Helping Kids Build Social Skills

You won’t necessarily find a social skills lesson on every classroom’s daily schedule. And yet, a vast majority of young students need some level of instruction in how to do things like cooperate, share, play, take turns, and converse. This is especially true for students with ADHD, Social Anxiety and Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder. Interacting positively and productively with others isn’t something that comes naturally to many kids, and for some, it’s extra challenging. That’s why we were so excited to talk to Speech-Language Pathologists Tara Ferrara and Alexandra Spira of Social City. Listen to how they help kids develop these crucial skills through social groups, and read below for some highlights!

Key Takeaways

  • From a speech pathologist’s lens, speech and language skills can be split into three main categories:

    • Receptive Language: these are skills that have to do with understanding what others are saying (also includes reading comprehension).

    • Expressive Language: these are skills related to speaking and communicating, writing, retelling a story, and articulating one’s thoughts.

    • Pragmatic Language: these are conversation skills as well as nonverbal communication cues like facial expression, body language, tone of voice, etc.

      • Social skills groups focus on developing pragmatic language skills.

  • Why is it so important for students to be able to read social cues and nonverbal communication?

    • Students who often feel targeted or frequently bullied by peers are usually misreading social cues.

    • Students who have difficulty with these skills engage in one-sided conversations, don’t notice when others lose interest, and need support in having reciprocal conversations.

  • The best way to help students develop social skills: Role Play!

    • Using role play to act out scenarios with different outcomes can help students compare and evaluate these different outcomes in a low-stakes setting.

    • It prepares them to be successful in real-life scenarios when they come up.

  • How can you tell if your students need social skill support?

    • They struggle to express themselves emotionally and engage socially

    • They frequently keep to themselves

    • They don’t know how to read social cues, have trouble working in a group, taking turns, managing emotions, etc.

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