Social skills are essential to school success. Children who have challenges in social language (also called pragmatics) benefit from our after school social groups. These school age group focus on skills such as:

– Using language for different purposes, such as greeting, informing, requesting

– Changing language according to the needs of a listener or situation, such as talking differently to different people and situations giving background information to an unfamiliar listener

– Speaking differently in a classroom than on a playground

– Following rules for conversations and storytelling, such as…

  • Taking turns in conversation
  • Introducing topics of conversation
  • Staying on topic
  • Rephrasing when misunderstood
  • How to use verbal and nonverbal signals
  • How close to stand to someone when speaking
  • How to use facial expressions and eye contact

Changing language for different speakers or situations. Examples of targeted social skills activities include:

Role-play conversations: Pretend to talk to different people in different situations. For example, a situation is set up (or use one that occurs during the course of a day) in which the individual has to explain the same thing to different people, such as teaching the rules of a game, or how to make a cake. We model how the person should talk to a child versus an adult, or a family member versus a friend of the family.

Encourage the use of persuasion: For example, ask the student what he or she would say to convince family members or loved ones to let him or her do something. Discuss different ways to present a message:

  • Polite (“Please may I go to the party?”) versus impolite (“You better let me go”)
  • Indirect (“That music is loud”) versus direct (“Turn off the radio”)
  • Discuss why some requests would be more persuasive than others
Conversation and Storytelling Skills:

  • Comment on the topic of conversation before introducing a new topic. Add related information to encourage talking more about a particular topic.
  • Provide visual cues such as pictures, objects, or a story outline to help tell a story in sequence.
  • Encourage rephrasing or revising an unclear word or sentence. Provide an appropriate revision by asking, “Did you mean…?”
  • Show how nonverbal signals are important to communication. For example, we talk about what happens when a facial expression does not match the emotion expressed in a verbal message (e.g., using angry words while smiling).

All of these skills are taught and practiced using activities that are engaging and motivating for the children such as game playing, arts and crafts, science experiments, role playing, video modeling, and activities that revolve around central themes. Children are also engaged in the planning process for some activities such as organizing a party or developing rules of a game. This helps with peer interactions such as maintaining conversations and also in negotiation skills with peers.

For informatrion on our Social Language Groups please click here.