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The Socially Skilled Kids Blog

DISTANCE LEARNING | HOW TO DO “SCHOOL FROM HOME”

 

Due to the coronavirus, many schools have gone remote.  While teachers have put a tremendous amount of effort into making the transition from school, to school from home, as easy as possible…the fact is, it’s hard!

 According to Education Week, school closures due to coronavirus have impacted over 124,000 U.S. schools and at least 55.1 million students. States have closed schools into late April or May, or even closed down for the remainder of the school year!

Parents, educators, and students have had to make the move to online or Distance Learning. This mode of teaching and learning is unfamiliar to most of us.  We are all doing our very best to figure it all out, and quickly.

As an elementary school teacher, I am seeing a lot of students {and parents} doing okay with school from home, but many too, are really struggling.  Especially our kiddos with special needs.

Challenges like technology {access and knowledge}, working...

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HOW TO TARGET SOCIAL SKILLS THROUGH EASY VIDEO CONFERENCING GAMES AND ACTIVITIES

 

Remotely Teaching social skills can be an interesting challenge.  I have spent many years avoiding the use of technology in my social skills sessions.  I felt my kiddos got plenty of screen time, and what they really needed was face to face interaction.

While I still believe this, we are currently in a situation where we simply must use technology to teach.  

 

So how do you teach a social skills group on a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Google Meet?

By playing games, of course!  

But saying it is one thing…actually doing it is another thing all together!

Our students are dealing with so much right now.  And on top of it all, they have to learn new technology and new appropriate behaviors to go with it.

I don’t know about you…but I have spent the first few weeks of remote teaching, remotely teaching my students how to behave appropriately on Zoom.  

Engaging in a group on a video conferencing...

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TEACHING CONVERSATIONAL SKILLS TO SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS

 

Many children who are typically developing find engaging in conversations to be quite easy.  They have picked up on the necessary skills naturally and with informal practice over time and in their day-to-day interactions with others.

But for our kiddos with special needs, we may need a more explicit approach.  Conversational skills often need to be broken down into small, manageable steps.  Each of those steps may need to be explicitly taught, practiced, re-taught, practiced in multiple environments, and so on.

Before we talk about how to teach conversational skills, let’s talk about why to teach conversational skills.

Our students need to be able to engage appropriately in conversations, to have successful social interactions.  However, this is not a quick and easy skill to teach, as there are many variables to consider.

Within the context of social interactions, we have many different types of conversations; from formal to informal, chit chat to...

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HOW EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONS AFFECT OUR STUDENT’S SOCIAL SKILLS

 
Functioning {EF} skills are the skills we need to complete everyday tasks.  They are like the air traffic controller of our brains, coordinating everything we do, say and think. 
 
We need EF skills to pursue our goals and to live independent lives.
 
 

 

WHAT ARE THE EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING SKILLS?

 
The most commonly noted EF skills are:
 
  • Planning
  • Organization
  • Task Initiation
  • Time Management
  • Working Memory
  • Metacognition
  • Self Control
  • Attention
  • Flexibility
  • Perseverance

 

Love visuals? Try this handy Executive Functioning Skills poster. 

 

 

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THE BEST WAYS TO DECREASE CHALLENGING BEHAVIORS

 
Challenging Behaviors are always a hot topic and could probably be discussed 
All. Year. Long.
 
But when you think about it, we really do talk about challenging behaviors all year long, because we talk about social skills.  And I believe, that most challenging behaviors are a direct result of a lack of social skills. 
 
 
 
Of course, there are some mental health disorders that can cause very significant behavior challenges, for example, Oppositional Defiance Disorder {ODD} and Conduct Disorder {CD), but for the purposes of this discussion, we will be talking about challenging behaviors that are most likely due to a lack of, or poorly developed, social skills.
 
This social skills deficit may be due to factors such as; Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Developmental Delay, Speech and Language Delay, Learning Disabilities or Environmental Factors.
 
With the support of the student’s Team, we can have a positive...
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UNDERSTANDING THE DEVELOPMENT {AND SPLINTER SKILLS} OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING

Engaging successfully in Perspective Taking requires a lot of  “splinter skills.”

