Are you looking for activities that develop and enhance the interpersonal skills of your child? If yes, here is a list of 11 interpersonal intelligence activities for kids. This list of activities has been developed after a fair amount of research and is most suited for young children (preschool, pre-primary and kindergarten). We are confident that you will find them useful. Scroll past the activities to understand in-depth about interpersonal intelligence.
11 Interpersonal Intelligence Activities for Kids
- Regular Household Chores
- Arts and Crafts
- Pretend Play
- Planting Saplings (gardening)
- Building Blocks
- Magnetic Tiles
- Community Service (volunteering)
- Public Speeches (show and tell)
- Drama (plays)
- Dance (in a group)
Note: We start with ideas for children in the age group of 2-4 years (preschool, pre-primary and early kindergarten) and then look at the 4-6 year age group (kindergarten). If your child is in the second age group, please skip the first section and scroll down to the next section.
Interpersonal intelligence Activities for Toddler and School-Ready Children (Preschool, Pre-primary and Early Kindergarten)
1. Regular household chores
Do you find household chores boring? Well, preschoolers do not find them boring. Numerous studies have shown that preschoolers do NOT differentiate between playing and doing household chores. Let us say you have a habit of cleaning your house every Sunday. Why not engage your child while doing the same? Kids will love it and learn so much from it. Even a simple activity like cleaning your bookshelf or your clothes cupboard can be so much fun for a child. Below are 5 tips on how to go about it.
- Keep talking with your child as you are doing the activity. If you are cleaning your bookshelf, explain why you are doing it (because it is dirty!). Explain how you are going to go about it: “We are going to bring all the books down, then clean the bookshelf with a cloth and re-arrange the books back”.
- Give the child small tasks which it can complete on its own. For example, you can ask your child to fetch a few things when you need them.
- Seek your child’s opinion. For example, you could ask your child’s opinion on where a particular book should be put on the shelf.
- Share your thought process by thinking out aloud. ‘Let us put all the big books here’. ‘All these picture books belong here’.
- Finally, once it is over, don’t forget to thank the child for her contribution to the team-work!
2. Arts and Craft
You can create your own indoor activities with relatively simple things like chart paper, colour paper, old clothes, fabric pieces, child-friendly modelling clay, ribbons, plastic cups and buckets, old cardboard boxes (what do you do with all those Amazon or Flipkart boxes?) etc. Set the goals of the activity depending on the resources you have. They could be to make a paper boat or a beautiful doll or a nice rangoli or a colourful box for putting keys and coins.
Pretend play for toddlers (preschool, pre-primary and early kindergarten age group) is an important part of their development. Pretend play enhances social, emotional, language, cognitive and imagination skills in kids. As we noted in this article, children enjoy pretend playing and it should be encouraged actively. Depending on the props available in your home, there are numerous creative ways to encourage your child to pretend play. The only limitation is your imagination.
Pretend play ideas: visiting a doctor, going to a supermarket, picnic at the zoo, superhero/barbie doll games, doing a puja or going to a temple etc. As a parent, all you need to do is come up with a theme and sit back and enjoy. There are no definitive rules for such fun games. Instead, let children run the show and intervene only when they are going completely off-track or if they have gotten stuck.
Just as adults enjoy playing ‘dumb charades’ or ‘Antakshari’ games, young children love to play ‘Pictionary’. The objective is for the team-mates to guess the selected word from the picture drawn. For young children, this game will enhance teamwork, imagination, cognitive capabilities, vocabulary and non-verbal communication. All you need for this activity is chart paper or whiteboard and a few sketch pens or crayons to draw. You may introduce a point system if you wish to spice things up.
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5. Planting Saplings or small plants
This activity requires an open area like your balcony or garden. Once you have a place, all you need is a few additional things like seeds, pots, soil or mud and mugs or small buckets for watering the plants. You can even use household grains and seeds from your kitchen. I recently did this activity with my children using brown/black channa. Other types of seeds that work are methi, coriander, rice (needs a lot of water and might take up to 8-10 days to see results), tomato seeds and chilli seeds (please be careful while using chilli seeds) etc. These plants tend to grow reasonably quickly, and our impatient children can see results of their efforts soon. You can also get your children to decorate the pots with colours and paints.
