IEL Tip Sheet: Children’s Social Competence Checklist
Social competence refers to a person's ability to get along with others. The checklist below was created to help teachers and caregivers assess preschool children's social competence. The intent of the checklist is not to prescribe correct social behavior but rather to help teachers observe, understand, and support children whose social skills are still forming. If a child seems to have most of the traits in the checklist, she is not likely to need special help to outgrow occasional difficulties; however, a child who shows few of the traits on the list might benefit from adult-initiated strategies to help build more satisfying relationships with others.
Traits. The child:
- Is usually in a positive mood.
- Usually comes to the program willingly.
- Usually copes with rebuffs or other
- Shows interest in others.
- Shows the capacity to empathize.
- Displays the capacity for humor.
- Does not seem to be acutely lonely.
Skills. The child usually:
- Interacts nonverbally with other
children with smiles, waves, nods, etc.
- Expects a positive response when
- Expresses wishes and preferences
clearly; gives reasons for actions and positions.
- Asserts own rights and needs appropriately.
- Is not easily intimidated by bullying.
- Expresses frustrations & anger effectively, without escalating
disagreements or harming others.
- Gains access to ongoing groups at play and
- Enters ongoing discussion on a topic; makes
relevant contributions to ongoing activities.
- Takes turns fairly easily.
- Has positive relationships with one or two
peers; shows the capacity to really care about them and miss them if they are
- Has "give-and-take" exchanges of
information, feedback, or materials with others.
- Negotiates and compromises with
- Is able to maintain friendship with one or
more peers, even after disagreements.
- Does not draw inappropriate attention to
- Accepts and enjoys peers and
adults who have special needs.
- Accepts and enjoys peers and adults who belong to
ethnic groups other than his or her own.
Relationships. The child:
- Is usually accepted versus neglected or
rejected by other children.
- Is usually respected rather than feared or
avoided by other children.
- Is sometimes invited by other children to
join them in play, friendship, and work.
- Is named by other children as someone they are friends with or
like to play and work with.
Relationships. The child:
- Is not excessively dependent on adults.
- Shows appropriate response to new adults, as opposed to extreme
fearfulness or indiscriminate approach.
[Adapted from Assessing Young
Children's Social Competence by Diane E. McClellan and Lilian G. Katz.
Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.]
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