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From PEKN 1P93 Winter 2014: Group 22: Life Skills

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[edit] Background

Interpersonal skills are vital life skills that are usually learned early on in life through interactions withfamily, school, sports and many other activities. They are used to communicate, socialize, listen and better our relationships. If they aren't learned early on in life, individuals might miss out on valuable opportunities because of their lack of skill to communicate and express themselves to others. As we age, these skills become more valuable because of their application to the workplace. In the work place we need these skills in order to communicate with people such as employers, colleagues and clients. Often employers look to hire people with strong interpersonal skills because this means they work well in a team setting, which proves valuable to their company. Interpersonal skills not only apply to the workplace, but they apply to a social setting as well. If people aren't able to socialize and express themselves to others, valuable points may never be said and goals may never be reached because of this social barrier.

[edit] History

Interpersonal skills are vital, transferable skills that allow individuals to communicate and express themselves to others. When one has good interpersonal skills it creates the opportunity to develop social skills and also communicate effectively with those around you. Ancient civilizations including the Greeks used physical activities such as gymnastics and military preparatory exercises to foster teamwork and communication skills. Many ancient civilizations had a very distinct hierarchy of social class that lead to a difference in the levels of interpersonal skills. For example, during the Roman time period interpersonal skills were entirely different compared to now. During that time, social class had a significant effect on how well a person was able to communicate and express themselves. The social classes that were present in this time were the upper class citizens (senators, royalty), and the lower class (including common citizens, foreigners, slaves). The citizens from the upper class would tend to only socialize with other citizens from a higher social class. The common citizens and slaves were therefore forced to develop relationships and socialize with fellow lower class citizens. The division of social classes was evident in the seating sections of the Roman Colosseum. The royalty and high class citizens sat in personal booths with servants while the lower class citizens were in the crowded portion of the stadium, fighting for the bread that was thrown in an attempt to appease the starving lower socio economic class.

Modern corporations use activities such as team building games and inter-office sports leagues to improve the communication and leadership skills of their employees.In the 21st century, interpersonal skills are as important as ever due to the ever changing workplace and the need for constant communication between each member of a corporation.

[edit] Target Audience

The use of physical activity to develop interpersonal skills is most beneficial to children and youth because they are in the primary stages of
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neurological, physical, cognitive, and social development. Learning, at a young age, problem solving, effective communication (both verbally and non-verbally) and anger management skills helps children create stable relationships and become more socially mature. For children, interpersonal skills act as a foundation for many of life's processes, from playing sports and meeting new people to securing employment. However the use of physical activity to foster interpersonal skill development is not limited to children and youth. Physical activity and co-operative games can foster communication development in children and adults alike. Everyone, regardless of age, can benefit from solid interpersonal skills in order to better communicate and work with others. Employers often seek to hire people with strong interpersonal skills because these people work well in a team setting and communicate well with colleagues and clients. Employers often utilize team building activities to bolster employee performance which, along with sports outside of the workplace, helps to create a more assertive, empathetic and co-operative workforce. The skills learned through team building activities can be fine tuned and put into practice through the participation in sports.

[edit] Research

Nauert (2010) discovered that physical activity in a team setting has benefits beyond just physical fitness. Dr. Linda Jackson, a co-investigator with Nauert, and her team of researchers at the University of Michigan, found that children who engaged in a higher frequency of physical activities scored higher on testing for leadership and empathy. This indicates that, through physical activity, children can be empowered during a critical developmental period. Jackson and her team also discovered that the children who showed greater leadership and empathy towards others were also more likely to understand the importance of their own health and well being.[3]

Zurc (2012) tested children to determine if there was a connection between social skills and physical activity. Physical activity was measured using a questionnaire and the level of social skills was ranked using the Social Skills rating system. The study found that physical activity has a significant impact on children’s level of social skills. The study found that the more physical activity involvement within the family and within sports clubs leads to better social skills in areas such as cooperation, assertiveness, empathy and self control. [4]