Interpersonal Intelligence Activities for early School-Going (Kindergarten) Children
This refers to the age group of children who are 4-6 years (kindergarten) old. We suggest the following interpersonal skills activities.
1. Building Blocks
If you have a Lego building set or any other good building-block set, there are many interesting things that can be built by children. For example, they can build a house, sky scraper, temple or a park. Assembling the Lego pieces requires fine motors skills, 3-dimensional imagination and creativity.
2. Magnetic Tiles
This game is a favourite among children. They love the fact that tiles stick together. Assembling magnetic tiles to form structures is much easier than Lego pieces or building blocks. This game enhances 3-dimensional imagination and creativity. The goals you could set can range from a temple to a castle.
3. Community Service and Volunteering
Volunteering and community service theme can be explored with various easy-to-execute and practical ideas. For example, it could be something as simple as collecting donations for Ganesh puja in your neighbourhood. Similarly, children can take part in an old clothes donation campaign. You could also organize neighbourhood cleanliness drive. These kinds of activities require coordination among team members, initiative, organization and leadership skills. While organizing such activities, you could consider designating specific roles for each participant.
4. Giving Short Speeches in public like ‘Show and Tell’
While children in this age group maybe too young for public debates, they certainly are read for public speaking activities such a ‘Show and Tell’. The whole process includes few simple steps: children must select a topic, do basic research on the topic, write down what they are going to say, practice the speech they are going to deliver and finally talk confidently in public. Benefits of such activities include better communication skills, enhanced public speaking skills, reduced stage fear etc.
5. Plays (Drama)
Activities of this type requires greater adult supervision and are best suited for a classroom setting. The adult organizer has to come up with the idea for the skit or the play, write down the dialogues and arrange for costumes. The benefits of such an activity are numerous as they require coordination, communication and public speaking skills. Besides being a lot of fun, these events create lasting and fond memories.
6. Dance (in a Group)
This is a great way to teach interpersonal and social skills to children. Similar to a play, there is significant amount of adult involvement on things like song selection, deciding the steps of the song, choreography, costumes etc. Dance as an activity that has numerous benefits including coordination between team members, gross motor skills and communication. This type of activity too is best suited for a classroom setting.
Hope you enjoyed our list of activities that enhance interpersonal intelligence in kids. Please continue reading to know how you should administer these activities to derive maximum benefits.
Methodology to follow for Interpersonal Intelligence Activities in Children
Children do develop social and interpersonal skills gradually over many years. It is important to keep in mind the age-appropriateness of the activities. Below we give suggestions on how you should administer interpersonal intelligence activities for children between 2 to 6 years of age (from preschool to kindergarten).
For all Interpersonal Intelligence activities for kids listed above, follow this methodology:
- Your child needs at least one partner for any given interpersonal intelligence activity. Partners could be other children or it could be you. Interpersonal skills by definition develop when a child learns to work in a collaborative manner. If you have more than 4 children, you could think of dividing them into teams.
- Set a Goal. Understanding a goal needs listening and comprehension skills. When a child works in a collaborative manner towards a common goal, it helps the child to develop and hone its problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Depending on the goal you have chosen, the requisite resources will have to be made available to the children.
- Designate Roles (optional): If the number of children participating in the activity is large (greater than 4) or if there is a significant age difference between the participants, you could consider designation of roles. For example, one child could be the team-leader and others, the team-members. This also depends on the nature of the activity.
- Time Constraint (optional). Depending on the type of the activity, you could decide to add a time-limit for activity completion.
- Winners and Prizes (optional). Again, depending on the type of the interpersonal intelligence activity, you can choose to have a few winners and prizes.
We have prepared a short presentation (slides) on this topic. For those of you in a hurry, here’s the link.
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Please read further, to understand what interpersonal intelligence is, the different skills that make up this intelligence, its role in child development and why developing interpersonal and social skills from an early age is important.
What is Interpersonal Intelligence?
Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to form social and emotional relationships with other people. It also includes the ability to manage conflicts with other individuals. It is one of the 9 types of intelligences as per Howard Gardner and his famous theory of multiple intelligences.
The 7 Key Skills that make up Interpersonal intelligence:
- Verbal communication skills. There are ample opportunities in the daily environment of the child, to practice this.
- Non-verbal communication skills. Researchers say that only a small part of communication is verbal. Facial expressions, hand gestures, body language etc. play a vital role in effective communication.
