Notes on Social Skills Instruction
Social Skills can be taught in a variety of settings, formats and across age groups. There may be a considerable degree of flexibility within many aspects of social skills instruction, but there are certain considerations that must always be made if success is to be possible.
- Teach one subject at a time. Social skills is its own subject and although practice should occur during other subjects, the initial instruction should occur during its own unique time.
- Teach skills that target true deficits for a given individual. Think in terms of giving someone a fish as opposed to teaching someone to fish.
- The learning environment should be organized and safe. If this is not the case, it is both necessary and ok to take time to do this. Spending a few lessons doing something fun or easy just to help in getting a great routine down is often wise.
- The program should have built-in predictability (always starting and ending the same way for example) that may help increase tolerance to changes elsewhere in the program such as new lessons or increasing expectations.
- Instruction time for social skills should be heavily weighted on practice. Our students are often years behind in practicing skills that their peers are already fluent at. Lots of practice time can help build student confidence and allows for teacher feedback as well.
- The goal of social skills instruction is to improve students’ lives by increasing their abilities to interact with other people. Take every opportunity to reinforce students when new skills are being used.
Many components of a given social skills strategy will appear in multiple programs. This is ok and often the mark of a truly useful strategy. The list below is an attempt to group them only for ease of reference, but not to limit them to a single purpose. Please explore and enjoy.
Strategies and Resources: