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Social Interaction in Schools: How It Works

“If we increase social skills, we see commensurate increases in academic learning. That doesn’t mean that social skills make you smarter; it means that these skills make you more amenable to learning,” Stephen Elliott.

An overview of social interaction in education 

There have been some harsh two and more years with the pandemic when the social interaction we once knew had to be stopped or kept very low. While we have done this and respected the rules for our safety, social interaction means a lot as far as the learning process is concerned. 

Benefits of social interaction for high school students 

Social interaction stays at the core of learning. The more you interact with people, the more you learn. There are different opinions from which you learn; you can receive and give feedback, which helps you develop and get to know yourself better. 

Social interaction is essential for education. It helps students learn, retain, and apply. 

The main benefits that social interaction has for students are:

 – Great for physical and mental well being

 – It helps students want to go to school

 – It creates tight relationships with teachers, peers and staff at the school.

 – Increases the trust students have in their teachers and colleagues

 – Increased sense of belonging and insurance that they are well- taken care of

 – Trust their teachers and parents are there for them whenever they need

 – Reduces stress

 – Creates stronger friendships.

Social interaction skills

The mere idea that children build up knowledge by actively participating in different activities makes social interaction essential in their development. 

It is essential to realise that social skills are not born with skills. They develop as children grow and depend on each child’s connections and environment. The degree of improving and strengthening the social skills in a child is high. While it takes practise, we all learn through practice everything from talking to walking, and social skills make no difference. 

Speech and language are what drive social interaction skills. According to Vygotsky, there are three stages of speech and language during one’s life – external, egocentric and inner speech. The external speech begins at birth up to the age of 3 years old and is when toddlers learn to interact with their caregivers; the egocentric speech is a phase that lasts between 3 years old to 7 years old, and it is characterised by learning how to play together with others and finding common ground while the inner speech is the stage where young children and adults can have inner self discussions and take decisions before they speak.

Some of the most important social skills are:

 – Sharing – while these do not seem important, children who learn how to share and realise the importance of sharing have excellent self-esteem in the long run. 

 – Cooperating – means a lot; it means showing respect, integrating into a community, accepting the ideas of others, and forming and maintaining relationships. Start from an early age by playing games that require team playing. 

 – Listening – don’t think for a second that listening is a weak trait. Listening is a great tool to thrive from an academic perspective. It takes a lot to listen to someone, and it does not signify only staying quiet while someone speaks. It means absorbing what the counterpart says and thinking and being able to have a conversation afterwards. 

 – Following Directions – since an early age, children who want to be independent tend to have difficulty following directions. But, they need to follow directions as it will help them in life. 

 – Making eye contact – good eye contact shapes the thing that shapes teh trust in a relationship, may it be a friend, a teacher, or a family member. While some children tend to be shy and avoid eye contact, more than just helping them make and keep eye contact, try and tell them that eye contact shows confidence in yourself, truth in what you say and respect towards the one you talk to. This is mostly what social skills are all about. 

 – Using manners – being polite shapes how others see you. Parents and caregivers should emphasise the importance of these two words – “sorry” and “thank you” from an early age. 

 – Self-control –  is a great trait to show respect towards what the other is doing, saying, and acting until you have your turn. 

 – Empathy – genuinely understanding others’ feelings and ideas can help you connect with others and identify common grounds. Once you have empathy, you can easily collaborate with colleagues, friends, and teachers. 

 – Intrapersonal skills – while we all know what interpersonal skills refer to, intrapersonal skills are essential to get you started. They mean understanding your emotions, thoughts, and ideas. This will help you use appropriate ways to communicate your ideas.

Vygotsky learning theory 

The Lev Vygotsky theory is a cognitive development theory.

This theory makes a direct link between the cognitive development and the social development of a person. 

He starts from the basis – the development of children’s brains. Social interaction is essential for the development of children’s brains. It all starts with the culture they are born in and developing their abilities like learning, memory, and problem-solving. There is a significant connection between the student’s culture, the community and the environment where they live and their learning and development process. A big part of how and what children learn is owing to the culture they are born in. 