Simon et al (2013) conducted a study to assess children's physical activity, social play behaviour, activity type and social interactions during elementary school recess using observation. He observed school children at recess over a three month period using standardized physical activity observation. The results showed that, compared to girls, boys were engaged more in physical activity during recess. He also found that school recess gave students the opportunity to socialize in different group sizes. It was found that boys often associated larger group sizes with physical activity and girls had smaller groups associated with physical activity. [5]

Bruner (2013) conducted a study on the importance and effects of social identity on pro-social and antisocial behaviour towards teammates and opponents. Specifically, the study looks at how social cohesion mediates the pro-social and antisocial behaviour towards teammates. This relates to physical activity in the fact that the study is based on the effects towards team-mates in sport and how team interpersonal skills can create pro-social behaviour.[6]

Edutopia Staff (2011) studied the use of physical activity to improve social skills in school children. The staff created an environment that used physical activity to teach the children how to use interpersonal skills such as verbal and non verbal communication as well as team work. The study found that a direct correlation was present between physical activity and social skill improvement. [7]

[edit] Existing Physical Activity Programs

Physical activities that include the use of life skills is something that goes hand in hand in the modern world. These programs vary from complex team sports to simple small group games. This helps not only one's physical health but also gives them the understanding of life skills as these programs incorporate and encourage communication, teamwork, and leadership.

Simple Programs:

YMCA after school programs: The after school Sports Camp provided by the YMCA [8]that not only provides physical activity through sports, but also helps develop teamwork, leadership, and lifelong friendships. There are a wide variety of camps to pick from that provide physical activity, as well as provide developmental and social skills.[9]

Recreation Service Camps - Brock University: These are specific sport based camps that Brock University offers. This is a great way for children of all ages to gather and compete using skills they have already developed and also to pursue development of other important skills. It is a great way for children to meet new friends and get used to being around other people(children).[10]

Friendship Club – Social Skills: This is a program to teach children and children with disabilities social skills, life skills, and problem solving - vital skills needed for social success.[11]

Club Jump: Club Jump is a program that aims to get kids to interact by taking part in all sorts of different activities. Not only does this program focus on physical activity and motor skill development but also uses crafts and other activities that bring the children together and encourage them to use develop different types of skills like creativity and imagination.[12]

Tim Hortons: Tim Horton Children's Foundation camp (THCFC) are created to give children of all ages the opportunity to get away from home and learn and experience new things as well as pursuing personal achievements. THCFC gives children the resources and guidance to develop new skills, become more independent and return home stronger individuals.[13]

[edit] Best Practice Activity Suggestions


Crossing the Falls: Is a very simple game that incorporates a variety of different skills such as; communication, teamwork, cooperation, and focus. The object of the game is to get your whole team and an array of objects across the gym floor without any body parts touching the ground. This is done by compiling everyone's knowledge to create for a system that allows this to happen quickly and effectively.

Team Sports (Basketball, Soccer): Although this is a more advanced activity it is probably the most effective way to learn and develop these interpersonal skills. All team sports involve these skills so an overall goal can be achieved. Some skills that are needed when playing these sports are teamwork, communication, cooperation and proactive leadership. Not only do these skills need to be present when playing these sports, but they can also be developed as it allows children to interact with one another and blend each of there skills creating for a never ending learning experience.

Touch the Ball: This is a very simple game that can be played with children of all ages. The goal of this game is to get the ball across the gym floor without it touching the ground but everyone on the team must be touching the ball at all times. This too allows everyone to become involved using and mixing there knowledge and unique ideas to complete the task.

Ultimate Frisbee: Is a more complex game but really creates for a competitive atmosphere. It involves teamwork, communication, skill development (throwing a frisbee), and lastly body awareness. The object of the game is to move the frisbee into the opposing teams end zone by passing it amongst your teammates. Without the cooperation and full team involvement the task becomes harder to accomplish so teamwork is very important.