- Listening skills. An important skill that is often ignored. Communication is not a one-way journey. Listening completes communication and makes it a two-way journey.
- Negotiation skills. Are we not almost always negotiating in our professional and personal lives? Put any two individuals in the world together in one room and disagreements will emerge pretty quickly. Negotiation helps the two different individuals arrive at a mutually acceptable solution.
- Problem-solving skills. Being problem solver is as much about ability as it is about attitude. It is best to start young if you want your children to be problem solvers.
- Decision making skills. Decision making is as much an art as a science. As inidividuals we are constantly making decisions. Decision making is more complex when one is part of a team.
- Assertiveness. Articulating your needs and wants clearly to other people is a vital interpersonal skill.
Explore: Development Milestones (18-36 months)
Why are Interpersonal Skills Important?
Very often, in our workplaces, we see that it is not person with the highest IQ who gets the promotions. When it comes to success in a workplace and in leadership roles, it has been observed that the technical expertise and IQ is often less important than emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is closely related to the concept of interpersonal intelligence.
Child Development Stages and Interpersonal Intelligence
Children are born into this world with practically no social skills. It should surprise no parent that interpersonal intelligence is quite underdeveloped in children of pre-primary, preschool or kindergarten age groups. Infants and toddlers find it difficult to share their toys or dolls or books. They learn the social rules of engagement by observing, interacting and learning from their primary caretakers. In most cases, the primary caretakers are parents themselves.
The types of play engaged in by children is an excellent indicator of their evolving interpersonal and social skills. Infants mostly engage in solitary play where they play all by themselves, uninterested in other children. When they reach toddlerhood (preschool or pre-primary), they start to enjoy parallel playing, where they play alongside children of the same age-group but do not directly engage with the other child. Only when children reach the ages of 4-5 years (kindergarten), they start to engage in what is known as cooperative play. Most popular games and sports fall under this category. Cooperative play is the most advanced type of play in terms of social and interpersonal rules that it requires its participants to follow.
What are the signs of high Interpersonal Intelligence in a child?
- Sensitive to other’s moods and feelings
- Can easily gauge the motivations and intentions of others
- An excellent team player
- Possesses good communication and Negotiation Skills
- Exhibits leadership qualities
Explore: Learning & Development Resources
A few misconceptions about what constitutes high interpersonal intelligence
Often parents have misconceptions about what constitutes interpersonal intelligence. These skills (listed below) do NOT indicate high interpersonal intelligence in kids.
- An extrovert. An extrovert who likes being around people may not always display high interpersonal intelligence. Conversely, introverts can display high interpersonal intelligence.
- The constant need to be the leader of the pack. On the contrary, a sign of high degree of interpersonal intelligence is the ability to be both a good team player and a leader.
- Great oratorical skills. Great oratory does not imply great interpersonal skills. Communication is a two-way phenomenon that needs good listening skills as well.
It is important for parents to understand that the process of working collaboratively, talking with each other and coordinating is what truly enhances interpersonal skills. The focus therefore should not be on the goal but rather on the process.
Author’s Note to Parents:
- Always be mindful of safety of kids during any game or activity. For example, small building blocks are a potential choking hazard. Similarly, if you are organising activities like volunteering, it should be in a safe neighbourhood.
- Any activity that enhances 3 or more of the 7 sub-skills of interpersonal intelligence, will help your child. Basis this, parents can create activities on their own.
- Most sports, especially team sports, are excellent activities for enhancing interpersonal skills. Typically sports are classified as ‘co-operative play’ by child development specialists. Encourage your children to play sports!
- In total we have listed 11 interpersonal intelligence activities for kids: 5 for the 2-4 year age group (preschool, pre-primary and early kindergarten) and 6 for the 4-6 year (kindergarten) age group. Some of these activity ideas will work across age groups as well. For example, the pictionary activity can be enjoyed by kids in 4-6 years age group as well.
- Lastly, try and get your children to participate in such activities at least once a week for lasting impact.
We hope you liked our blog on interpersonal intelligence activities for kids.
We have prepared a short presentation (slides) on this topic. For those of you in a hurry, here’s the link.
 Goleman, D. (1998). Working With Emotional Intelligence. New York, NY. Bantum Books.