Most of us don't think about the multitude of social skills we rely on in any given day. Did you say "hello" to someone today? Wait in line at the grocery store? Hold the door for someone else? Ask someone for help if you needed it? Follow any directions? These are all social skills that many people take for granted but without their strong foundation a successful life becomes more difficult.
If you've read our other blogs, you already know a social skills group is a fun, structured play group that enhances interpersonal skills, builds language abilities, and promotes self-confidence. You already know many children can benefit from a little extra support in their interpersonal skills no matter what their developmental level. But what social skills do we teach when we aim to improve children's lives, friendships, and futures? Today we're mapping out 10 of the many social skills we have worked on in our social skills groups. Read on and let us know what you think about our top 10!
1. Sharing: An important life skill that sometimes needs a little extra support, especially for children (and maybe adults). It can be difficult for a child to share his or her possessions and for adults to guide appropriate behavior.
How we teach it: Believe in Me provides ample opportunities for sharing throughout groups and pairs successful sharing with lots of positive reinforcement so it becomes fun! We may only provide two paintbrushes for a class of five children so they need to share the materials for a craft. Or we might start out with a large item that has to be broken down (like a big cookie or paper) so the kids see how sharing provides everyone with a piece.
2. Caring: Showing empathy and understanding towards others helps you relate to the world around you. Enhancing this skill can have a positive impact on the whole community.
How we teach it: Believe in Me teaches children how to be a good friend by identifying how their peers are feeling and the appropriate response. During our circle time we pretend to be sad, mad, happy, tired, etc. and help the children identify the feeling. We also provide modeled responses for the children to imitate so they learn to ask others how they feel or help them when they need it.
3. Following directions: We all know it’s important for children to follow directions, especially those that are intended to keep them safe. There are directions in all stages of life: during sports, on GPS, in school, and of course at work. The ability to process and follow directions leads to increased opportunities to learn and play!
How we teach it: At Believe in Me, one of our favorite ways to practice following directions is with our awesome obstacle courses! The children get the chance to sequence and motor plan through multiple stations all while playing with their friends.
4. Working together/collaboration: Unless you plan to live a life in solitude, you need to know how to collaborate with your peers. Children may work together by creating a block tower or an academic team project, while adults collaborate with their child’s teacher, their spouses, and co-workers.
How we teach it: Believe in Me will often have children create art projects together. We each get to add in our own touches to create a group masterpiece!
5. Initiating play: How cute is it when you hear a child ask, “Can I play?” It takes a lot of courage to ask that question. It allows the child to boost his/her self-esteem and communicate needs/wants effectively.
How we teach it: Believe in Me has a trained eye to see when a child wants to play but doesn’t know how to start; we offer targeted support by modeling how s/he can ask to join in the fun and praise all children involved for playing together.
6. Taking turns: “My turn!” Taking turns requires waiting and waiting requires patience. In a world filled with immediate gratification, this is a difficult skill for some to grasp.
How we teach it: Believe in Me sets up structured activities that focus on turn taking and supporting our students with positive feedback. We use techniques the help children wait patiently like singing songs, cheering on our friends, or engaging with others to make the time pass a little bit faster.
7. Accepting others: We aren’t all the same and chances are we’re going to come across a lot of different people. That’s ok, and we can learn to get along with everyone. Our students learn how to accept their friends’ differences and appreciate their uniqueness. After all, if we were all the same the world would be a boring place!
How we teach it: Believe in Me uses social stories about acceptance to teach our little ones how to accept others for who they are. We talk about our differences and how they make our friends special. We are always lucky to learn something new from someone else's experiences!
8. Helping others: Whoa, if we all helped each other what a wonderful word this would be! Identifying when someone requires help and then knowing what to do not only benefits the person in need but also creates it a compassionate child and increases his or her social intelligence. It helps children relate to others and identify emotions.
How we teach it: Throughout our structured groups, Believe in Me helps children relate to their peers and provokes them to offer help when needed. We prompt our kids to help their friends in any way they can whether they are offering a helping hand or telling their friend "it's ok."
9. Making new friends: This can be scary and exciting all at the same time! Starting a new school or having a new kiddo join group mean a chance to form new friendships.
How we teach it: Believe in Me uses ice breaker techniques allowing our students to become comfortable with each other and create lasting bonds. We greet each other by name and our new friends get the opportunity to choose how they'd like to say hello. High fives are a big favorite!
10. Self-confidence: We believe in our students and encourage them to believe in themselves. They all are exceptional and have amazing attributes to add to this world.
How we teach it: Believe in Me aids in creating happy, confident, caring and wonderful people! We use LOTS of positive reinforcement and praise when our kids excel - they've earned it! We have learned children are more willing to try and learn new skills when they feel good about themselves. Our goal is to boost them up!
If you think about it, most of us use all 10 of these social skills on a daily basis without even realizing it! Social skills are an integral part of daily functioning. Let us help you set your child up for social success!
We offer social skills groups throughout the week (Wednesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays) and are also opening registration for a Mommy & Me parent training class as well as specialty class sessions (like integrated art classes, dance classes, and more!). Additionally, we offer private and semi-private behavior therapy as well.
Contact us today for more information!