While there is a developmental scope and sequence for Perspective Taking, for our kiddos, development is usually uneven, and skills are often scattered; leaving us trying to figure out what to teach, much like a puzzle.

 

 

I recommend spending some time figuring out, as best you can, where the student is at {in their perspective taking development} and which skills are lacking.  Then, start your teaching with the developmentally earliest skill on that list, and move along up the scale as you see success.

 

WHAT IS THE TYPICAL DEVELOPMENT OF PERSPECTIVE TAKING?

Here is a very basic overview:

Preschoolers:  These kiddos are just starting to figure out that people can have different feelings than they do.  This is at a very basic level…they mostly still think that other people share their feelings. 

 Kindergarten – Second...

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HOW TO RESPOND TO THE STUDENT WHO ALWAYS ARGUES

Do you have a student who is always arguing and/or analyzing everything you {and their peers} say or do?  Do they debate even the smallest of requests that you make?  Do they become argumentative with peers, even those who are trying to be friendly to them, cause them to have few or challenging friendships? 

Students who constantly argue can be very frustrating!

Figuring Out The “Why”

 

The first thing I always do, is try to pinpoint the reason for the behavior.

Why is the student engaging in  this behavior?  What is he/she trying to say?  Beyond the words, what message is he sending?

Students who engage in this type of behavior are often seeking control. They want to control the situation, the conversation, the game, etc.  This is usually due to challenges with; Rigid Thinking, Poor Understanding of Empathy, Poor Understanding of Point of View, Perspective Taking, and Fact vs. Opinion. 

Some students also have low self...

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TOP 10 WAYS TO RESPOND TO DEFIANT BEHAVIOR IN THE CLASSROOM

 

Defiant behavior in the classroom is a reality for all teachers.  Classroom teachers, special subject teachers and assistant teachers, all have to respond to a variety of defiant behavior(s), sometimes, on a daily basis.  Defiant behavior(s) also affects the other students who share space with those who are struggling.

 

 

Some, experience severe behaviors.  This post will address mild-moderately defiant behaviors.  These are behaviors that are unsettling and/or disruptive to your teaching, including; non-compliance, arguing and being rude and disrespectful.

*The strategies discussed here and the Freebies passed along, are not intended for significantly defiant behaviors that may be dangerous to you or the student.  Those behaviors and related strategies are outside of the scope of this blog post.  For help with excessively aggressive or dangerous behavior, seek the help of a qualified mental health professional and or...

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HOW AND WHY TO TEACH STUDENTS TEAMWORK AND COOPERATION

 
This time of year I tend to put a lot of focus on the explicit teaching of two very important social skills; Teamwork and Cooperation
 
Of course, teamwork and cooperation are essential skills all-year-long, and are used in nearly every activity in school and in life.
 
For me, the importance of teamwork and cooperation really seems to stand out, as I watch my students to playing sports and games at recess, and engaging in cooperative activities on the playground in in their classrooms. 
 
 
Teamwork and Cooperation are defined very similarly, and my students always tell me they are the same thing.
 
But there are some subtle and important differences that I like to keep in mind.
 

Let’s start with Teamwork

 

Teamwork is defined as:
 
A collaborative effort to achieve a common goal or complete a task.
 
 
Why is teamwork so important? 
 
Because we need to use teamwork in pretty much all...
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CREATIVE WAYS TO TEACH 5 BASIC SOCIAL SKILLS TO YOUR STUDENTS

 

We all know how important it is to teach and support social skills. Year after year I see more and more children struggling to engage in even very basic social skills. 

It’s important to teach social skills, explicitly in many cases, to our students. From kindergarten, all the way through elementary school…and in some cases, beyond.

Here are the 5 basic social skills that I like to teach in the kindergarten classrooms that I service: 

 

Sharing

Cooperating

Taking Turns

Using Kind Language

Respecting Personal Space

 

 

 

Below are some creative ideas for how to teach these important social skills in your day-to-day teaching. I hope you find some helpful ideas that you can quickly and easily add to your routine.

 

Sharing Ideas: Create many opportunities for your students to share by making materials limited. For example, during a cut and paste activity, put out one less glue stick than number of children at the table. Support...

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