Peer reviewed research suggests that effective social skills instruction incorporates four key instructional strategies (quoted from the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities):
1. Focus on social and emotional learning strategies that encourage reflection and self-awareness.
- Encourage children to consider how individual actions and words have consequences.
- Develop children’s ability to take different perspectives and viewpoints.
- Teach students to think through situations and/or challenges by rehearsing possible outcomes.
2. Create opportunities to practice effective social skills both individually and in groups.
- Model effective social skills in the classroom and at home through praise, positive reinforcement, and correction and redirection of inappropriate behaviors.
- Discuss effective interactions with specific attention to the steps involved. For example, discuss the process of a conversation, showing how effective listening makes such interaction possible.
- Role-play scenarios that build social skills.
3. Adjust instructional strategies to address social skills deficits.
- Arrange the physical environment effectively.
- Clearly state instructional objectives and behavioral expectations throughout each lesson.
- Simulate “real life” challenges students may encounter at school, home, and in the community to place social skills in their practical contexts.
4. Tailor social skill interventions to individual student needs.
- Refer to assessment and diagnostic results when deciding upon an intervention.
- Investigate strategies designed to meet particular social skill deficits.
- Make sure the duration and intensity of the intervention are appropriate for the child’s need.
At Kate McClain Social Skills, we seek to include these elements in every social group and camp, both by drawing on published curriculum (including, but not limited to The Incredible 5-Point Scale by Kari Dunn Buron, Social Stories by Carol Gray, and the Social Thinking approach by Michelle Garcia Winner), as well as using our extensive and diverse experience as teachers and therapists to discover and create unique activities that meet our group members’ individual needs while keeping these critical instructional techniques in mind.