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Social skills training

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What is it?

Many social skills are learned just by interacting with parents, peers and teachers. Social skills include participating in conversations, initiating play activities, using eye contact and greetings, and ending interactions appropriately. Students who use inappropriate ways of interacting may do so because they don't know how to use appropriate social skills. Teaching these skills involves instruction, role play and practice individually or in small groups. Practicing in natural settings (e.g., the playground) will help the student to use the social skills at the right place and time. It will be important to continue social skills training in a range of different contexts to help the student learn how to use their skills.

How do I use it?

  1. Identify the students who require help with social skills.
  2. Identify the specific social skills that need to be taught e.g. greetings, turn-taking and recognising others' feelings.
  3. Develop goals for each student. The goals must be measureable and observable e.g. “Paulo will respond to greetings within 5 seconds” rather than “Paulo will not be rude”.
  4. Consider students who can be grouped together to learn skills. Unlike Peer mediated intervention and Structured play groups, social skills training groups generally only involve students who need help with social skills.
  5. Plan appropriate times for the training group to meet. This may be in class time in a separate space, at lunch or before or after school.
  6. Implement training:
    • Warm up activities - these could include getting to know you games that focus on learning about each other's' skills, interests, likes and dislikes (see websites at the end of the factsheet for ideas).
    • Introduce the skill to be taught in this session through discussion, a video, or notes e.g. greeting peers, taking turns in conversations, starting conversations, inviting peers to play.
    • Model the skill. See Modelling factsheet.
    • Practice the skill: have the students imitate the model and practice with each other, with the tutor or teacher.
    • Provide feedback and coaching on the student's performance e.g., your response to that greeting was timely and clear.
    • Reflection - this can include students thinking about what they learned, what was easy, what was hard and when they could use the skill.
    • Free time/snack with the group - this provides an unstructured opportunity to practice skills in a safe environment.
  7. Monitor the progress of the goals for each student. Adjust program as necessary.

Age group

All ages with appropriate modifications for age and ability of the students.

PreschoolYes
P-2Yes
3-6Yes
High schoolYes

Where can I learn more?

Examples of warm up activities can be found online:

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Last updated 24 September 2020