Vygotsky’s theory is based on the Zone of Proximal Development and Scaffolding. Zone of Proximal Development is also known as the Zone of Potential development. What does it mean in practice? It refers to when children learn from the situation when they can almost complete a task but are not there yet. This is how an adult handling the child’s education comes in and helps up to the point that the child can do it independently. 

Likewise, scaffolding is “a system or framework of support provided by an instructor to help a student reach the next level of learning.” (Merrian – Webster). Some techniques teachers can opt for when scaffolding is:

 – One on one

 – Help the child by intervention from a More Knowledgeable Other (parents, teachers, peers, tutors)

 – Clues offering – show the child the most important features of the task

 – Visual examples 

In the scaffolding phase, the quality and quantity of the support the More KNowledgable Other offers to the child changes during the session and is adjusted according to the student’s level of comprehension.

The cognitive theory of Vygotsky is that children have a degree of ability to learn independently. They need guidance from a teacher, parent, or mentor to fulfil their true potential. With advice, children can reach a broader knowledge and more abilities. What children need is a guide to walk on their own. 

This is why children need social interaction and why there is a direct connection between the two – they learn through social interaction. They learn through playing, smiling, talking, and listening. “In play, a child is always above his average age, above his daily behavior; in play, it is as though he were a head taller than himself.” (Lev Vygotsky)


The importance of social interaction 

Social connections in schools contribute to increased academic success and emotional wellbeing. Thus schools all over should do their best to take action into developing social relationships between students, students and their teachers and inside the classroom. 

Mental Health 

Mental health is essential for life. A great way to feed your mental health is to interact with others as much as possible. Socializing can lighten up your mood and make you feel better. 

Physical Health 

Good mental health leads to good physical health. Most of our physical issues come from our minds and keeping our minds and souls healthy. 


Social interaction helps students form friendships. And what more to keep your high esteem and increased confidence in your abilities than solid friendships?


Types of social interaction in schools 

Student-Teacher interaction 

To support a healthy student-teacher interaction, teachers should focus on building trusting relationships, become advocates for children with more significant needs, and support students in managing conflict when it appears. While it is hard for some teachers to adopt a more flexible type of learning, providing a nurturing environment that can lead to discussions on the subject is vital. 

It can mean a lot to the student as they can see that their opinions matter, their need to understand the subject in their ways are listened to, and they can communicate this with the teacher, and the teacher is open about the point of the discussion on the table. This type of student-teacher interaction develops the student’s social interaction skills while also helping them gain trust in asking, raising questions and problems they do not understand or about which they have a different opinion than the one presented. 

Student-Student interaction 

Students need to interact with each other, at least in the classroom, if not outside the school. Creating opportunities for students to interact in groups, in games, they play to learn different things, in reading lessons, in the playground is an essential job of a school. 

The course structure means a lot and is what drives student-student interaction. There is a strong sense of socialising with others in class interactions such as games, reading, and discussion points. 

Student-Content interaction

The learning process is active. Thus, as far as learning concerns and courses, students need content that helps them set goals, interact, explore, work and use their experience. 

“Participation in peer discussions improves students’ ability to monitor their understanding of text, to verbalize their thoughts, to consider alternative perspectives, and to assume responsibility for their own learning” (Teacher Reading? but , I’m not A Reading Teacher, 2013).

Positive social interaction in the classroom 

Like any other interaction, social interactions have a direct impact on students. Teachers can help these social interactions develop; thus, they should create a more accommodating classroom environment from both physically and socially views. 

“When social interaction becomes part of the classroom dynamics, classrooms become active places.” (The impact of social interaction on student learning)

Why is it important?

Social interaction in the classroom prepares students to have healthy social relationships outside the classroom. While in a classroom environment, the relationships are “guarded” by a teacher and thus can be developed well, they impact the one’s social interactions outside a “guardianship” of a teacher. 

