Addressing Social Skills in Therapy
Social skills is the term that refers to a child’s ability to interact with other people. Many different skills fall under the umbrella of social skills, including understanding social rules, using correct body language, using appropriate language, and using empathy to understand the world from someone else’s point of view. Many children with language delays also have difficulty with social interaction.
Speech 4 Kids recognizes that our children’s everyday activities are the context for learning to communicate so we incorporate programs in our therapy that follow this idea.
The Importance of Play
Over the past few decades, researchers in the fields of education and child psychology have amassed significant evidence for the necessity of play in children’s lives. There is no denying that play is fun, and certainly fun is its biggest draw for children. However, as children play, they also develop critical cognitive, emotional, social, and physical skills. Play even contributes to proper brain development. The skills children learn through play in the early years set the stage for future learning and success from the kindergarten classroom to the workplace
At Speech 4 Kids we use a play based approach in our therapy sessions. We focus on pretend and symbolic play, social relationships, narrative development, and conversation. It is through this approach that your child doesn’t even know they are working and they can focus on all the fun while at the same time improving their communication skills
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
Promoting Social Skills and Play at Home
Stimulating Play Items for your Home:
These items will help your child develop creative and imaginative play, whether playing alone or in small groups.
- Blocks (variety of sizes)
- Boxes (several shapes)
- Large beads and string
- Puzzles (wooden or board)
- Sand, sifters, cups and spoons
- Water and small cups
- Play dough
- Dress up clothes and costumes
Teaching Social Skills at Home
Below are suggestions for teaching social skills that all parents can practice with their children at home.
- Discuss the Need for Social Skills
Children need to understand that social skills are important. Share with your child that adults use social skills in their workplaces and community. Talk about/point out experiences that you or your child may have had or observed when social skills were necessary. Brainstorm and come up with a list of social skills that you and your child can work on throughout the year.
- Talk About the Social Skill
Help your child identify what appropriate behavior looks and sounds like. For example, praising looks like a thumbs up, clapping or smiling. Praising sounds like, “Terrific!” “I knew you could do it!” or “Way to go!” Make a list with your child of “looks like” and “sounds like” behaviors and post it in a chart for recording the target behavior and the progress your child makes in demonstrating appropriate behavior.
- Practice the Social Skill
After discussing what a particular social skill looks and sounds like, provide an immediate opportunity for your child to practice the appropriate social skill behavior (looks like and sounds like). Act out a scenario with your child in which he/she must use appropriate behaviors to respond in a social situation.
- Pause, Reflect, and Review
At the end of each day, take the time to pause, reflect, and review your child’s use of social skills that day. You may want to encourage your child to keep a journal to write down thoughts about the day. If your child is not yet writing, you can keep a journal together, in which you write the entries. Help your child celebrate his/her social skills successes—if you make it a big deal, your child will, too.