Friday, 9 August 2013

A Clear Method for Teaching Social Skills

In order for students to acquire social skills more effectively, students need to understand why they are learning the skills, ways the skills can be practiced,  how well they use the skills and how they can be improved. With this in mind, a clear method for teaching social skills is required. One approach that the Year 2 teachers have been using with great success involves the use of Y charts. The following Y chart was developed by the Year 2 students following a class discussion regarding the social skill: Including Others.

The method the Year 2 teachers follow to introduce, teach and reinforce a social skill is as follows:

  • Introduce the social skill. The skill is always one that is needed by the students in the current classroom context.
  • Hold a class discussion about the chosen social skill: What it looks like/sounds like/ feels like
  • Teacher records students’ answers on the Y Chart. Write what the students say – it needs to be in their language!
  • Display and refer to the chart as often as possible.
  • Practise/use the skill. A variety of strategies are used, including: role play, games, social stories. All specialist teachers and educational assistants are actively involved with reinforcing the skill. In addition to this, the Y Chart is sent home to parents so that it can be reinforced.
  • Evaluate students' use of the skill/provide feedback. Review and reflect: How well did I use the skill? How well was the skill used by others? How can I improve my use of this skill in the future?

Both Year 2 teachers recognise that social skills take time to master. Time is needed both for explicit teachng of the skills and for the informal practice of the skills in authentic situations. All of the above needs to take place in a supportive accepting environment, one where students feel comfortable to make mistakes.

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