Hello! I’m Claudia Doan from Creative Speech Lab and I’m thrilled to be writing a guest post for the Speech Bubble! I love implementing the innovative ideas Maureen shares on her outstanding blog. Today, I’ll be sharing some of my own tips about meaningful and lasting ways to teach social skills to our students.
Benjamin Franklin famously said “tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” Sure, we can read a book about how to ride a bike but it isn’t until we experience of wobbling, pedaling and steering that we really get it (and remember it).
Riding a bike is pretty straightforward but social skills are quite the opposite! How do we make abstract concepts like body language or topic maintenance more concrete for our language-impaired students? Social skills lessons, descriptions, worksheets and visuals can be extremely helpful. However, if we want our students to really get it, they need to experience it.
In my own practice as an SLP, I use experiential teaching as often as I can. While it may require a little “out-of-the-box” thinking at first, it’s really quite do-able (and I’ve truly found it exhilarating as a therapist!) Here are five ways, I like to use an experiential, hands-on approach to teach social skills.
Most schools hold bake-sales for special school-wide events. These can provide your students prime access to social skills practice. Eye contact, greetings, basic conversation, body language – check!
If this isn’t easy for you to coordinate, set up a lemonade stand near the teacher’s lounge. (The advantage of this is that teachers are really good at knowing exactly what to say to elicit conversation in students).
Teachers need someone to collect their attendance forms and hot lunch orders. Why not “hire” your students? This experience provides students with daily practice in greeting, establishing eye-contact and simple conversations while instilling pride and confidence them for performing a valued job.
Does your school have a club designed to help new students transition to their new setting? Oftentimes, these groups consist of a mixture of new and current students (who show them the ropes). This provides your students with a fantastic opportunity to engage in perspective-taking, emotional literacy and more advanced conversation skills.
We all know that lunch is about more than just eating. It’s also about socializing. What better time to jump in and help our students learn social scripts and critical conversation skills? To make it feel extra special, your student can invite others to have a special lunch in the speech therapy room.
Play a Game
Make an arrangement with the classroom teacher in which your student can invite a new student from class into the speech room each week to play a game. This helps your student initiate play, conversations, engage in turn-taking, perspective-taking, sportsmanship as well as builds confidence in the area of friendship-building. (I’ve also found that students get a boost from classmates who are anxious to leave the room to play games!)
I love sharing hands-on teaching ideas to help our students generalize the skills we teach in our therapy rooms. I hope these ideas inspire you to incorporate some experiential learning into your social skills lessons!
Thanks so much again to the Speech Bubble for inviting me to share my ideas with you!