“I want to use social interaction in my future classroom because it is more fun, it allows students to learn from classmates, allows teachers to teach, and allows teachers to learn more about the students’ personalities and interests.” Another student wrote: “It makes the classroom more of a learning environment by encouraging students to think, read, conclude, summarize, question, etc.” (The impact of social interaction on student learning)

Examples of activities

Reading inside the classroom is a great activity to develop social skills. It implies listening, understanding, eye contact, and expressing ideas. “All students need opportunities to talk about what we’re reading. By doing this, I learned that reading is not just an individual action—it should not just be an individual act— but also a community action that helps us to connect to the text and clarify ideas. (The impact of social interaction on student learning)

Paraphrasing is a great social interaction activity inside the classroom as it “Being able to restate another’s thoughts in one’s language clearly and unambiguously is a crucial test of whether the thoughts were understood” (Harris and Sipay (1990), How to Increase Reading Ability)


Social interaction in online learning 

Online learning has been our reality for more than two years; thus, being able to adapt has been a need. And while some teachers and schools found it difficult as courses had to be adapted to the new realities, they have all embraced online learning and did what they needed to help students have a similar learning experience with what they knew. 

Extracurricular activities, social gatherings, and playing outside were missing from the student’s curriculum at the beginning of the pandemic. Still, as many saw, it was not a short temporary situation; they needed to adapt and create ways of socially interacting in the virtual environment. 

How to make it happen 

Creating social interaction in the virtual learning environment needs, first of all, necessary tools. These tools need to be accessible to teachers and students while having a security level required every time a child enters the virtual world. 

Once these systems are established and agreed upon, teachers and students should know how to use them. 

Social activities for Online Students

Classroom camaraderie in online learning is not as easily attainable as face-to-face learning. But it is not impossible, and teachers worldwide have made this possible with the things they have at hand. And their creativity and that of other software programs have seen a rise. 

Some of the social activities that saw a rise in the online classrooms are: 

 – Google Jamboard helps students interact with each other and share ideas by adding sticky notes on a shared page. 

 – Monthly webinars

 – Video sharing platforms to lead to discussions

 – Virtual teamwork for different projects with help from google 

 – Virtual brain breaks taken together such as online games, fun discussion topics that spark online chats, etc

 – Virtual tours in a zoo, park, 

 – Share stories through videos, presentations, social media, podcasts, and essays.

 – Theme days where students can wear a specific colour, present their preferred food, talk about their favourite book etc. 


It is safe to conclude that culture, language and community are all interrelated. They all help shape our social being and contribute to our social interactions throughout life. More than this, while culture shapes us, we shape the culture as we interact with each other and help form different opinions. 


Social Interaction in Schools FAQ 

What is social interaction in education?

Social interaction in education is how students interact with each other, with their teachers, the environment they study in, and their materials. Each school has different views on what social interaction should look like, but they all have one thing in common – the well-being of students. Helping students develop social interaction skills is essential for their education. 

Why is social interaction important in schools? 

Students already have a degree of social capacities when they enrol in school. Schools can add extra by developing these social capacities, improving them, finding where they lack and adding different social skills. Schools are an important part of the daily life of students; they are their haven when away from home, and they are their second home. Making sure they receive proper attention and care stays at teh core of each school. 

How can social interaction be used in the classroom?

There are various ways to use social interaction in a classroom, may it be a face to face classroom or an online classroom. What is vital in these social interactions is making students feel safe and supported. Only through this they can fully engage in social interactions. 

What is an example of social interaction in education?

Quizzes are a great example of social interaction used in education. They can be played in groups, consist of topics learned at the lesson, and develop each participant’s social skills like listening, respect for ‘others’ opinions, cooperation, self-control, and intrapersonal skills. 

Why is interaction important in learning?

Only through interactions can one learn, and we do this since we are born. We interact with our families through words and gestures, interact with our acquaintances, and share opinions. These interactions form what we are and help us have a basis for our social skills. In time, the more we interact, the more we blend into another culture and combine our culture into teh one of others, and all of these blendings help us develop our social skills.