
Teaching social skills to your homeschooler is not an admission of homeschoolers being socially behind.
Quite the opposite!
When you choose to teach social skills – you are showing your kids one more way that homeschoolers can reach for excellence! Not just blend in with whatever the status quo is.
Be sure to leave me a comment – using your best social skills 🙂 – to share what social skills you teach in your homeschool!
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