Blanket Volleyball: Is a complex version of normal volleyball. The game is played the exact same but all hits must come off the blanket and returned by catching the ball in the blanket before it hits the ground. This version of volleyball creates for a fun/exciting game where all team members must move as one to complete the goal. It gets team members working together, and communicating.

[edit] Future Directions

In order to maximize interpersonal skill development, it is important that both children and adults are exposed to activities that promote communication, leadership and social interaction. Physical education curriculum frameworks need to be geared towards the development of the individual as a whole, not strictly the physical or athletic characteristics. School is a great setting for developing interpersonal skills due to the constant interaction with others and the necessity of co-operation in a team setting. Corporations can also play a role in the improvement of interpersonal skills through the use of office or business sports leagues. Instead of team building activities and co-operative games meant to teach employees leadership, empathy and teamwork, businesses can explore the use of sports to develop the same desired skill set. A team sport requires individuals to work together and constantly verbally communicate with one another, while also revealing hidden leadership qualities. The same skills that a team building workshop teaches can effectively be mimicked outside of the workplace through team sporting activities. [14]

[edit] External Links

Excerpt taken from Schoolwide Physical Activity (2010)[15]

Health & Physical Education: Learning Area Statement [16]

The teaching of interpersonal skills in U.S. medical schools[17]

Developing interpersonal skills in adventure-based learning – Level 6 [18]

Proof that physical activity improves kids lives [19]

Teaching Cooperation through Elementary School Physical Education [20]

Certain interpersonal skills one can develop or hold [21]

[edit] Notes and References

  1. Nudd, G. et al (2013) More Employers Offering Elder Care Benefits. Retrieved from:[1]
  3. Nauert, R. (2010). Physical Activity Helps Improve Social Skills. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2014, from [2]
  4. Zurc, J. (n.d). Connection between physical activity and level of social skills in children. Zdravniski Vestnik-Slovenian Medical Journal, 81(12), 847-860. Available online :[3]
  5. Simon J., Stuart J., Nicola D., Conor. P. An observational assessment of physical activity levels and social behavior during elementary school recess. Health Education Journal, 72(3) 254 –262. Available Online: [4]
  6. Bruner, W. M., Social identity and prosocial and antisocial behavior in youth sport. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Volume 15, Issue 1. Pgs 56-64. Available Online:[5]
  7. EDUTOPIA STAFF, Social and Emotional Learning: A Short History - 10/6/2011 . Available Online:[6]
  8. Burlington Press Web Services. (2014). Day Camps. Available Online: [7]
  9. YMCA Canada. (2014). YMCA Day Camps. Available Online:[8]
  10. Brock University. (2010). Recreation Services Camps. Available Online: [9]
  11. THE LEARNING DISABILITIES ASSOCIATION OF TORONTO DISTRICT. (2014). Friendship Club – Social Skills. Available Online:[10]
  12. (2013). Jump Club. Available Online : [11]
  13. Tim Horton Children's Foundation. (2012). Tim Horton Children's Foundation Programs. Available Online: [12]
  14. What are Interpersonal Skills?. (2011, September 4). Skills You Need. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from : [13]
  15. Rink, J.,Hall, T., and Williams, L. (2009). The Contributions of Physical Activity. Avaibale Online:[14]
  16. Curriculum Framework. (1998). HEALTH & PHYSICAL EDUCATION-Learning Area Statement. Available Online:[15]
  17. Kahn, G. S., Cohen, B., Jason, H. (1979). The teaching of interpersonal skills in U.S. medical schools. Academic Medicine. Volume 54 - Issue 1. Available Online: [16]
  18. Ministry of Education. (2014). Developing interpersonal skills in adventure-based learning – Level 6. Available Online: [17]
  19. Active For Life. (2011). Proof that physical activity improves kids lives. Available Online: [18]
  20. Hickson, C. (2014). Teaching Cooperation through Elementary School Physical Education. Available Online: [19]
  21. Health Center. (2014). Interpersonal Skills. Availble Online: [20]
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